In Autumn 2014, while on a weeks day holiday in Malta I took the opportunity to go on an organised day trip to Sicily. I only needed to read two words about the excursion and I was sold -Mount Etna. There is something alluring about an active volcano, and one with a large population centre so close by. During the day trip I was fascinated that the differences between Malta and Sicily are striking in so many ways even though they are in such close proximity to each other.
11 months and one eruption later, I took another weeks holiday to Malta with a second trip to Sicily seemingly compulsory. This time I wanted stay in Sicily a few nights and I came across the rather enticing La Rosa Di Finale villa, close to Cefalu on the Northern coastline. The flight from Malta took around 30 minutes, and exiting Catania airport Mount Etna was dominating the skyline with a plume of smoke emerging from the top. Once we picked up our hire car, this was a first destination. After leaving Catania and passing through Nicolosi the road paving and buildings go dark in colour with bricks and blocks that were cut from volcanic rock. My second time on Etna was just as special as the first trip, and I was quite happy to spend several hours there in awe and admiration of both the destructive forces of nature, and it’s ability to regenerate.
Driving in Sicily on this trip has given me a new found appreciation for engineering. The bridges, tunnels and aqueducts that traverse the landscape, make for fascinating driving by motorway. These works of engineering allow for ease of transportation around the island. On to the villa, the directions we received from Gavan off the motorway to the villa, La Rosa di Finale, was very simple and easy to find. We were warmly welcomed by Franca who showed us everything we needed to know about the very modern villa. Within a few feet of the front door are olive trees, lime trees, vines, a vegetable patch and next door is a working farm with lots of friendly looking cows. In front of the villa is a sea view and behind is a hilltop village. Each evening just after it got dark, we could hear a bell ringing from the direction of the hilltop village. Staying at the villa really felt like we were engaged with our surroundings.
Over the next few days the villa was quite a convenient location for our visits to Palermo & Messina, we enjoyed the nearby beaches, dined locally in Finale, and acquired some Marsala wine. Having the use of the hirecar and staying at the villa afforded us a pleasantly different experience as visitors, from chillaxing in the morning with breakfast outdoors to returning in the evening and watching the sunset into the sea.
Next year I am already planning another Malta and Sicily adventure which has now become a tradition! I want to stay longer as it is needed to enjoy more of what can be experienced in such a wonderful part of the Mediterranean.