February 28, 2017: Etna Erupts

Dominica comes home today!  It’s been eight days since she left to take the bus to Catania.  I got up at nine, did some writing, some laundry, showered and got the girls up to try to get them to the local market before it closed.

It was a struggle, but I got the girls out the door minutes before noon and we made our way up to the grocery and panificio and got a few basics.  The girls picked out a chocolate covered snack cake called Mix Max which was actually incredibly tasty.  Liesl loved in, but said that it was not as good as the giant Swiss cake rolls that we used to get in Greece.  I had forgotten about those, we used to get them all of the time.

Dominica and Ryan slept in and missed the first bus, and then figured that they should get lunch before leaving Catania, so missed the second bus as well.  That gave me a lot more time to clean the house.

While making coffee this morning I got interrupted and forgot that I had coffee on the stove and I cooked down the coffee and melted the percolator.  That was interesting.

We did loads of cleaning today.  Dishes, laundry, floors.  Luciana has been trying to sweep the floors for the last few days, too.  Liesl has been super busy cleaning up things all over the house to get it ready.  They’ve both been great helpers.

It was mid-afternoon when it was finally time to go down and meet the bus with Dominica and Ryan arriving.  So the girls and I walked down to the playground near the bus stop and they played for a bit while we waited on the bus to get close.  While we were there I ended up striking up a conversation with some tourists from Alba who were visiting Noto and they were from just across the ravine from the village where we stayed near Alba five years ago.  Small world.

The bus was only a couple of minutes late.  Dominica could see the girls running across the parking lot waving to her as her bus came up the street.  They were very excited to have their mom back home again.

The girls had a lot of pent up energy so we took them to the playground for a while and there were blow up bouncy houses there.  It was four Euros for the two of them and they played for twenty minutes or more, maybe even half an hour.  There was a bouncy house and a big bouncy slide.  They had such a good time.  They have been wanting to play in one of these for a long time now and never get a chance.  They’ve been seeing these deflated in the park so were super excited to see that they were in use today.  And this gave the rest of us a chance to just sit and hang out at the park.

After the playground we stopped by the main square for coffee and gelato.  Although we picked a new gelato place and it was not very good, but not cheaper than the good stuff.  I guess that we were getting a pretty good deal before and just did not know it.

From there, up the hill to the house.  We discovered pretty quickly that Mount Etna, the giant volcano here on the island, started erupting today for the first time in eight months.  And it started just an hour after Dominica and Ryan left Catania (the city at the base of the volcano) so they did not get to see it even though they were right there.  It was a real eruption with it blowing its top and everything.  Lots of lava shooting into the sky all evening, we watched live video of it.  Noto is just too far away to see it.  If we were around the other side of our mountain, I think that it would be visible, but we cannot see it from the house as we face the wrong direction.  Everyone is very sorry to be missing that, especially after the girls watched Journey to the Center of the Earth which features it and we had talked about volcanoes so much this week, and Etna in particular.

Dominica was exhausted tonight, but Ryan was ready to go see some stuff as this is his first night in Noto.  So we set out to walk around town and look for some food.  Dominica wanted pizza, but we went down to the normal pizza place and they were closed tonight.  So we ended up setting off for a long exploration around town looking for alternative pizza options.  To make sure that we managed to get something for the kids, we started with a quick trip to the food truck to pick up fries for them and dropped those off at the house before setting out on a longer search.  On this walk the girls came with us and we made rather a long scouting trip looking for restaurants that were open but found very few and none that did pizza.

Panino Truck in Noto

It was a long walk, several miles, and we went all over but eventually ended up on the west side of town and discovered two places that were open.  One was EuroPizza which had some really interesting sounding pizzas including one with a pistachio pesto, but it was just a take out place like the one on our side of town.  Then we found a fancy pizza place down in the ravine that we checked out.  We ended up at Casa Matta Noto.

The place was actually super busy and we were lucky to get in without reservations!  There were just two small tables left in the whole place.  Their outdoor seating was full, but we got a spot near the kitchen.  The restaurant was great.  Great food and service and the atmosphere reminded me of an upscale Roman restaurant.

I had chicory filled ravioli and we split a litre of Nero d’Avola.  Dominica had wanted pizza so we got take out for her.  Two small pizzas, one a traditional Norma (a standard pizza but with eggplant added to it) and an Enzina which has no cheese but is covered in chips (French fries.)  Very different and only in Italy.

Chicory Stuffed Ravioli

It was pretty late when we walked back across town to the house.  But it was a successful evening out. Dominica really liked the pizza that we brought back, too.