Catania, Mt. Etna

Trip Start Sep 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Italy  ,
Monday, February 6, 2006

Catania! Well I wanted to view Mt. Etna riding into town, but there were clouds all over so I couldn't. Anyway, I took a bus into town and wolked till I found my hostel. It was absolutely the most charming place I had stayed. It was basically in a couple's home and they were wonderful! An older couple, he wasn't home yet and she did not speak english, but we got through the registration process fairly painlessly. I noticed in my guidebook that this is the weekend they have their Saint Agata festival honoring their patron saint. So I take a stroll down into the main drag. For some reason there is sawdust all over the place, on the sidewalk, on the street. I figured it was some festival thang. It was getting very crowded when I noticed alot of candles for sale and guys in frocks holding candles bigger than they were. Interesting. Apparently they burn these candles in honor and cart them from the church at the bottom of the street to the top. Once in a while one of the candle holders would start yelling stuff in Italian really really loudly and increasingly agitated sounding and then the others would all respond. Kind of like in church only without the agitation part. Not that I would know really seeing as how I haven't been to a church service in quite a few years, but last time I remembered it was a tad bit more sedate. Now of course the guys holding the candles were all these young, fit, very Italian looking guys holding, um, big candles. Check out the pics and you'll know what I mean. In between the rain and candles they managed to have a fireworks display which was actually excellent! I walked around the festival just having fun watching all the candle bearers and people having a great time. It was a lot of fun. the candle bearers had to wear gloves and those frocks as mentioned cause of all the candle wax. The candles were so big they would cut off the excess that formed and tip the candles over splattering the wax all over the street. That was what the saw dust was for, to minimize the buildup on the streets! It was an incredible experience. The next day I walked around and watched the city workers using big blow torches to melt and scrape up the wax off the street. I did a bunch of window shopping. On day two I was supposed to go to a town an hour away, but I went to the office and they said get a ticket on the bus. Ok, so I go to the bus and the driver says go to the office. Ok, I go to the office and he says no go to the bus. I tell him what the bus driver says and he doesn't seem to get it. I try to ask why I can't get a ticket from him, but he plays dumb. So I am done with this and spend the rest of the day planning and chilling in town. My host was really psyched for me to go to all these towns and I didn't have the heart to tell him I didn't want to go ALL around Sicily so I just went along with his suggestion and 'yessed' him. The next day I made like a tree and leaved. But I was on my way to Milan. I had called Werner, my friend from Sydney, and we spoke about my travels and things and I'll ge to that later, suffice to say I had a week to get to London. First stop...Milan! But first a little shopping. I knew it was going to get a bit colder so I bought a great zipper sweater type thing and this distressed cracked white leather jacket. It was an impulse purchase, but a great one cause I look GGRREEEAAATTTT in it! LOL. Anyhoo, The train was an overnight, but not starting nearly as late as when I came down to Sicily. This meant that I would see how we got across the Meditteranean. We got to the coast around 10pm. I was rooming with nice, but boring men who didn't speak English so I guess it is unfair of me to say they were boring. Well, they stayed in their berths, but the train slowed down and when I looked out we were inside something. So I go to the train car door and I have my answer. They divide the train up and load it onto a boat!! I was astounded! I went to the upper deck and had possibly the worst hot chocolate of my life and watched this massive boat carrying a train to Italy for a while, then I went to bed once we were on solid ground. In the morning I awoke to snow and fog. and thus begins my foray into Milan!!!
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