Monday, September 11, 2006

Racing up Etna

This weekend was the 42nd running of the Catania-Etna hill-climb race here in Nicolosi. Why "Catania" is in the title, I have no idea, because it actually starts here in Nicolosi and goes up the volcano for 9.2 kilometers. I don't know all the details of it, but I'll tell you what I know.

There are several classes of competition, ranging from "Teeny-Weeny" to "Major Big Professional" race cars. It's a timed race rather than a head-to-head competition. In other words, only one car at a time races up the hill and the fastest time wins. They space the cars out a minute apart, which is supposed to be enough time so they don't run over each other.

Speaking of running over, Sicilian spectators could not seem to stay off the course, despite the best efforts of many policemen and race officials. They kept dashing across the road, sometimes carrying babies, sometimes a sausage sandwich, and they kept getting yelled at for it. One was even pushed up and over the wall alongside the road by a security guard. Nonetheless, they kept doing it and I didn't see anyone actually get killed.

It was a very festive atmosphere on the course up on Etna, with many food vendors (including horsemeat burgers), live cameras, and spectators all over the rough lava rocks alongside the roadway. It was probably the only time I've actually seen Sicilian women wear sensible shoes instead of five-inch spiked heels.

We managed to snag a pretty good spot and watched, ate, and took pictures for a few hours before crawling over the lava to hike back to our car. It was being "watched" by the inevitable Sicilian "parking guy" who charged a mere two euros for parking on a public road in a national park.

The second funniest (aka "stupidest") thing we observed was the long line of cars backing up, in reverse, for kilometers because they somehow thought they could bypass all the zillions of parked cars and zoom right up to the spectator area and find a parking place. Hahahaha! Surprise! We observed this phenomena both on our way in and our way out. It was quite comical and worth the two euros for parking.


At September 13, 2006 8:57 PM, Blogger Sicilian Mama said...

Yeah, anytime there is a traffic slowdown of any kind, there are always hot shots who are way more important than everyone else in line who just have to pass the other slow slugs by driving in the oncoming lane. We figure Darwinian odds kills these jerks off first so that they are a dying breed, and we might as well enjoy them.I love that you got to witness them backing up for miles!

At September 13, 2006 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Rick: "Gosh, I miss that place!" From Hope: "Thanks for the memories....I was transported for a few moments! XOXOX"

At September 14, 2006 3:25 PM, Anonymous Leslie Deal said...

I want to go back!!! Thank for giving me just a taste so I can keep my flame for Bella Sicilia alive and well.


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