Monday, September 26, 2016

Street Art from a Recent Trip to Sicily

All photos in this post, except three, were taken in Palermo. The photos were taken during a two week trip through Sicily: Palermo, Aeolian Islands, and Mount Etna. We started in Palermo for a few days.

The last time we were in Sicily was in 2008, and we spent one week just in Palermo researching family history and visiting sites. We spend hours in the anagrafe offices getting birth, death, and marriage certificates. The rest of the time we spent visiting the sites of Palermo.

This time around we spent less time in churches and museums because a magical thing happened: we found family! It's a fun story for another blog post. The short story is that we ate and ate and ate, and we didn't have much time for scouting out street art and graffiti. We did our best. Most of the Palermo shots were around the Vucciria, the historical market in the center of Palermo.

Love

A few shots concerning love and matters of the heart.

Palermo street art: 1 + 1 = 1Palermo street art: the kissPalermo street art: heart

People and Faces

The image of Padre Pio is by Trebel. The duplicated Virgin Mary is a play on Antonello da Messina's Virgin Annunciate and is by Domenico Tirino aka Naf Mk.


Palmero street art: facePalmero street art: face vacePalmero street art: Padre Pio by TrebelPalermo street art: woman with rose crownPalermo street art:  duplicated Virgin Mary mimics Antonello da Messina's Virgin Annunciate and is by Domenico Tirino aka Naf Mk.Palermo street art: facesPalermo street art: exotic facePalermo street art: dog and virgin maryPalermo street art: 3 rasta facesPalermo street art: facesPalermo street art: tube face

Creatures

Various creatures on the walls. Right: La volpe l'uva.



C215

The work of C215 is always distinctive, even in the dark as with the second photo taken in the Vucciria in the evening.

Palermo street art: C215 il baccoPalermo street art: brando in vucciria

Julieta XLF

The first two distinctive pieces from Julieta XLF were seeb in Palermo. The piece on the far right was on the Island of Vulcano.

Palermo street art:  Julieta XLFPalermo street art:  Julieta XLFVulcano street art:  Julieta XLF

Walls

Street art on walls around central Palermo.

Street art on walls around central Palermo.Street art on walls around central Palermo.Street art on walls around central Palermo.Street art on walls around central Palermo.Street art on walls around central Palermo.Street art on walls around central Palermo.

Lipari

Two of the three photos not taken in Palermo. These two figures were spotted in the Old Marina of Lipari. The street art makes good use of sea and fishing themes.

Lipari Street ArtLipari Street Art

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sicilia – Street Sign Language Lesson XII

Street Sign Language Lesson 11 < Street Sign Language Lesson 12 > Street Sign Language Lesson 13

For this episode of street sign language lessons, we head to Sicily. Over two weeks, we visited Palermo, several of the Aeolian Islands, and did several hikes around Mount Etna. In this post we talk about signs and words on them that convey a little of the flavor of our trip including ash (cenere) and sand (sabbia) of Etna, pumice (pomice) and obsidian (ossidiana) of Lipari, dressed-up bread (pane cunzato), and (avvistamento incendi) fire lookout.

Around Mount Etna


Fire spotters at Rifugio Citelli.
Avvistamento incendi boschivi – forest fire watch
Avvistamento incendi boschivi – forest fire watch
We had just finished a hike from the Rifugio Citelli to Grotta di Serracozzo and two men in a little shack caught our eye. We just had to see what they were doing. As we walked closer, we saw the writing on the side of the shack that indicates they are keeping an eye out for fires and they explained as much when we asked. They told us that most of the fires are arson, not naturally occurring.

Several days earlier, we were in the Aeolian Islands and the subject of fire came up several times. We’d see land that looked recently scorched (e.g., on Lipari) and we would ask about it. There too, it seemed that the answers we got were that the fires are set deliberately. One person told us it was for hunting. Another person we asked said it was a typical Sicilian revenge tactic.

Just this June there were an unbelievable number of fires across Sicily, now believed to have been arson. See for example, Firefighters in Sicily battle dozens of blazes which officials believe were deliberately lit by the mafia, developers - or even forest rangers and Mafia 'attaching flaming rags to cats' to start Sicily forest fires. Gulp. Gatti piromani – arsonist cats. Behind the fires there is a money motive, it’s just not clear as of yet what it is.

Signs on the roads around Mount Etna warning of volcanic sand and ash.
Signs on the roads around Mount Etna warning of volcanic sand and ash.Signs on the roads around Mount Etna warning of volcanic sand and ash.
cenere vulcanica, sabbia vulcanica – volcanic ash, volcanic sand
We stayed near Milo at B&B Dimora dell’Etna and noticed many signs warning about volcanic sand and ash as we drove around the mountain. First, it’s difficult to appreciate just how big Etna is, and secondly, how the landscape can change in an instant. Volcanic ash and sand can make roads slippery, reduce visibility, not to mention the damage to the car itself.

Mount Etna funivia warning to behave.
A bowl of salt for driving away evil spirits.
distribuire il carico in cabina – distribute weight evenly in the cabin
We saw this sign on the funivia on the way up to Mount Etna’s summit for a crater summit hike. The image of the tilted cabin made me think of two American lovers riding in a pickup, scrunched over toward on the driver's side of the vehicle. Lovers: please separate.


Vietato oltrepassare questo limite – It is forbidden to go beyond this limit Mount Etna - Vietato oltrepassare questo limite – It is forbidden to go beyond this limit
Vietato oltrepassare questo limite – It is forbidden to go beyond this limit
You cannot go above 3000 m on Etna without a guide, or you could, but it is highly discouraged and foolhardy. Anyhow, why not just go up with a guide and get the experience that goes with that? We were on the summit crater tour when we saw this sign. Later as our group was well beyond the 3000m limit (with our guide) a lone person much lower on the trail seemed to be trying to catch up with us thinking perhaps they could join our group. A park ranger or guide ran after her, yelling, and finally escorted her back down. The person was trying to go it alone.

Oltrepassare is to passare oltre or pass over a limit, limite – masculine – so we use questo.

Lipari


A bowl of salt for driving away evil spirits.
A bowl of salt for driving away evil spirits.
fora malocchio – away with the evil eye
We saw this sign in Chitarra Bar in the old marina of Lipari. For the few days we were in Lipari, we seemed to end up there every morning for an after-breakfast and before-you-start-your-day granita and brioche. Chitarra Bar a great place to watch the tours depart for the day and scuba students getting ready to go out. In the Sicilian language, fora is equivalent to the Italian fuori, or out, as in the exclamation "out!" Malocchio is the evil eye or a hex or jinx. This sign was over a dish of salt where one takes a pinch of salt and throw it over the shoulder to get rid of some bad juju. It’s fairly noticeable (at least for us) the uptick in superstitious beliefs as you travel from north to south in Italy. Here’s one example of a superstitious ritual (see video).

Obsidian and pumice for sale in Lipari.

Obsidian and pumice for sale in Lipari.
ossidiana, pomice – obsidian, pumice
You can’t visit the islands, especially Lipari, without running into these words. They define the islands. Obsidian on Lipari is one of the major deposits in the Mediterranean for this volcanic glass. It was important in the early Neolithic settlements of the islands for creating cutting and piercing tools, and for trading for goods from the mainland (like clay for pottery).

Pumice is another volcanic product that is common on Lipari. There was an important production site for pumice on Lipari, which is now closed. As explained on the site Real House Wife Adventures, the site was closed because of the UNESCO designation that was bestowed on the Aeolian Islands. We also heard this reason when we visited the interesting exhibit inside the Chiesa dell' Immacolata (Castello di Lipari) called “Lipari 1952 – Viaggio nelle cave di pietra pumice - photographs by Cecilia Mangino” running from July 28 to September 10 2016. The young local guy running the exhibition that day echoed the same reason. A double-edged sword: an activity like pumice quarrying that is unique to the island is the very thing that must be curtailed to preserve its status on a World Heritage List. We read that it was because of the dust produced and the pumice debris that clouded the otherwise clear waters. (If you want to read more see the documentation on the UNESCO site for the islands.)

Rescue boat at Coral Beach, Island of Lipari.
Rescue boat at Coral Beach, Island of Lipari.
salvataggio - rescue
I liked this picture of the boat resting on the beach. nobody needed saving while we were passing by on this calm morning. We rented a scooter and toured Lipari, with a stop here at Coral Beach.

Salina


Restaurant on the Island of Salina advertising pane cunzato.
Restaurant on the Island of Salina advertising pane cunzato.
Pane cunzato – is a cross between a bread salad, open-faced sandwich, and bruschetta; the literal translation is something like “dressed up bread”
We started noticing this Sicilian specialty, pane cunzato, in Lipari when we rolled into town our first night (hydrofoil aliscafo from Palermo to Lipari). We weren’t very hungry but wanted something to snack on. We ate pane cunzato at Il Gabbiano in the old marina. Later, we realized almost every restaurant has a version of pane cunzato.

Vulcano


Warning sign at the start of the ascent to the Gran Cratere.
Vietato avvicinarsi alle fumarole alto pericolo di intossicazione – It is forbidden to get close to the fumaroles due to danger of poisoning
Vietato avvicinarsi alle fumarole alto pericolo di intossicazione – It is forbidden to get close to the fumaroles due to danger of poisoning
It’s easy to read intossicazione as intoxication whereas here it means poisoning.The fumaroles in question are on the Gran Cratere of the Island of Vulcano that we hiked up to. The most that happened to me was I got slightly burned on the leg by gas coming from a fumarole trying to get by an annoying group of French tourists who would not get out of the way and kept shouting “incroyable!” Grrr. Note the baby stroller parked behind the sign.

Inspirational graffiti at the summit of the Gran Cratere on the Island of Vulcano.
Chi lotta può perdere, chi non lotta ha già perso – forza!
Chi lotta può perdere, chi non lotta ha già perso – forza! – Those who fight can lose, those who don’t have already lost – Onward!
I'm a sucker for inspirational graffiti, I admit it. We saw this written on the high point of Gran Cratere of Vulcano. It’s a crater you can “get to the top of” without a guide as compared to Stromboli and Etna, where you must have a guide. Lottare – to fight or struggle is a useful verb to know.

Stromboli



Signs on Stromboli showing which way to go in the event of a tsunami.
via di allontanamento, area di attesa – escape route, waiting area via di allontanamento, area di attesa – escape route, waiting area
via di allontanamento, area di attesa – escape route, waiting area
We were walking along Via Regina Elena on the morning before our hike to the summit, one of the two main streets in Stromboli, and kept seeing these signs. We later learned from our hiking guide that tsunamis are a serious threat as happened in 2002 after the collapse of part of the crater causing a landslide at the Sciara del Fuoco. The wave caused by the material sliding in the ocean reached around the other side of the island causing damage.

We also noticed that these signs are very useful for finding the hidden beaches in Stromboli. Walking along Via Regina Elena, you see a lot of stairs and narrow lanes leading to the sea, but you might be uncertain if they are public or private. If you see these signs, it’s likely a public beach.

Palermo


Sign in a driveway in Palermo to leave doorway clear.
Sign in a driveway in Palermo to leave doorway clear.
x favore lasciare libero il passaggio (di idee) giorno e notte – please leave the doorway clear (of ideas) day and night
x is shorthand for per or "for". I like the way someone tacked on di idee.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Mount Etna East Side: Hike from Rifugio Citelli to Grotta di Serracozzo

Left: Hiking route, roundtrip from Rifugio Citelli. Right: Sentiero (trail) 723 Serracozzo.
Hiking route, roundtrip from Rifugio CitelliSentiero (trail) 723 Serracozzo

Hike Notes

Length: 6.8 km
Duration: 3 hours
Elevation: 631 m, 1.733 m at start, 2.167 m at max
Location: Italy, Region of Sicilia, Province of Catania, Etna East, Sant’Alfio

Overview

This was our last hike of our Sicilian trip, a cool and gray day. You can never tell with Mount Etna. We were actually happy for the weather, which contributed to the atmosphere as we walked through the surreal landscape of the Serracozzo. At times we thought we were in Iceland.

The hike is well-documented on the Etna Tracking site, where you can download GPS tracks. We first followed the indications for La Grotta di Seracozzo and then continued on to make a clockwise loop back to the rifugio following the Sentiero di Serracozzo. The Rifugio Citelli is on the Strada Regionale Mareneve road and easy to get to. After the hike, we had a nice lunch at the rifugio.

Plants and Landscape

Soon after leaving the rifugio parking lot (heading west), you find yourself walking within beautiful birch stands, [Betulaceae] Betula aetnensis - “betula dell’Etna”. Contorted, cream-colored trunks stand out against the black volcanic rock and soil. This birch is endemic to the east side of Mount Etna’s lava terrain.

After passing out of the birch stands, you start to notice strange mounds. Moving closer, you’ll notice they are not quite so soft and inviting as they seem from afar; they have nasty spines. These mounds are [Fabaceae] Astracantha sicula - “spino santo” or “astrogalo siciliano”. This pea family plant is, like the birch, only found only on Mount Etna.

Finally, at this time of year we saw a lot of spent [Asteraceae] Tanacetum siculum flowers and just a few still-in-bloom [Caryophyllaceae] Saponaria sicula, both endemic to Sicily. The species name sicula and siculum means “of Sicily”.

Astracantha sicula
Astracantha siculaAstracantha sicula

Left: Mounds of Astracantha sicula on Serracozzo. Right: Astracantha sicula pushing up through lava rock.
Mounds of Astracantha sicula on SerracozzoAstracantha sicula pushing up through lava rock

Betula aetnensis - “betula dell’Etna”
Betula aetnensis - “betula dell’Etna”Betula aetnensis - “betula dell’Etna”

Left: Saponaria sicula flower. Right: A type of stone called in dialect pietra cicirara, or "chickpea stone".
Saponaria sicula flowerA type of stone called in dialect pietra cicirara, or "chickpea stone"

Left: Map showing three Etna hikes we took. Right: Lunch at Rifugio Citelli.
Map showing three Etna hikes we tookLunch at Rifugio Citelli

Left: View into Valle del Bove from Sentiero 723. Right: Slip sliding down the hill back to Rifugio Citelli, visible in the distance.
View into Valle del Bove from Sentiero 723Slip sliding down the hill back to Rifugio Citelli, visible in the distance

Left: Fluorescent greens of grasses and Astracantha sicula along the trail. Right: Ladybird beetles (or Ladybugs) huddling in the lava on the Serracozzo.
Fluorescent greens of grasses and Astracantha sicula along the trailLadybugs huddling in the lava on the Serracozzo

Far left: Entrance to the Grotta di Serracozzo. Center left: Inside the Grotta di Serracozzo. Center right: Down the road from Rifugio Citelli you can visit the Grotta dei Ladroni where this birch tree grows out one of the openings of the grotta. Far right: Steps in the Grotta dei Ladroni.
Entrance to the Grotta di SerracozzoInside the Grotta di SerracozzoDown the road from Rifugio Citelli you can visit the Grotta dei Ladroni where this birch tree grows out one of the openings of the grottaSteps in the Grotta dei Ladroni