I'm simply drawn to danger.
What is it about Palermo that makes me want to smash someone's face in? My rage is building and I need to find an appropriate outlet before I take out some rude honking scooter punk with my umbrella and end up in jail. Oh Palermo, I'll get to you yet!
The past week and a half since Napoli I have been trying to get myself killed. Joanna and I set sail for the Aolian Islands after wandering the streets of Naples with a full back pack and a map out in the middle of the night, walking down dark alleys, just like the books said not to do. I got to see the great Vesuvius, and I wondered why no one learned their lesson from Pompeii, when that sucker goes off again, Naples will be fucked!
The Aolian Islands is a chain of freakishly beautiful volcanos that lie just north of mailand Sicily. Joanna and i spent the first week camping on the isle of Salina. They used to make salt, now they make sweet wine that is just a bit too strong. Even though this is a typically very quiet little place (except July and august) we were there during the "Festiva della Birra" (Festival of Beer!) In Naples I had purchased a bottle of Absinthe (it had a gorgeous art nuevou label) because I wanted to try it since it is illegal back home. Damn! It tastes like a strong spicy Jaggermiester, and hits you pretty quick. Joanna and I had a few sips and we started trippin immediately, everything around us took on an eerie and particularly facinating presence. Maybe we were just psyching ourselves out or it was a particularily creepy night, but we headed back to the festival with more than Birra. To our delight it was KARAOKE night! Joanna immediately took to the mike and wowwed the crowd, they actually applauded her between verses. The girl can sing yo! She has mastered the Flashdance theme on Swidler's playstation game. I unfortuately went back to the Absinthe and hit it hard. Memory fails me at this point, but we were not lynched by the hundreds mobbed in the tiny square. Somehow I convinced Joanna that together we should sing the theme to FAME. Needless to say Fame was Lame. My absinsthe induced opening sank the ship before Joanna could take the helm, and at that point the crowd had turned, and the good will that she had accumilated in her first song was gone. I don't even remember how it ended, we just needed to get out of there quickly.
Salina was a particularly lush island with two volcanos and some great cliffy coastline (its featured in Il Postino, but I can hardly remember that film. We spent one afternoon on a beach below a spectacularly steep cliff with a little island in front of it. Another acient crater that reminded me of the pics I've seen of the hawaiian coast. It was rocky, but hey what do you expect, then we realized that the rocks we actually falling on us. Just little pebbles at first, no big deal. Then one hit my shoulder. Then my leg. Then a large boulder crashed a couple meters behing us. We'll be OK, what are the odds. "Ouhh" Joanna cried as a medium size boulder bounced off her boob. WHY ARE WE THE ONLY ONES ON THIS BEACH? We quickly scurried away, I don't remember any landslides in il Postino.
Before leaving Salina, we climbed the taller of the two to get some great views of the whole Goomba archipaeglio. We could see Stromboli smoldering off the distance, beckoning us (you love magma!) I suggested we head down the other side of the mountain so I could go to a cash machine. We kept trying to take shortcuts that nearly ended our lives on numerous occasions. Cliffs look scalable from a distance, but the footing was pebbly, my mom would have freaked, we nearly ended up in a ravine.
Then to Stromboli! We took a guided hike to the top. Easily the toughest hike I've ever done, the wind nearly blew us off the top of the mountain, we had to rent boots and helmets and flashlights for the dark walk home. Our tour guide had awesome english. "Witha no-a Sciarra" (Sciarra is the place where the lave flows down to the water) "Da persone of dee-a village-a woulda be-a die"
We actually climbed above the crater where the explosions were taking place. I thought we would have to watch it from a great distance, but no, lets get in for a closer look on the side of this windswept little ledge. At this point, if I were to die, i wouldn't want people to feel sorry for me, just shake your head and say. What a moron. I asked for it, like people who like in Florida each year with their hurricanes, or the people of coastal Bangladesh with their monsoon flooding, or the people of Pompeii, they should know better.
The lava really was amazing. So many explosions, and magma shooting high into the air, its red spew smoldering on the black mountainside. It was without a doubt- the coolest thing I've ever seen. Joanna and I hiked halfway up the Sciarra the next night to watch the evening pyrotecnics and it was even better. The clouds lit red with lava bursts. it looked like Mordor for you dorks out there, I'm not kiddin.
Then we sailed to Vulcano. It stank! Sulfur mud pools are the big attraction here. I went in it and it was nasty, my clothes still reek. Then Joanna and I climbed up to the big crater. it was one smelly bitch. Toxic sulpheric fumes pluming right out of our pathway, my throat still feels weird, but it was something to behold. If you enjoy beholding yellowcaked green stanky sulpher spewing craters.
Finally we sailed and trained to Palermo, with a quick stop in the picturesque Cefalu. Oh Palermo! Damn you for bringing me here. My name sake SIANO is from
Palermo, and let me tell you one thing, I know why my great grandfather got the hell out of Palermo. This city makes Naples look romantic. I should have gone to the eastern Ionian coast of sicily with Syracuse and Taormina and Mt Etna and amazing ancient Greek amphitheathers on cliffs above the Mediterrean.
But no, I need to know where my family came from. WHATEVER! This place is a hellhole with some nice Cathedrals and good night life. Last night I watched the cops chase some guys in suits, run right in front of me. Tires screeching, people yellin, it was cool, but damn, Mafioso stereotypes may never die here.
Anyways that's it for now, I gotta go pay too much for dinner and get nearly run down by a dozen scooters. Oh and the hostel here charges 30 Euro a night for a dorm bed, what the fuck! I pee on your "youth hostel" with great force and I hope the powers of erosion find you quickly, I'm going to stay at the dirty loud Hotel regina, cause I like springs in my back! Oh Sianos, rejoice that Palermo is no longer your home.