WANTED: One Wife, Unused and in Mint Condition for Gentleman on Lipari

Monday, April 29, 2013

Another 5.30a.m. alarm call.   We had to be at Milazzo in time to catch the 8.00 hydrofoil to the island of Lipari.


Luckily it was a beautiful Spring day and looked to be quite warm too.   By 9 o’clock we were on Lipari’s dock looking for Carmelina’s ‘friendly’ taxi driver who didn’t appear to be around so we had to opt for greasy Mario, or whatever his name was with his thick gelled hair, to take us up to the trailhead at Quattropani where the old kaolin quarries are.   Just a short ride listening to greasy Mario repeating instructions on which road to take for our return to Lipari town and he soon dropped us off at the starting point.


The island of Salina from Lipari


This is the view that greets you as you round the first corner on your way to the trailhead.


We’ve probably been to these islands a thousand times but every time the views never cease to amaze  and take our breath away.


Our trail was a very wide path, somewhat rain damaged, which zigzagged its way down from Quattropani towards the sea.   We were aiming for the thermal area of San Calogero.   If you are a geologist, mineralogist, paleontologist, botanist or zoologist, you will be in seventh heaven here as there is a bit of everything for enthusiasts along this path.   Fossils of the dwarf palm, still growing in this area, can be seen in the overhanging rock faces.   The kaolin or China clay is no longer quarried but in the past it was used for the island’s ceramics industry.


Trail down through the kaolin quarries from Quattropani


At the bottom of Vallone dei Lacci the path starts to climb up again towards the thermal area of San Calogero.  Spring is the best time to admire the wild orchids that grow here.   The giant seagull (Larus Cacchinans) reigns supreme along the cliff edge.  There are just a few villas built in the typical Aeolian style which you pass on your way up to San Calogero.


After walking a couple of hours, a welcome rest can be had at the San Calogero thermal baths.   The construction was built in the late 18th century but unfortunately is not open to the public.  There is also a rather interesting tholos – the beehive shaped funerary monument which is purported to be the only piece of Mycenaean architecture outside the Aegean.   These constructions were subsequently used as shelters by shepherds.


This is also the place where you can meet an odd couple – brother and sister – who drive up from Lipari town every day, come rain or shine, in their ancient Ypsilon Lancia.   They park under the only tree that gives some shade and proceed in displaying an assortment of equally ancient souvenirs on top of the rusty bonnet.    Salvatore (probably what he’s called) also has a rusty telescope and asked us if we wanted to see the stars. 

It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon.    Carmelina engaged him in conversation and he was interested to know if we were married.    After reassuring him that we were he went on to say that he was looking for a wife.    But not any old wife.   The lady he was searching for had to definitely NOT be ‘second hand’.   Nothing less than a pristine virgin, he said.   Off hand we couldn’t think of any.   After unsuccessfully trying to convince him that a nice homely widow of about the same age as him – around 78 – would probably be a better choice, we picked up our backpacks and continued on up the hill to Pianoconte.


From Lipari looking towards snowcapped Mt. Etna


We decided to accept greasy Mario’s advice and take the scenic road down through Santa Margherita to Lipari town which passes by all the VIP villas with views across the sea towards Vulcano and snowcapped Mt. Etna in the background.     Watching the water traffic going in and out of Lipari harbour was also a pleasant distraction as we walked down the road.   All together our trek lasted around 4 hours with an excellent cold beer at the end of it.  Notes regarding the path can be obtained from Carmelina.


Lipari town


Naturally if there is anyone out there interested in the marriage proposal, Carmelina knows how to discreetly put you in touch with the gentleman concerned.

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