La Locanda del Barbablù

Sicily Italy

I saw it disappear in the mist, cast its sharp shadow on the black ground, cover its own top with clouds while a cock crowed every hour – and I don’t blame it. It was easy to forget about it during the day and let your eyes indulge in the blue, only a faint smell of ash recalling its presence. I returned to it at sunset and it let itself be silently walked on until darkness revealed its red, restless flame. A hard bone stuck into the sea, Stromboli offers no shelter, and all things brought there look unnecessary. Some people turned this secluded place into their home; Andrea and Neva came here in the 1980s and converted the old hostel into Locanda Barbablù. You draw the curtains aside and feel like you are descending into the bowels of the volcano. He sips Japanese tea; she sips a glass of wine. They introduce themselves and it feels like coming back from a long journey to someone who’s been waiting for you. The rooms are exotic yet basic; there is a pinecone on the piano, a dolphin on a small table, and colourful stones to hold papers on windy days. By night, you can hear the volcano breathe, low thunder and wood creaking that can wake up light sleepers. You have a feeling that the Locanda witnesses surprising events and Neva and Andrea are their keepers. In the morning, you find them patiently collecting the carpet of bougainvillea flowers and leaves that fell during the night, while their cats caress the house.

Words and images Federica Calzi.

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