The following morning we left the northern coast and headed inland towards Siracusa on the south east coast, a drive of four hours. The scenery driving south across the island was spectacular, the bright colours of spring assaulted our eyeballs with vivid green fields, yellow wild flowers thickly scattered along the roadside and almond trees in full blossom. Every available patch of the surrounding countryside was being cultivated, there were acres of citrus orchards and many small plots growing a variety of vegetables. The sun was shining and the temperature rose to eighteen degrees although snow was clearly visible on the distant mountains. We drove past Mount Etna, almost 11,000 feet high, the largest volcano in Europe and one of the world’s largest active volcanos. Etna had been in a continual state of eruption since 1998, the latest eruption being in 2002 when lava engulfed a village on its northern side. It looked quiet enough to us as we drove by, its snow covered peak appeared to be suspended in the air against the blue sky, its lower regions almost invisible in the distance.
Once we reached the coastal plain the scenery became much less dramatic. Our camp site near Avola was perfect, perched above a sandy beach on sunny terraces. The owners were pleasant and very welcoming. There was a restaurant close by but it was not due to open until 8 pm. We had breakfasted early and had not stopped for lunch so we did not want to wait that long. So it was pasta with home cooked garlicky tomato sauce. Whilst we were cooking we were visited by various cats, all looking healthy and well fed. We had no meat cooking but a handsome ginger Tom hopped into the camper to see what was on offer to eat. There was a spot of pasta sauce spilled on the floor which he readily licked up – and then he promptly left. There may have been a bit too much chilli in it for feline tastes!