When the Sicilians speak of Mt Etna it is always as a woman. She is hot, temperamental, gives life but also kills. They definitely respect her. It is hard not to when from every corner we went to you could see her in the distance smoking. As we climbed the mountainous side in a off road Jeep you could tell this was going to be something unique.
We booked this tour through Etna Moving and choose the half day tour. Our guide, Fabrizio, was like a REI model with an accent. He pulled out maps and drew in the dirt explaining the eruptions from 1991 and 2011. The two fun facts I have to share are when the lava flows it can divert around large elevated rocks. It makes an oasis or dagala from the Greeks. The lava flows around these dagalas and a desert forms around called a sciara. The difference between these two on the volcano side is amazing to look at.
From there we took this narrow bumpy road to a cave. We all jump out of the car, get fitted with helmets with lights and head down. This is not what you would consider athletic in the slightest but it was cool. We climbed down some rocks, turned on our lights and crawled into the cave. We inched our way towards a large hole, apparently you can actually scale down it. No thank you.
After all this hard work it was time for lunch. Fabrizio stopped in town before we started up the volcano and grabbed fresh bread while we got espresso. My hero. We pull over on the side by this fence with a sign in big Italian words which we assume means no trespassing. “It is no problem” he says and we climb over and walk down a little hill. Here we find a gorgeous wooden table and the most beautiful view. Fabrizio sets the table as we ohh and awww.
Full of wine, cheese, olives and bread we hike up this small incline finding ourselves out of breath.Fabrizio says its the altitude I think we are just out of shape. We climb back down the mountain and head back to Catania impressed of this natural giant living in the distance.
Since we had the rest of the afternoon to ourselves we decided to walk around Catania. Naturally we found large churches looming over restaurants and shops. The biggest surprise was all the elephants. Considering this is an island I really don’t understand the obsession with elephants but I’ll take it.
At dinner that night we were serenaded by a man with a mobile speaker unit in a suit while we downed 16 euro bottle wine and all the carbs you can image. Naturally this was followed by more wine and cigars. Damn Sicily… you do it right.