Some months ago, friends of ours from Northern Italy were relocating to Sicily. They were talking about what they would take with them and what could possibly be left in storage. In my innocence I suggested that, as they were moving so far down South maybe they wouldn’t need all of their winter coats and boots, etc. Now we too have made the same move, I have had a number of opportunities to laugh at my hopeless naivity.
Yes, we do get wonderful blue skies and sunshine regularly but, oh my goodness me, come night time it gets cold. I know I have alluded to this before, but Italian homes are not the small, warm, cosy affairs we are used to in the UK. Large rooms, lots of marble and tiled floors as well as windows designed to keep the sun out can make it feel so chilly. After a relatively mild winter we are experiencing a very wet, cold Spring.
As you will see from the above picture, we have had plenty of snow on Etna (actually since this picture was taken quite a lot more has been deposited). A lot of snow on Etna means near torrential rain down at our level. The volcanic rock doesn’t drain the water away nicely, so our area can experience flooding.
However, this hasn’t stopped us getting out and about. Last week we visited a pretty little town called Vizzini. Even under moody skies it looked picturesque. We had a lot of fun strolling around the market and being invited to to try a selection of olives, peppers and other produce. I will have to share more about shopping here in another post. Suffice to say for now, to really get a true flavour of Sicily, you have to visit the markets and the small shops. Every area, no matter how tiny, has some food it is well known for. In Vizzini it is Ricotta and another cheese called Primo Sale. The lady in the cheese shop had us try a number of samples. So enthusiastic was she about her subject, even as we were leaving the shop laden down with fresh, still warm, ricotta, Tuma and Primo Sale, she was recommending cheese that we should consider next time we visit. Visit again we shall.
Yes, we did get rain on our visit to Vizzini but that didn’t mean it was all grey and miserable. Just look at these steps! These are called Salita Lucio Marineo. Every single step is decorated with ceramic tiles of a different pattern. I’m afraid I tried to count them but I sort of lost count half way up.
The bad weather has led to a lot of enforced indoorsiness. This has allowed me to finish off a cross stitch design I have been worrying away at for a while now. I find that it is best not to force the designing part of the process. I just do a bit at a time and it comes together slowly. As the small sample above illustrates, it is in keeping with my usual style of multi-coloured fair isle.
Last week I reached the point when I knew I could design no longer and start making up the sample. The design will get tweaked considerably as I go but I find certain decisions need to be made once the pattern starts to develop on the hoop.
I am also taking some time to sketch out some freehand embroidery ideas. This is a very first draft – maybe even a pre-first draft! This pictures well illustrate why my blog is called Ambrosia Stitches and not Ambrosia Sketches. However, it is the start of an idea that involves a number of the experiments and techniques I have learned in recent years. I am looking forward to seeing how this goes.
This weekend my parents and youngest brother come to visit. We are so looking forward to seeing them and introducing them to Sicily. Whilst it will be great to take them sledging on Mount Etna, I do hope the skies will be blue rather than moody.