A Driving Tour of Salina, Il Postino and Language Lessons

After our explorations of Lipari and Salina yesterday the weather was going to keep us on the island of Salina today. I woke up early at about 6 am and stuck my head out of the boat. A beautiful sunrise was in the making so I grabbed my camera and took in the pink, orange and peach coloured hues of this glorious sunrise in Santa Marina. Dark coloured clouds were hanging on the horizon. A catamaran had just pulled out of the harbour and provided an interesting anchor point for my photos.

A gorgeous sunrise in Santa Marina di Salina

Shortly after it started to rain and when we got up for breakfast our skipper Francesco explained that the weather forecast today may not be good enough for us to leave the island, so we have to have a briefing in the early afternoon. Two additional guests had arrived, Franco, another Italian teacher and the co-owner of Laboratorio Linguistico, and his friend Agnieszka, a young music student from Poland who was learning Italian since she was studying music in Rome. Our trusted four-cabin sailboat, the Solitaire II, now had passengers in every cabin, and there were seven of us traveling now.

On our driving tour of Salina, with two local experts

Herbert, the German television travel journalist, was on an official location scouting trip for his travel show to gather intelligence for next year’s shoot which would feature the Italian learning experience on board of a sailboat, provided by Francesco’s company, Laboratorio Linguistico. Herbert needed to check out all the interesting spots, the lighting, the locations and the facilities so he would be able to make plans for the script and the camera crew that would come down from Germany next year to film the extraordinary experience of learning Italian on a sailboat while cruising through the beautiful Eolian Islands.

A visit to the local museum in Lingua: Giancarlo and Sabina, our guides

So in order to get to know the island better Herbert had asked Francesco to make arrangements with some local experts to take him to different spots on the island. Herbert graciously offered to take other people along on his island exploration, and Claudia and me excitedly agreed. Sure enough, Sabina Giuffré, who we had already met last night at dinner, and her local friend Giancarlo, came to pick us up in a rented vehicle to give us a tour of the island.

Shoreline in Lingua

We were nice and comfy in the small Italian vehicle and after just a 10 minute drive, we had arrived at our first stop: the “Gola del Diablo”, a gorge cut into the black and brown volcanic rock, featuring an ancient Roman bridge. The stone formations were indeed impressive, and the layers of ancient lava flows were clearly visible.

Claudia and Giancarlo are enjoying the granitas

We also stopped in the village of Lingua where we visited a local ethnographic museum that featured various exhibits, illustrating the ancient ways of life on this local island. An ancient millstone, various farming implements, even an original bedroom from a farm were exhibited in this museum. This small museum provides great insight into the traditional lifestyle on these islands. We then walked around the corner and steps away is the main square of this tiny town. Here at the Bar “Da Alfredo” we congregated and received free samples of granitas – the semi-frozen Sicilian dessert composed of sugar, water and different flavourings such as strawberry, melon, peach, orange, lime, coffee, almonds and many others.

An ominous sky hangs over Lingua and Bar Da Alfredo

Similar to sorbets, granitas usually have larger crystals, and the locals often eat them in combination with a brioche. The black sky overhanging the mountains was ominous, but a bright ray of sunshine lit up the façades of the houses around the square. A big husky dog was snoozing contentedly on the floor and I was wondering how this poor dog with his thick fur would be able to handle the hot Sicilian summers. The locals were very hospitable and humorous banter was flying back and forth.

Sabina Giuffré with her dad in front of their bed and breakfast

From here we drove back through Salina, dropped off Giancarlo and stopped at Sabina’s house which she has turned into a bed and breakfast . Salina’s dad came to greet us and I couldn’t help but detect a resemblance to famous actor Kirk Douglas. He graciously picked some “nespole” (loquat fruits) for us from his fruit tree. These fruits, originally indigenous to Southeastern China and grown in warm climates around the world today, are similar in appearance to apricots and are similarly sweet and juicy.

View towards Malfa, one of 3 main villages on Salina

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