Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Into the Woods: Signs of Autumn in the Nebrodi Mountains

Sicily has been basking in sunshine until just a few days ago, with hardly any signs of the autumn season we love so much.

So it was up to us to seek out some of those sights, smells and flavors to welcome in the season. 

Our excursion to Cesaro,  a small town on the Western edge of the Nebrodi mountains, was the perfect opportunity to do just that. After sampling some of the local delicacies (wild mushrooms for the vegetarian, Nebrodian black pig for the carnivores), we headed out of town looking for the 
woods.


View of Cesaro' from the edge of the woods


We didn't have to go very far.



Wooded hillside of the Nebrodi mountains


Just a few kilometers from town a tree covered hillside with a dirt road invited us to explore.



Exploring the Nebrodi


Soon we left the path to trailblaze our own way, weaving through the maze of trees. 

We weren't expecting to see the wild pigs and horses the area is known for this close to town, but we were on the lookout for wild mushrooms. 



 Wild mushroom scavenger hunt


Let me preface our mushroom scavenging by announcing that we are total amateurs and know nothing about edible vs poisonous mushrooms. We assumed they were all poisonous and were intent only on admiring the various specimens. Once my son got a hang of it, he was spotting all types of mushrooms sprouting up from the thick layer of pine needles and dried leaves covering the ground beneath the trees. They really do come in all shapes and sizes...


Mushrooms abound in the Nebrodi moutnains


From tiny specimens....



Our largest find in the Nebrodi mountains



...to enormous ones!



Travel sketch inspired by wild mushrooms scavenged in the Nebrodi mountains.
You can check out more of my work here.


Wouldn't it be fun to illustrate a guide of the different wild mushrooms that grow in these parts?  For now I let my imagination run wild with these quirky, whimsical shapes.



Saffron flower (crocus satvius)


The only interruption to the subdued autumn colors on our woodland exploration was the occasional bright purple saffron flower (crocus satvius). These can be spotted in mountains all across Sicily in the autumn season. 

Next time I hope to venture further into the Nebrodian wild. There are some gorgeous lakes, lovely hikes and good opportunities to spot wildlife.