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Cettina and Filippo – A Walk on the Peloritani Mountains

October 8, 2012

Peloritani – In the Backdrop the Tyrrenean Sea and Stromboli

When driving from the city of Messina, close to the eastern tip of Sicily to the town of Monforte S. Giorgio, on the Peloritani Mountain Range, one can either drive along the northern coast of Sicily, the Tyrrenean Coast, or through the Peloritani Mountain Range.  This mountain range has been called “a balcony” as its location offers, from different spots, a view of the Ionian Sea on the eastern coast, the Tyrrenean on the northern coast, the Aeolian Islands, the Nebrodi Mountain Range to the west and also Mt. Etna and its surrounding areas.

The town of Monforte S. Giorgio is perched up on top of one of the mountains overlooking the valleys below and behind it lies the Tyrrenean coast.  I rode through the mountains on a sunny Fall day with Cettina anf Filippo to visit their orchards.  They sell their products through the local fair trade network and own Az Agr. Bitto.  Upon arrival, we started our walk through the woods and orchards. We were met by some friends of theirs, Patrizia, Matteo and Santino.  Patrizia, who works for the University of Messina, has also founded a G.A.S. in Messina, “Quelli dell’orto” and they were visitng that day too. 

As we walked through the woods and adjacent orchard, we were immersed in a richness of colors, fragrances and plush vegetation.  There were citrus trees, persimmon, chestnuts, a bay laurel tree and different kinds of apple trees, one of which was a local type called “lappeddi”.  One kind of tree I had not seen in many, many years is the Rowan, called Sorbo in Italian, and I found it there.  As a child I remember eating the fruit in Fall and over the years I had never run into this fruit and wondered about its existence.  I believe there are not many Rowan trees left in this area, but this one bore fantastic fruit, and I cannot describe in words what it felt like to taste that fruit after so many years!

 Sorbo Fruit

While exploring Sicily I have enjoyed learning about some wild vegetables typical of specific areas and on the Peloritani with this lively group I learned about some that were new to me. There was the “equiseto”, which I was told grows in moist areas, and once its needles are removed, the stem is cooked in the way one would cook asparagus.  Then we found “porcellana”, called “pucciddana” in Sicilian, (I hope I have spelled it correctly as we discussed the difference between the Sicilian dialect of Catania and that of Messina) and malva. Pucciddana and malva, I learned, are eaten in salads. Finally we saw a large type of mushroom, boletus crysenteron, and I thank Matteo for his knowledge in providing the name of this mushroom and explaining its characteristics.  It is interesting to be reminded of the differences in the local Sicilian dialects and how the words can be totally different or the same with a different pronuntiation.  As I have travelled around Sicily, this topic has been one that has brought laughter and articulated discussion and as a lover of languages one I enjoy.



Unfortunately, this region of the Peloritani has experienced landslides due to poor choices made by some people. As we observed the landscapes around us, and specifically the mountains around us, Santino, pointed out areas where landslides had occurred.  You could see furrows on the mountain side.  Santino, also explained many interesting facts about ways one can recognize where bodies of water might lie below the earth and he pointed out some of these during our walk. 

One of the furrows on mountain side in front of our view

An old mill sitting in this beautful setting

What beautiful people and places!


From → I Siquillyahni

  1. pamela permalink

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take this old Mill and renovate it into a Bed and Breakfast or such?
    As always, pamela


  2. Michael DiBerardinis permalink


    I have enjoyed reading your Sicilian stories. My wife and I live in Philadelphia and travel each year to Italy and Sicily. We love Sicily with all its contradictions and unique beauty. My mother was born in Sicily (Monforte San Giorgio) and came to the States as a child. So, I was surprised and happy to read about your visit with my cousin Cettina and her husband Filippo. They sent me your ‘blog’ and I am a new fan. I look forward to seeing more of your travels and experiences.

    Michele DiBerardinis


    • Michele,

      I am so pleased to hear from you and that you have enjoyed reading the posts of my blog on Sicily. I truly enjoyed meeting your cousin, Cettina, and her husband, Filippo. It is true, so many love Sicily with all its contradictions and beauty!

      Thank You!


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