This is our last week here in Giardini Naxos as we will be moving on to Syracuse this week. Last night rang in the new year, both Jas and myself crashed out at 23.00pm Zoey and Jas in the bed as the thunderstorms were over head. George and myself on the settee. The New Year rang in a glory of fireworks, no one was sleeping through that. Paolo and his friends were setting them off on the roof of the derelict building, behind his office. Like missiles they fired over our camper and lit up the room even with the blinds closed. Poor Zoey, her worst nightmare, thunderstorms, fireworks and Etna still booming like a rocket. George looking round and worried about Zoey, he cuddled in. The fireworks don’t affect him, he just worries about Zoey. Bless him. As the display ended the music started, and I had to smile. Old traditional music, happy in its nature. How could you not smile. All quiet by 1 am not too bad for a New Year. It’s bitterly cold. Etna is covered in snow from the recent rain and the wind is biting. Everyone here smiles at us and is always asking freddo (cold?). As we wear jandels 90% of the time and Jas is still in shorts. I walked into town today to use the laundromat, a great way to start the new year. I wasnt expecting anyone there, but the owners father was in. We chatted for a while and he said he’s there to help the locals as its new, the concept of a laundromat and they don’t know how to use it. So he just smiled when I went about my loading and unloading of washing. Even taking off my sweatshirt to wash. He and his friend also asking freddo? I said I was from New Zealand so this is warm. They laughed and then said “mare”(sea) and indicated swimming. My turn to laugh I said “mare no molto freddo”(sea no very cold). Now we are all laughing. The friend finishes his washing and wishes me Ciao (bye). Its something that I love here, the comradely, the instant friendships, the warm welcomes. Paolo asking this morning how I am, and good new year. Marirosa greeting me with kisses and asking if I enjoyed the fireworks. The same families visit on weekends and it is very much a happy place to be. In the morning the men sit out in their chairs. Drinking coffee. The afternoon the bbqs are on and the cooking of fish, chicken and meats. The women preparing the other food in the kitchen. It’s all about family here, the weekends they spend together. It makes you think this is the way it should be, quality time. Walking back from the laundromat today, the streets full of families walking the promenade, having lunch in the many restaurants open today. The ocean clear and as today on a clear day you can see mainland Italy. The walk back takes you down the back streets, past the fish monger shops and the narrow alleyways connecting the streets above and below. The balconies with the overhanging washing and the statues and pottery. The one way streets and mixture of three-wheeled vehicles, smart cars and scooters. Its nice here and summer you could see it would be busy. You can fly from Bristol to Catania. Something we may do in years to come as who doesn’t like Sicily. A place that should be on anyones travel list. So with that welcome to 2019 everyone.