This is some experiences from our little family, travelling in a camper in Sicily from January-April 2017, visiting different communities and eco-villages and travel as a family in alternative ways. We pretty much only stayed on the eastern part of Sicily, so this is just about that part.
Some of the places I found before on the internet, others were contacts from friends. I don't want to put people's personal contact information up here - some of the places have public contact information others not, but you can ask me if you are interested in contacts for any of the places or ask around - the Italian Rainbow Family group on facebook is a good place to ask.
Communities and Eco-Villages.
CIUMARA RANNI, Sortino
no website, "Ecovillagio Ciumara Ranni" on Google Maps
Most people eat together in Casa del Pero and ask a contribution of 5€ a week towards food.
There was no toilet at the time we were there.
When we first came in January it was quite cold, humid and muddy, but when we returned in April it was already much more warm and sunny!
Ciumara Ranni is on "borrowed land" - having restored the land in 2012 that had been abandoned for a long time. They have a couple of gardens and fruit trees. The gardens were a bit dormant at the time we were there though, but the wild food was gathered and used in almost every meal!
We tried to bring the camper down one time, but it was so difficult to get back up that we stayed with the camper on the road. It was a bit uncomfortable to have to go up and down every time with Willow though,
|Overlook from the road|
|Inside Casa del Pero|
|Willow and Welcome Home|
|When we came back in April!|
VALLONE, Ragusano website
|Kitchen and indoor eating area|
I knew about Vallone from a couple of different friends who has stayed there. Filip, one of the founders/owners are half Danish and lived for a while in Copenhagen, so that's where my friends knew him from.Vallone consists of a small outdoor, covered main kitchen and little inside eating area (just enough for a table and some chairs). A strawbale house where a couple lives, and another with a compost toilet and shower (with wood burning water heater). Filip was, at the moment, building a tiny little strawbale house for himself, and planning to build a bigger one after he's learned from the small one. Other people are living in tents or campers on the side of the road, since it's not possible to bring them to the land. There are about 6-7 people living here permanent.
Weather-wise Vallone was a nicer place to stay in winter than Ciumara - there is more sun, warmer ground temperature and less rain - which on the other hand is a problem for them because they don't have enough water in the summer. They are currently building ponds to preserve water for the summer.Vallone is nice because it has a lot of "smart gadgets" if you can call them that - they are for example completely self-sustainable in cooking, not using gas, but having both a solar-cooker, one big and one small stove that converts small pieces of wood and almond husks into gas and carbon, plus a regular wood burning stove. They also have an "earth-fridge" and a bicycle washing machine and so on.
The people at Vallone are very hospitable and will share their meals and won't ask you for any help unless you offer it yourself, and I am sure it is appreciated.
|Willow in the garden|
ECO-ADVENTURE, Pattiwww.eco-adventure.org - "Eco Adventure" on Google Maps
|Entrance with our camper|
Christian wants to build a sort of adventure park for children, but a lot of the project is also about living without money, helping people for "better exchanges" as he says.
The Adventure Hill consists of the beautiful orange grove with a lot of tents under (Christian still lives in a tent after 7 years on the land), an outdoor normal fireplace for cooking (though at the moment we were there, most of the cooking was done in a rented house up the road). Then there are two gardens next to the oranges and a pond with a fresh water spring with good drinking water, an almost finished compost toilet and the hill where the donkey Hercules roams - Enter on own risk, even though the temporary toilet was in the donkey-area at this moment, Roberto got bit really bad by Hercules while entering!
The nice thing for us at the eco-adventure was that we could park our camper right under the orange trees on the land! Maybe that's part of the reason why we stayed so long (just about 2 weeks, but longer than we stayed at one time any other place). Not having to go far up and down with Willow and always having our home right there - with the fresh water spring, oranges and everything was very comfortable.
Christian also showed us a lot of things around and took Willow to ride on his friend's ponies - very exciting for Willow!
The place is very relaxed without really any rules or schedules, but help is asked in form of cooking, cleaning, gardening and helping with the current building project. Actually apart from the building, I never saw Christian doing any of the other things himself ;)
|Our view from the camper|
|The ponies (neighbours)|
|Tent of Austrian family passing by|
|me picking oranges|
3 FONTANE, Notono website, situated at the end of the road "Tre Fontane" near Noto
I just meantion this place quickly here! I am not even sure it is called 3 Fontane (but it is at the spring called 3 Fontane). This place is on the top of a hill at the end of a valley. You cannot get there by car, but have to climb the hill on foot. We knew the place from a friend who used to live there and a guy who used to live in Vallone also lives here now, but when we arrived there was nobody home and we just looked around and went to the spring and then back down, so I don't have a lot more to say, apart from that the place had a really magical calmness over it. Maybe by the fact that there were no people ;) But apart from that, there were no sounds to hear other than an echo of the breeze and a lizard in the grass. And maybe a bee buzzing by. I always wanted to come back to this place again, but we never managed to do so.
OTHER THINGS AND PLACES
Every thursday evening around 21:30-22 in Messina a group of people meet in the little square behind the Duomo and dance! Everybody can join - the dances are fairly simple traditional folk dances. Nice people and a good atmosphere. Apparently this is quite common in south Italy, but I don't know the time and places of other towns.
Ortigia the island with the old town of Siracusa is a very beautiful! There's a good atmosphere, possible to sell things and do busking too. It has a great fruit and veggie market everyday and a couple of vegetarian restaurants.Bronte is famous for its pistachios and it is nice to go and see he trees and taste all the different products. That being said, you can taste the pistachio products from Bronte all over Sicily and the town itself is nothing special (and cold in winter).
Cefalù on the north coast is quite touristy, but travelling in the winter where most other places are ghost towns - it was actually nice with some life! There is a really nice old town with small streets and a sandy beach and old ruins.
|Pool of Venus, Milazzo|
|Jessie and Carlo's place|
|Jessie and Carlos Place|
Also Alessandro and Masha have an amazing place near Millazzo. Masha is Russian and Alessandro is Sicilian and they have a little son. Their garden is really a masterpiece in progress! It is like an edible jungle, with so many varieties of fruits and vegetables. Everything from apples and cherries to kiwis, avocados, mango, bananas and lots of oranges! Alessandro has an amazingly wide knowledge of plants and trees, crafting and pruning and also of medicinal plants and healing.
|Alessandro and Masha's place|
|Alessandro and Masha's place|
|sunset and Eolean islands on the north coast|
Knowing the wild edible food is a really good skill while travelling and Sicily is a wonderland of wild food! It is also a really beautiful activity that is almost meditative, brings you closer in touch with nature and sharpens the senses. In contrast to buying food in a supermarket where all the bright colours and writings compete for your attention and overwhelm the senses, when you forage you have to pay close attention, look out and listen with all the senses.
FREE FOOD & FORAIGING
The more I learn of what to eat from the wild here in Sicily, the more it seams like just everything green is edible! There are really so many greens here, that no matter where you are, with a bit of nature, you can almost always go out and collect a salad or greens to your meal. And they all have different flavours and textures!
I already knew some edibles from my 2 months living in caves in Crete - much of the vegetation is similar, but I've gotten to learn many more here on Sicily by now.
I could give a list, but many of the plants I don't even know the name of - either the people who have shown us know just the local dialect or I've forgotten the names. I learn better by look, smell and texture! I'll give some examples, but my advice is to just ask the locals. Actually we haven't even had to ask, we just keep finding people showing us plants. Also in the different communities, they use a lot the wild edibles. There is a big tradition, it seems, on these Mediterranean islands, to pick and use greens from the wild.
Other ways to find free food is to ask at the markets for vegetables they cannot sell, or go when the market is over and pick what's left behind. About regular dumpster diving in supermarkets we haven't had really any luck. Most places are locked away.
Some wild pickings:
|someone called it bastone di san giuseppe, but not sure it is the real name!|
|some wild cabbage family fermented and dried!|
|malva and plantago|
|foraging in Ragusa Ibla|
|a bag full of herbs! Sage and thyme|
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