We had a VERY adventurous day – a visit to the volcano, Mount Etna. In fact, our day was so action-packed that I am breaking the blog into three parts. We have so much to say and so many pictures. We will all remember this day forever.
Off Road Tour
We got picked up in our own off-road SUV and whisked off toward the volcano. Mount Etna can be seen all over eastern Sicily, with smoke billowing out of the top. It erupts about once a month, but our guide told us that the lava moves pretty slowly so people in its path have a chance to escape and even rescue their belongings. And we were going to see the lava up close.
But first we had to get there. There are regular tours on regular roads, but we are not regular people. Our guide turned off and we were suddenly on what appeared to be a wide path with huge ruts and lava stones scattered around. We bumped and careened around sharp curves before finally seeing the remnants of black lava up close.
We started on a lower level – about 1500 feet – where we could get a good view of the lava field. We hiked up, picking our way through slippery lava stones, to reach a vista where our guide pointed out which lava fields had been from recent months – including June. We even saw a house where the lava piled up right under their windows. It was beautiful and a little awe-inspiring.
Hike at 6,000 Feet
Next, we drove up to 6000 feet for a more serious hike. The scenery really was amazing, with bright green plants and trees, surrounded by black lava fields, sometimes that had literally made a circle around a copse of trees.
As we walked on the pretty easy path, we spied tiny people up on a mountain. Our guide nodded and said this was our destination. (We almost lost a couple of our travel party at this point, but I’m proud to say everyone rallied.)
We kept at it and soon were climbing almost straight up. Even the kids kept up. At the top, we had amazing views and just rested and spent a few moments taking it all in.
The guide showed us lava rock of different ages, so we could start to recognize what we were seeing and determine if it was from a recent eruption or farther int he past. What a great experience.
We ended our morning at a rifugio, which is a rustic restaurant mainly for hikers. We ordered cafe and hot chocolate while we admired the view and regained our energy for Part II.
Next Up: Part II – Rapelling into a cave!