Italy

Short trip to Milan

Feibai had a workshop and conference in Bocconi. So, I also took the opportunity to visit Milan and so we met half way between Malta and Frankfurt. I don’t fancy conferences and did not participate, but really enjoyed re-exploring the city. Just ahead of the coming art week a lot was in preparation. From the past, I remember Milan rather industrial. But a lot changed and the formerly abandoned industrial premises experienced gentrification, with small specialised shops (I hesitate to call them boutiques, as what you can see is beyond fashion), restaurants and bars. Also, Bocconi made impressive progress, and it was the first time I was on campus since the University was rising to the top of many rankings. A friend showed me also around the campus of the National University of Milan, which was lively with graduation celebrations, and has an outstanding flair of a traditional comprehensive institution. But the best, was the introduction to Cantina della Vetra (www.cantinadellavetra.it). Normally, I don’t try the Tiramisu in restaurants, but here it was one of the greatest surprises. 

Finally, I met Mr. Ray Ban on the Plazza Duomo.

Finally, I met Mr. Ray Ban on the Plazza Duomo.

Pets in a garden in Milan.

Pets in a garden in Milan.

Mount Etna and Taormina

The closest neighbor to the Maltese Islands is Sicily. In 2015 we spent a few weeks in Palermo and Elizabeth Briel's Artist's and Writer's Studio in Cianciana. We then also explored the South and Agrigento, but skipped the island's East and Mount Etna. This is why I took the ferry connecting Valletta and Pozzallo on Friday 13th to spend a prolonged weekend in Taormina. There is superstition around this day, but I assume that the outbound trip has been moved to the middle of the night, and the return sailing has been canceled has been due to bad weather, and this not connected to a number, but is a result of the seasonal meteorological constellations. I made it back with a flight from Catania. 

Hiking trail at the North-East Etna.

Hiking trail at the North-East Etna.

I had only postcard impressions of Mount Etna, but was amazed when I stood in front of it. The 3300 meters make it as impressive as Mount Fuji. I could not reach the crater and the Vulcanological Observatory, as of heavy snow and storm. I even had to assist a few Land Rover Defenders to be pulled out. It was not the car which brought them into this, but some points where the drivers put coolness before competence. 

Taormina seen from the mountain side.

Taormina seen from the mountain side.

Also Taormina and Castelmola are very nice, not just because of their location between the sea and the volcano, but also the towns themselves. It was clearly off season now, but I can imagine how popular this must be from spring to autumn. I will for sure return, and then also take a hike to the crater. 

Castelmonte on January 15th

Castelmonte on January 15th

Landscape of volcanic ashes, approaching the higher regions of Mount Etna.

Landscape of volcanic ashes, approaching the higher regions of Mount Etna.

Mount Etna seen from Taormina in the early morning of January 16th. For many other days the summit was in clouds.

Mount Etna seen from Taormina in the early morning of January 16th. For many other days the summit was in clouds.