Perched on top of a fortress 750 meters above sea level, overlooking the underlying Sosio valley, stands an ancient Sicilian little town:…
Text by Giovanni Vallone
Today we are in Nicolosi, a small village 700 meters above sea level, the gateway to Mount Etna.
And, yes: the highest volcano in Europe starts from here and from this road that from Nicolosi reaches 2000 meters in height, the highest point that can be reached by car.
In this town everything is the child of Etna.
Everything is lava stone, everything has been shaped by the volcano: the houses, the streets, the rich and flourishing vegetation since the lava ash of Etna is very fertile.
Here in Nicolosi the great travelers of the Grand Tour of the eighteenth century made their final stop before the great climb to the volcano from where, at 3300 meters high, they admired the sunrise.
Here in Nicolosi there is a child of Etna, the Monti Rossi from which, in 1669 originated a lava flow that arrived up to the city of Catania.
The lava many times has arrived in Nicolosi.
Sometimes, however, it stopped right behind and then its inhabitants erected small sanctuaries to thank the miracle received.
In Nicolosi, especially in the past, people lived only on Etna: they produced ice in the volcanic caves; they sold broom wood, excellent for bakers; they made coal ready to transport it to nearby cities.
Today the village is an enchanting holiday resort.
And here in Nicolosi we have an appointment with a local inhabitant.
We are guests of Miss Maria Grazia Torre.
As soon as we walk in, right at the entrance, there is a collection of canes.
“Yes they are a bit from all over the world. This is my aunt’s, Sicilian DOC.”
Here is the living room of this Sicilian house.
There’s a nice working gramophone, a collection of nativity scenes from around the world.
“This is the Sicilian one. The most precious of all”
“This is a very old Sicilian piece of furniture. It was used to store flour”
Here we are in the kitchen, good morning everybodyM.
There is, clearly, a beautiful picture of Mount Etna.
Outside the kitchen there is a classic Sicilian courtyard with two beautiful wash basin where they used to wash the laundry.
This house is all in lava stone of course.
We go up a staircase, also made of lava stone.
“This is my mother’s bedroom”
“And she was born here?”
“In this bed where I continue to sleep today”
Maria Grazia tells us about her travels around the world.
“By traveling I was able to appreciate my land. We have gold. I think we are the richest land in the world in terms of culture and landscape. We are the cradle of civilization”
“I have a conflicting relationship with Etna: it’s a friend to be respected; it often scares us but for us in Nicolosi it has been a source of work for everyone in the past and even today”
Ok, now let’s eat!
Miss Maria Grazia has prepared fresh pasta with sauce.
There is ricotta cheese with pomegranate seeds and a typical scacciata with cauliflower, anchovies, spring onions and black olives.
There are the very tasty prickly pears and dried figs.
“In this dish with mom we used to make tomato preserves that we would then put in the sun and when it dried it was ready”
Thank you for everything Miss Maria Grazia, thank you beautiful Sicily for the hospitality of your people.
A nice Sicilian kiss.