Many years ago, I visited Lipari, one of the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily. It’s a lovely place, except that for a day or so while I was there, the sirocco blew. This is a hot wind that comes up from the Sahara Desert carrying on it tiny grains of sand. They must rub together to form an electric charge. Certainly the combination of heat, grit and positive ions is thoroughly unpleasant.
There’s a very good archaeological museum on Lipari, with lots of objects such as amphorae recovered from ancient shipwrecks, but what I particularly remember were the Neolithic remains from the region, in almost perfect condition, because they are buried under layer upon layer of fine Sahara sand. Because the sirocco blows so regularly every year, they can estimate their age from the depth of the sand they are deposited in.
At the moment, I am on holiday in the Rhône Valley in France and I’ve just been introduced to another famous wind: the Mistral. Continue reading