Friday, March 7, 2008

The Circumnavigation of Mt. Etna

We woke up this morning excited after another good defensive practice last night (special atta-boys to DE Fabio, LB Salvo and just returned from 4 weeks on the Israeli front LB one say "'uddle" like he does).

This euphoria led to our decision to undertake one of the greatest events in orienteering...THE CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF MT. ETNA!

To our knowledge this would be the first Cuban-American team to attempt this difficult and extremely dangerous exploration. We packed provisions and started early hoping to make the trip in what would surely be a record of less than one day!

Our route would take us north up the coast from our Malibu base camp in Aci Castello. We planned on turning west when we reached the town of Fiumefreddo and then work our way to the settlement of Castiglione di Sicilia. Jason and I had visited this outpost a few weeks ago and were friendly with the natives. In exchange for shinny coins, they gave us nourishment in the form of cornettos and cappuccinos.

After regrouping, we headed into uncharted land to the fabled city of Randazzo. We found it rather quickly and then pushed on to Bronte, rumored to be a city of gold! It wasn't but again the people were very friendly.

Our next stop was the village of Adrano. Although warned by the people of Bronte that he tribe inhabiting Adrano were savages, we found them to be quite charming. In fact they welcomed us into one of their communal eating places and took care of us by providing meat filled pastries and refreshing local beverages.

The people of Adrano then guided us to our next spot, Etnapolis. They said that we would find anything in our heart's desire here with incredible riches in every doorway. We were not disappointed! We found over 50 stores trading all sorts of wares to people of all tribes and nationalities. The natives call it a mall, a strange name but familiar sounding. Laurie was able to barter her way into a pair of locally made shoes, what a talker!

We then finished our trek with the final dash through Catania and on to Malibu thus completing the huge circle! Tonight a feast in our honor is planned at Al Tubo's Ristorante, reportedly big Al himself will be there to present us with an award.

All in all a very rewarding day!

Hurricane Jason and his lovely bride Christie arrive in Catania Saturday morning from Paris. I hope they can both hang with the pace of life here!

Laurie at the outskirts of Castiglione di Sicilia

Padre Pio is HUGE in Sicilia!

The Gateway to ???

A church in the middle of nowhere

The old and very interesting cemetery of Castiglione di Sicilia

A passageway in Randazzo

The Randazzo church scene

"Berlin Wall? What Berlin Wall?"
Communists of Randazzo Unite!!!

Near Bronte, English Admiral Nelson was given some land by a foreign king as a reward. Bourbon I think, the royal line not the drink. He built this villa. The Sicilians would eventually reclaim all the land.

The doorway to the Admiral's private chapel

The country side between Bronte and Adrano

Old buildings in Adrano

This mural in the Caffe Seven in Adrano, where we ate, makes me think that other Cubans may have been here before us.

Just before we entered the Etnaoplis Mall, we discovered that in the foothills of Mt. Etna lives at least one very unhappy Penn State football fan!

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