We live in a house that overlooks a magnificent valley here in Sicily. Ever since we've moved in, Elliott's been itching to explore the whole valley, not just a little traipse here and there. Finally he had a four-day weekend and so last Saturday we packed our bags and set out for the day.
Our goal was the highest rise on the other side of the valley, which is about eye-level from our balcony and goal we've been studying since we moved in. For a refresher, here's an older photo of that highest point:
We hiked down into the valley, past the farm in the foreground of the photo, jumped the stream in the middle of the valley, and started up the steep hillside on the opposite bank. At last we achieved our goal! We stood triumphant overlooking our lovely Italian countryside. We could see the Mediterranean, the whole Plain of Catania, and the queen Mt Etna presiding over this little piece of the world.
We headed down the ridgeline until we found a quiet spot for a picnic.
"I'd like the whole biscuit, please, Mama."
A pause for a diaper change...
We continued through sunlit olive groves. All the olives were picked for the season, but they're disgustingly inedible right off the trees anyway. Much brining is required before they become the savory snack we get from our neighbors.
Prickly pears are in season. Haven't figured out how to eat them yet.
We also found a dormant vineyard, tied up neatly for the winter season. Little raisins hung in clusters from a few of the branches. I can't wait to see the vineyard again when the vines are heavy with grapes. Perhaps we could even find a bottle of wine made from the grapes grown here!
Elliott (and Lena) spotted some local birds. His eyes are amazing. He'll suddenly stop and stare at something that I can't see, swing his binoculars around and study it a little more, and then announce, "Hmm, I think that's a...," and then check his book to be sure. He's almost always right. How does he know these things??
At our farthest point from our town (visible in the background of this photo) we were in the middle of orange groves. Most of the blood oranges had been picked for the season but we found some discards on the ground. They were so sweet and rich with their shockingly red flesh. (No photos of them, though, because our hands were too sticky!)
There were still plenty of mandarins, though, and we found a few of those on the ground to taste as well. They were so refreshing and sweet.
And finally we hiked home, weary and triumphant. We have explored our whole valley now, from its quiet groves to its delicious fruits. How many more hikes in how many more seasons await us in these next few years!