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Hello From Sicily Italian Studies, A Pottery Lesson And A Hike Up Mount Etna}

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Hello From Sicily Italian Studies, A Pottery Lesson And A Hike Up Mount Etna


On a gorgeous morning following a good sleep after last nights cooking lesson I woke up at about 6 am and stepped out on the balcony of my hotel room. The sun was just coming up, and the sky was filled with shades of purple and pink. Far away I could see the outline of a strip of land: the Italian mainland, more precisely the Region of Calabria, was visible on this clear day for the first time. The aerial distance between Taormina and the southern tip of Italy is about 40 kilometres, and this sunrise view across the Ionian Sea was simply gorgeous.

I decided to get up early and take a stroll through beautiful Taormina, before the hustle and bustle of the day would kick in. My hotel, Hotel Villa Nettuno, is located on the north side of town on Via Pirandello, outside of the citys gates. I really enjoyed the location since it was quieter and yet just steps away from the amazingly busy Corso Humberto, Taorminas main street in a pedestrian area.

Having strolled through the northeastern Porta di Messina I reached a still quiet piazza in front of the Palazzo Corvaja, seat of the first Sicilian Parliament and today the location of Taorminas tourist office. A few of the locals were already up, taxi drivers were getting ready for their first fares, while the pedestrian street of Corso Humberto was still almost completely devoid of people. I reached Taorminas main square: Piazza IX Aprile which features a large panoramic terrace facing the Mediterranean and Mount Etna. Two churches, San Giorgio and San Giuseppe, adorn this square, and the famous Torre dell Orologio (clock tower), featuring the Porta di Mezzo gate, and the famous Wnderbar Caf anchor this public space on its western side. I could even see most of the volcano today on this relatively clear day. There are not many views that compare with the beautiful vista that spread out in front of me from this lookout point.

My walk on the Corso Umberto continued to the western edge of town where I passed through the Porta di Catania, the western city gate featuring the coat of arms of the Municipality of Taormina. From there I walked to a small park which features another beautiful lookout point that faces straight towards Mount Etna. After absorbing this gorgeous picture and trying to burn it permanently into my retina I started to make my way back, this time along the Via Roma, the picturesque road on the southern edge of town high above the coastline of the Ionian Sea. No wonder Taormina is such a popular tourist destination, the physical beauty of this town and the surrounding area is stunning.

Well, after this hour long walk I definitely deserved my breakfast and reviewed a bit of Italian grammar on the gorgeous terrace of the Hotel Villa Nettuno before I made my way to the Babilonia Language School. Punctually at 9:30 our lesson started and our grammar teacher Carlo familiarized us with the preposizioni semplici the contracted Italian prepositions that are formed from a combination of the actual preposition together with the article. Prepositions are always complicated topics in any language, and Carlo patiently and succinctly explained to us the usage of in or per to express time in different contexts. We continued with a variety of games to help us remember the use of Italian prepositions, a fun and effective way to learn and retain complicated linguistic concepts.

Just before noon I had an opportunity to complete another interview: Alessandro, Babilonias director, connected me with Donatella Rapisardi, a local Taormina based artist, who provides some of the Pottery Decorating Classes for Babilonia students. For millennia, Sicily has been at the confluence of cultures: the Phonecians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Swebians, Spanish and French have all left their imprint in this culturally rich area, and pottery has been an important craft in Sicily for many centuries.

I met Donatella at the local Hotel del Corso, right on Corso Umberto, where she offers pottery decorating classes on the rooftop terrace with a perfect view of the Palazzo del Duca Santo Stefano with Mount Etna as a backdrop. The weather was gorgeous, the sky was blue: I cannot imagine a more scenic location for pottery painting than Donatellas rooftop retreat.

Donatella Rapisardi is a gifted local artists who works in a variety of media. She also heads an organization called the Grupo Artistico de Perseo which organizes various exhibitions and art projects throughout town and the entire region. The group consists of five permanent artist members and a number of other affiliated artists that are coordinated by Donatella and her team. In addition to ceramics, Donatella also creates mosaics using marble and different types of stone) and handles wood restoration.

She explained that the pottery decorating lesson starts with plain terracotta pieces such as vases or tiles on which students apply the design they wish to paint. Two different types of processes are used for pottery painting, Donatella explained in her machine gun Italian: lavorare a freddo means that the pieces are painted without firing them, and lavorare a caldo refers to painted pottery pieces that are fired in a kiln to preserve the painting.

Traditional Sicilian colours such as blue, yellow and green are often used in the ceramics decorating process, although the students are completely free to create their own design and colour choices. Donatella guides them, makes suggestions and gives the students advice when they need it. She also explained that the tiles offer an advantage since they are easy to handle and transport and they offer a great surface for landscape images.

The course includes three lessons per week, and is particularly popular with Babilonia language students from Japan and the United States. Donatella added that Japanese students in particular are extremely precise and detail-oriented and very gifted when it comes to applying decorative painting to pottery. This may have something today with their exposure to the popular Japanese tradition of calligraphy.

Often Donatellas students become her friends and she invites them into her home and does a culinary exchange: Donatella will create a variety of Sicilian specialties while her students prepare various tasty treats from their home country. She indicated that to this day she receives emails from some of her Japanese students from years ago, and she enjoys it every time when she receives international correspondence from her previous students.

After having lived in Umbria, another beautiful region of Italy, Donatella moved back to Taormina several years ago which she really enjoys and which inspires her creativity. She also teaches childrens art courses and volunteers for some local schools. She showed me a couple of pieces that had been completed by students and three of her own works of art. I mentioned I would have loved to see her studio to see more of her own art. Maybe next time.

Following this interesting side trip another excursion was waiting for me: punctually at 2:30 pm eleven people were assembled in front of the Babilonia Language School, ready to go hiking on Mount Etna whose summit is located at an altitude of over 3200 m. Peppe Celano, Babilonias social activities coordinator and one of the language teachers, was ready to introduce us first-hand to Sicilys highest mountain and an active volcano.

As a matter of fact, Mount Etna had just erupted a few days ago on April 30, but unfortunately I did not see it. The eruption was only a few hours long, and one of my co-students saw the red lava stream at night! So today we would see Europes largest volcano up close.

Peppe had rented a small van and a small passenger car to carry all the participants. Our drive to the parking lot on the southern flanks of Mount Etna took about an hour and twenty minutes. We drove through local towns such as Giarre and Zafferana Etna where Peppe explained that near this area the Arabs used to cultivate saffron, hence the name.

The day was overcast and rather cool, a windproof jacket and a nice sweater were definitely in order. We parked our vehicles on a rather isolated parking lot and got ready for our climb. The lower part of our climb took us through a forested area where the leafs were just starting to come out. Not surprisingly, at almost 2000 m of altitude, the plant growing cycle is a little slower, even on a subtropical island such as Sicily.

Peppe explained that the local fauna includes chestnut, oak and birch trees which have all existed here since before the last ice age. We walked single file along a steep narrow path that was punctuated with many roots and stones, right along a precipice with many lookouts towards the famous Valle del Bove (Valley of the Ox), site of layers upon layers of lava flows.

Our steep hike continued for about an hour and took us from 2000 m in altitude to 2400 m to an area with a perfect view, facing the recent lava flows in the Valle del Bove. The summit area of the volcano stretched out right in front of us. Our area was a side summit designated by a cross and a broad natural ledge that our group used as a perfect posing area for our group shots of our conquest of Mount Etna. We spent about half an hour at the top of this side summit, chatting, snapping pictures and generally enjoying our mountain adventure.

On the way down three ladies, one from Switzerland, one from Germany and one from Austria (me) raced down the mountain in about 20 minutes. Coming down was a heck of a lot easier than going up, and almost sprinting down this steep mountainous pathway was rather exhilarating in itself. Once all the other mountaineers arrived we set off to visit a local winery. The Murgo vineyards were just about 15 minutes away, located in the fertile foothills of Mount Etna and many people in our group bought red, white and sparkling wines. An animated discussion followed in the van and by 7 pm we had arrived back in the school.

After a brief refreshment back at the hotel, a group of us met at a local pizzeria called Trocadero, right next to the Porta di Messina, where we were going to have a nice dinner. For some of us this Thursday evening was our last night in Taormina; I was going to leave tomorrow night to go to Milazzo while another person was going on an excursion to the Eolian Islands. Most of our group members were leaving Taormina this weekend, and we were all commenting how much we have been enjoying our experience.

Everyone around the table was a German speaker: we had three folks from Germany, two from Switzerland and myself, originally from Austria. Given the linguistic differences throughout the German-speaking countries, we all mentioned that each one of us has to speak Hochdeutsch (Standard German) in order to be understood by the rest of the group. All of us speak fairly strong dialects that would essentially be incomprehensible to German-speakers from other regions, so we get by, speaking the standard version of our language. For me this exposure to other Europeans was really enjoyable. Having lived more than 20 years in Canada, I hardly ever come in contact with German speakers, so this experience of enjoying a nice meal, speaking in my mother tongue, was a definite treat.

By 9:30 pm I started to get really tired since I had already gone on a one-hour walk through Taormina before breakfast, followed by another walk through town to meet Donatella, the pottery decoration artist, capped off by a short yet strenuous hike up Mount Etna. And tomorrow was after all going to be my last day in Taormina, so it was time to rest.

One thing is for sure, when you come to Taormina for language studies you definitely dont get bored.

Susanne Pacher is the publisher of

, a web portal for unconventional travel & cross-cultural connections. Check out our brand new

FREE ebooks about travel.Article Source: Hello From Sicily Italian Studies, A Pottery Lesson And A Hike Up Mount Etna}

The Top 10 Workplace Safety Myths}

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Submitted by: Luciana Muratori

The Top 10 Workplace Safety Myths

There are several articles online listing Workplace Safety Myths, so I decided to do a research and publish the best 10 myths I found.

From the most important one, down to the funniest one, the top 10 Workplace Safety Myths are:

Myth # 1: Safety is just common sense

No organisation should rely on workers to use common sense. There must be an effective risk management policy in place. There is a myth about common sense, which fails to understand that one persons instinct might differ greatly from anothers. This is particularly true if they are a young or inexperienced worker.

Good sense is acquired through knowledge and experience. Thats why safety inductions, toolbox talks, and good communication between workers and line supervisors are all vital ingredients for making workplaces safe.

Myth # 2: It will never happen here.

The truth is that workplace accidents or violence can happen in any business, at anytime, and anywhere. And, they do.

Myth # 3: Workplace Violence is Random and Unpredictable

Violence can be random and unpredictable in some cases. However, there are several cases when a pattern of behaviour begins to emerge. A lot of times people ignore warning signs until it is too late. In 80% of all incidents of workplace violence, the are warning signs that went unheeded.

Awareness heads the list and is the easiest and most successful means for surviving a workplace violence attack. Early awareness and action can save property, lives, and money.

Verbal threats of violence are a real warning sign. Verbal threats of violence should not be ignored or played down as just talk.

Myth # 4: Risk assessment is too complicated

Carrying out a risk assessment should be straightforward. Its about focusing on real risks and hazards that cause real harm and, more importantly, taking action to control them.

Myth # 5: Musculoskeletal injuries are inevitable with manual labour.

Workplaces with hazardous manual tasks have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workers. The risks of injury associated with hazardous manual tasks must be controlled.

Advances in technology means there are many practical options to assist employers to control the risk of injury.

Myth #6: Workplace health and safety systems are rigid and stop us getting real work done.

The mention of workplace health and safety is sometimes met with cynicism. However, its not about slowing productivity, but rather finding safer, smarter, more cost effective ways of getting work done.

Myth # 7: Myth: Every possible risk needs a safety sign

Using too many signs just guarantees no one will read any of them.

Safety signs are useful when theres a significant risk which cant be avoided or controlled in any other way. But that doesnt mean you should add a sign for every possible risk, however trivial.

Where there are serious risks in your workplace, dont just rely on signs take practical steps to deal with them. If you do need a sign, make sure it has the right symbol and is clearly visible.

Myth # 8: PPE will keep everyone safe.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) helps to keep workers safe, but the employees must be trained on how to use them. In several cases, PPE equipment is there as a last line of defence, you dont want them to be really required to do any work.

Workplaces should implement engineering controls, such as machine guards to protect fingers from sharp moving devices. Rotating tasks to avoid repetitive motion injuries is also a way to avoid injuries (and boredom!).

MYTH #9: Some people are just accident prone

Some people are clumsier or more absent-minded than others, it is true. But they cant take all the blame. Good management means looking out for these people. In an organisation, if somebody is having a high level of small accidents at work, something might be wrong. It is the supervisor/manager duty to identify the problem and find out the reason why this particular employee is having so many accidents. Is he getting enough sleep? Does he have any personal problems? Is he depressed? Drinking? Or is there another reason?

Myth # 10: Flip flops are banned from the workplace

Finally, the last myth and this is a funny one. I found it on many websites from the US and I thought it was a great myth to end this article.

How did this myth start?

Apparently, sometime in 2007, bosses at Oldham Council (US) banned staff from wearing flip-flops and sandals to work, citing health and safety. They feared people who wear the flimsy footwear are more likely to trip and injure themselves.There was another widely reported ban in 2013 for staff working at Plymouth City Council (also in the US). it is noteworthy to mention that the reason for the ban was to remind workers to dress appropriately for a working environment. The later report stirred up the flip-flop ban myth again with members of the public citing health and safety reasons for the ban.

Research and information for this post was obtained from the following websites:

WorkSafe Queensland

Safety ED

Stay Legal


The Safety Brief

About the Author: Luciana Muratori is a safety expert and the owner of Shop For Safety. Shop For safety is an online store that sells good quality safety products in Australia and overseas.


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Melbourne Airport Parking}

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

Melbourne Airport Parking


Kael Sablaya

Parking Your Car in an Airport?

Know the Top 5 Secrets of the Savvy Melbourne Traveler

Nothing dampens the excitement of traveling to a new adventure locally or abroad than having to circle around the airport looking for an empty parking slot that is affordable, safe and with perks for long term travelers. Say goodbye to the stress, frustration and irritation that goes with parking on airports. Know the top five secrets used by savvy Melbourne travelers and never look at airport parking the same way again.

Secret #1

Have a reservation

Having the peace of mind that a parking slot is waiting just for you takes loads off of your worries in airport parking

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. Melbourne airports are of the busiest in Australia and with that traffic comes hundreds of car owners vying for that one sweet parking spot. With a reservation, you do not have to rely on sheer luck in getting that elusive slot.

Secret #2

Choose the best price

Airport parking

is a competitive industry, which means more price options for you. The secret is finding the right company with the right location, package and price range for you. Whether you have a car, truck or caravan, airport parking companies will provide the expert care that you and your car deserve.

Secret #3

Pick one-stop shop solutions

Airport parking is one thing but for the perfect travel experience, streamlined and seamless airport solutions are your best option. Once you have taken out your luggage and parked your car, what is next? Will a shuttle take you to the terminals? Once you have landed in your destination airport, is there a shuttle to bring you to your hotel or a car that you can drive on your own? One-stop shop solutions arrange everything for you, all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the trip.

Secret #4

Make the most out the idle time

For the truly savvy driver and traveler, the time that a car parked in the airport does not have to be idle time. Car cleaning, detailing and servicing from oil change to full inspections are usually the culprit in robbing you of your time. With airport parking, these car services are available right at your fingertips, even if you are miles away. If you want to come back from travel to your parked car that is cleaner and serviced then airport parking services is the way to go!

Secret #5

Get repairs

Want an even better use of your car’s parking time, then car repair is another great option. If you keep putting off repairs of everything in your car from the upholstery, radiator, panels, windscreens to the engine, then airport parking car repair services are the answer. Get the repairs you have always wanted done without you spending a second waiting for it. When you are back from your trip, your fully repaired car is right there waiting for you.

The Runway Airport Parking Team is dedicated to looking after your car, truck or caravan, while you are away. They offer free shuttles to and from Melbourne Airport in new Mercedes Benz Valente vans, to ensure you arrive in style. Runway Airport Parking is confident in offering the best value airport parking at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.

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