Saturday, May 30, 1998

No Room in the Inn at the Center of the World

Making do while shaking up in the myth-soaked Sicilian city of Enna

Enna is a city one can see in just 95 minutes—at least, that's how long it took Jay and I to do the major sights (not that most were major...).

Admittedly, we did skip the medieval Norman Torre di Frederico II and it's surrounding park, but the thing was way out on the other end of Enna in the new town (the city is kind of V-shaped, splayed out along two ridges) and is completely swathed in scaffolding (Ionic, from what we could tell) and closed anyway.

Although our train pulled in around 2:20pm, there wasn't a bus up to the town proper until 3:10pm. And, as it turns out, Enna's bus station is way the heck over in the new town, not the old town where all of the sights (and the only hotel) cluster.

Monday, May 25, 1998

A night atop the volcano

Climbing Stromboli, a violently active volcano and the last in the line of Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily

Stromboli eruptingThe mountain had been rumbling all day, but it wasn't until the setting sun sent sparking streamers across the azure Tyrrhenian Sea surrounding us that Stromboli's fireworks truly began.
With a primal roar and a boom that shook the entire island, the smaller of the cones inside the crater below us exploded in fire, spewing tons of molten lava hundreds of feet into the air. Jay and I were too dumbstruck even to grope for our cameras.
As the red glow faded and the magma spattered back to earth like fat raindrops, I turned to my friend and we could both think of only one reaction: "Wow."
Pyrotechnics over for at least the next 20 minutes or so, I looked around the rim of the ancient crater. We stood on the lip of a large bowl, in the bottom of which snuggled Stromboli's trio of active cones gurgling, hissing, steaming, and growling in between eruptions.
At regular intervals along the rim were foot-high curved walls of stacked pumice stone--some just a wind-blocking curl, others spiraled like a seashell. "Well," I said, gesturing to the walls. "Let's pick out a shelter for the night."