Day 19 - Sunday 17th July 2016
17.07.2016 - 17.07.2016 30 °C
After the traumas of yesterday it would've been nice to sleep in today, but I had plans that included us all. Sadly for me the events of yesterday played heavily on my mind, I woke at around 5am and couldn't get back to sleep as my mind was racing. Once we all got up and had breakfast, I had planned for us to attend the Sunday morning mass in the church here at Lami (Lami is the name of the village up here on the mountain). This was particularly important to me for a few reasons. One is that on my last trip here as a 5yo I remember the church and the statue of Mary in the church. The statue is placed up high behind the altar, but on feast days they lay tracks and the statue slowly inches down to ground level on a motorised track. This way the locals can lift and carry it. The second reason it was important to attend the mass is that my parents grew up in this village and the church was very much part of their lives.
The name of the church is the Madonna de la Rosaria, which translates to the Madonna of the Rosary. We got to church 10 minutes before the start of Mass but saw no one, I wondered if I had the time wrong. My Aunty was inside there, she came and introduced me to the 90yo priest, and his assistant, who knew my whole family (naturally). We chatted for a few minutes, and as I said I was emotional that day already but pretty soon he had me in tears when he told me he was godfather to one of my friends I grew up with in Sydney but who sadly was murdered a few years ago.
I went and sat with my family and listened intently to the church service. It was in Italian of course so I had trouble following it. I was mostly surprised however how few people attended Mass, just 21 including the four of us. Whilst the church is in the midst of the mountain there are plenty of houses and people around, so not sure why there weren't more attending. The church is small but very beautiful, marble floors and nicely painted walls. I loved the experience of doing this with my family, it meant so much to me spiritually.
After the service, we walked down the path to the cemetery where all my ancestors are buried. My Aunty pointed all the family members to me, especially both sets of grandparents. My Aunty had brought fresh flowers so we helped her put some on the graves - the cemetery isn't spread out on a lawn but instead is a rectangle yard with tombs built on top of each other, 5 high. It was hot there but there were menacing dark clouds, we decided to move on and head home. It wasn't until a while later that I realised I hadn't seen my Aunty (my dads sister) and uncle who were buried there - apparently there was another section of the cemetery we never saw. I intend to go back before we leave here.
We came home and changed clothes from our nice church attire and into our swim wear, our plan for today was to circumnavigate the island so the kids could see it all, they leave before us and only have three nights on the island. We started the drive from Canneto, first we tried to find Spiaggia Bianca - the White Beach. It's not named that for the colour of the sand, the beaches mostly here are rocks and maybe black sand. It got its name as the area had pumice mines and factories, the volcanic rock was mined and exported from here for many decades. Over time the rocks and dust would have settled on the sea floor and from a distance the water colour is almost fluorescent green. There were no distinct signs for this beach, we stopped at one spot and looked down - the road is a few hundred metres above the beaches so it's always a long walk down. Unsure and not willing to traverse down the cliff for no reason we kept driving further.
We turned onto a road into a small town called Ponitcello, the road went all the way down to the water. We parked and looked around, there was a beach just nearby next to the old abandoned pumice wharf where the sand was actually white. We didn't swim as it was overcast and didn't look that inviting. We found a caravan that sold food and had lunch there. We jumped back into to the car and headed on around the tip of the island, the next town we found was called Aquacalda, which means "hot water" in English. By now we realised this rental car was given to us with only a quarter tank of gas, and by the town we got to Aquacalda the needle was getting low. There is only one petrol station on the whole island, over in Lipari and we were a bit worried if we toured too much we'd get stranded. We didn't stop here but continued on, the climbing up and down of the roads certainly chews up gas. We only stopped once at a little spot high up on the hill and they were selling a lot of local produce, like handmade biscuits, and Malvisia which is a sweet dessert wine made on the island. We drove further along, I pointed out the various landmarks and sights as we went and made our way into Lipari to fill up the car.
The weather had improved as it was gloomy earlier, we headed back to Canneto and stopped at the end of the road and grabbed our gear for a swim. The water was refreshing, not too cold and the only problem is walking over the hot rocks to get in and out of the water. After a swim I walked down the main street mainly to see what shops were there. I found Tano Bar, everyone had told me it had the best granita on the island (granita is like a lemon sorbet, found in almost every shop here and very refreshing on a hot day). I started talking to Gaetano the owner and of course he knew most of my family and relatives. He also introduced me to a couple sitting down who knew my family. Everyone knows everyone as I've said before. I finally got back to the beach, then went up the street to my cousin's house and came ack to the beach with her youngest daughter Alessia. The kids had a ball playing together in the water, using Stephanie's GoPro to film themselves underwater.
I had offered to take my cousin and her family to dinner tonight but she kept on refusing. Not sure if that was because she is always tired and still recovering from the stroke or was embarrassed to accept a free dinner. We went home, showered and came back and took Alessia down to us with dinner. We ate on the street right beside the beach at the same restaurant where we had bought the pizzas last night. The meals seemed ok, I ordered prawns but here they are extremely tiny and cooked with the shells. The shells were soft so I wasn't sure if I had to eat them whole or peel them. I ate a couple intact but didn't like the taste so sat there trying to peel these minuscule prawns. Can't say I enjoyed the meal, and was still hungry so I ordered a dessert.
We dropped Alessia off at home and headed back up the mountain to our place. Despite only arriving yesterday, tomorrow is the last full day here for our kids before they move on. The plan for tomorrow is to wake early and get moving so we can explore the neighbouring island of Vulcano.