The tree, cut in half by a wall, hides part of the landscape that I am admiring.
I am in a place where there are few trees. This tree, which does not allow me a complete view of what I have in front of me, is one of those few that has managed to take root in this area.
And to think that, a few hundred meters downstream, there are thousands of trees: they are the woods of the middle belt of the highest volcano in Europe.
My lonely tree has managed to grow among the old lava that the volcano has erupted over thousands of years and I want, at this moment, to be part of what my vision is transmitting to my whole being.
Knowing what I will see, I feel the first shivers of pleasure.
Here from the ridge on which I am, I still take a few steps so that the tree moves a little and allows me thus, stirring ever more intense sensations, to admire in its entirety an immense spectacle that nature has created: the Valle del Bove in Zafferana Etnea.
You can get there by following a path that starts from Monte Pomiciaro, which first insinuates itself into the chestnut woods, then, as the trees thin out, it climbs between the old lava covered with moss and lichen, until the ground becomes naked and dry.
Here the path, traced by the innumerable steps of visitors, moves forward until it is the divider of two ridges. The path, now slightly flattened, and the two ridges, refer to an image that evokes a rural world that has now disappeared: we have reached the ‘donkey’s back’.
So as soon as the tree leaves the view free, the valley suddenly opens on my right which, for you to admire it, forces you to sit down, makes you immerse yourself in the nature thus becoming one with it.
Chills of pleasure and feelings of absolute peace pervade you.
It is a natural reservoir of lavas spilling from that side of the volcano, it represents a sure barrier to the flow of magma towards the nearby inhabited centres. This immense basin was formed when a part of Etna collapsed sinking some hundreds of meters.
Its often irregular walls are called ‘dikes’ such as the one called the Concazze. This, however, which culminates with the ‘donkey’s back’, is more regular than the others and is called the Salifice dike (scorpion).
I continue the journey and I am going to reach the end point of the path surmounted by an iron cross. There I sit and my gaze sweeps 360 degrees, admiring the majesty of the place.
Yet it goes further.
After the grey of the old lava and the almost black of the younger ones, here is the green of the first pines, then the denser green of the chestnut trees and finally the sea that shines from afar an intense blue.
The coast winds its way up to catch a glimpse of Taormina and, even further away, the continent with the first reliefs of Calabria. I turn around and the lava flows, climbing and becoming more and more indefinite, fade into a blue-grey that is the dominant colour of the volcano seen from afar.
Every time I get to this place it’s like I’m seeing it for the first time. Something appears changed, I pick up some new details or that I had not seen, but every time that same feeling of inner peace and tranquillity is renewed.
This is a place of the soul, almost a medicine, or rather, a drug, which cannot be dispensed with. Unfortunately I have to suffer long periods of abstinence but, every time I come back to Sicily, my dose is always at hand and I greedily take advantage of it.
I remain indefinitely to enjoy this show, making my own verse of my favourite poet: “and being shipwrecked is sweet to me in this sea“.
Then sated with that food for thought, I continue the journey home, giving a silent and hopeful goodbye to my valley.