the Sicilian adventure begins
24.08.2012 - 31.08.2012 32 °C
When Mauritsia came to do business with us it was to act as our tour guide - privato taxi around the island for 80 euro (20 a head). He was prompt, the car was clean and comfortable and air conditioned - it was almost 40 degrees. He provided us with a snapshot of the island - the five villages and their derivations with a charming turn of phrase "there is too much Ficcaro on Lipari" , a statement of great interest to Joseph whose good friend Tony Ficcaro was born on Lipari and recommended our sojourn here. We saw beaches, churches, panoramic views, cactus fruit and of course the life blood of Lipari, the caper plants. We asked Mauritsia if he had a boat and he said he had a small one. We talked a bit about the possibility of organising an excursion on a boat - a half day trip around Lipari and Vulcana.
When we arrived back at the port Don (my bloke) accompanied Maurutisia to meet the skipper of the boat. He noticed the skipper almost jump to attention as Mauritsia approached. When discussions ensued relating to details about our tour and money, it was Mauritsia with whom we dealt. His English was certainly better and negotiations were clear and clean. Skipper and boat booked. All was ready for a great morning on the morrow.
We got to know the name of our skipper as we enjoyed the waters and the scenery around Lipari. Roberto was great. His English was better than my Italian ( there is nothing subtle in that comparison - my Italian is really bad!) but we largely understood each other. He had a cheeky sense of humour and loved his little side jokes with Don about tits and bums (never named of course but definitely inferred) taking great pleasure in getting really close to a sculpture of a bare breasted mermaid atop a rock, winking at Don to gain agreement that 'she was all right'. I saw the contact between the two of them and Roberto just gave me the broadest boyish grin...I could only laugh. It was during one of these periods of non-communication that Roberto told us the boat was....you guessed it...Mauritisia's! It was also during our time together that he said, quite out of the blue "there is no mafia in Lipari...Lipari is good". Mafia may have been absent but there are always those who remain in charge.
This little excursion was a highlight of our time in Lipari. Seeing the island from totally different perspective and enjoying the the time afloat was a sheer delight. The Mediterranean was crystal clear, unpolluted and enhanced by the breeze that kept us cool.
Going to Lipari was a stroke of genius. Each day Larissa and I walked the streets in the early morning sharing the town with the fishermen, the rubbish collectors, other sunrise workers and the old men who gathered each day in their favourite bar or caffe to have their first coffee of the day, meet their friends and no doubt solve problems both domestic and national. The narrow alley ways and the cobble stones lead us into areas we would never have seen in any other way or at any other time. We were attracted on one morning to the sound of female voices singing. We followed the sound to find a tiny tiny church with no more than 6 nuns sitting still, facing the altar. The song in the stillness of the morning was magical and filled the alleyway. This was one of those moments in travelling which stay with you always even when there are no photographs to trigger reminders.
Lipari offered surprises around every corner, sometimes by getting lost in the heat of the day, others while swimming in the hotel pool and being reminded of the idyllic surroundings, and others while meeting people. When it was time for us to pack our bags and make our way to the ferry we spoke of our wonderful good fortune to have visited one of the Aeolian Sisters.