|Milazz's beautiful castle stencilled against the industrial zone|
I returned to Milazzo mid-September after a long summer in Ireland - time enough to give birth to our bambina in the wonderful mid-wife led facilities in the north of Ireland - a far cry from local birthing options.
What awaited me upon our return? Extravagant heat - still in the 30s in the shade, exhausting sirocco wind, mosquitoes and cockroaches galore and ...
... a HUGE FIRE at the oil refinery, located a mere five kilometres from the town centre. A westerly wind was blowing the night the massive refinery caught fire, sending huge plumes of smoke spiralling towards mountain towns behind. The people of Pace del Mela and Santa Lucia packed their cars and fled in droves as the flames illuminated Milazzo's Manhattan skyline.
No one was hurt, and refinery workers managed to contain the fire so as to limit damage. But for several days after, mushroom clouds spread in the direction of prevailing winds, so that nowhere was unaffected by the fallout.
What have we been breathing since then? All the invisible, noxious particles that make their way into our lungs... What if there had been a sirocco wind that night? We'd have had to pack up and flee for Montalbano with our five week old and four year old.
We've been thinking lately: do we really want to stay here, inhaling unknown quantities of pollution? I say it every time I come back from Ireland: the first thing you notice about Milazzo is the poor air quality.