Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mount Etna

Mt. Etna is the tallest active volcano in all of Europe standing almost 11,000 feet (3,330 meters) high and is in an almost constant state of activity. It has already erupted seven times in 2012!
Taken from world-and-local-news.com from April 23, 2012
Taken from wordlesstech.com from March 4, 2012
Taken from topnews.net.nz from July 30, 2011
Taken from photoblog.msnbc.msn.com from Jan. 13, 2011
Naturally, Jon and I decided to check out this beast for ourselves. The recent eruptions have been limited to the Summit craters on the north side of the volcano. Since the volcano has a base circumference of 140km (~87 miles) there are many different hiking paths that individuals can take that are out of harms way if Etna were to erupt. It is illegal to go past a certain point on the volcano, even with a guide, so we were pretty confident that all would be okay. We enlisted the help of Etna Experience to take us on a hike through some parts of the volcano, give us some history and information about Etna, and show us other Etna related things such as lava caves and rivers.
Jon took this picture of Etna in December.
We started with a nice two hour hike from the viewpoint of Bove Valley. It was almost as if we were hiking on sand with the ash under our feet. Our guide told us about the different plant life that exists because of the volcanic soil on Etna, different rocks and boulders that have been spit out by Etna, and the difference between the many types of ash and pumice that have fallen like rain onto the mountain and towns.

Next, we were taken to a cave that has been grooved out by flowing lava. We fastened our helmets and held tightly onto our flashlights as we descended down the steep entrance to the cave.

The entrance.
Tight squeeze!

Emerging from the depths of the Earth... mwahaha.
Lunch was next and we were in for a treat! We had no idea that lunch would be at Gambino winery, a winery that we visited in December and just last week on our own. Needless to say, we were more than thrilled to hear we would be sampling their delicious tomatoes, mushrooms, cheeses, meats, and of course wine. It was great to get to know the other members that were on our excursion (one couple from Germany, one from Holland, and one from France) as we talked about our lives over delicious cuisine.
View from lunch.
The last stop of our program included a visit to the Alcantara Gorges. Several thousand years ago the high walls on either side of the river were created once the lava flow that flooded the frozen river cooled down. It then crystallized in the form of columns. An earthquake caused a gash in the lava which allowed the river to form in the gorge.

After some fresh squeezed orange juice it was time for our trip to end. We're glad that we were able to visit this monster of a volcano and were thankful that it didn't erupt on our watch!

Sabato, siamo andati sul m. Etna per un'escursione. Dovevamo andare domenica scorsa, ma il traghetto era in ritardo e il gruppo e' uscito senza noi. Per due ore abbiamo fatto il hike intorno al lato nord dell'Etna. Abbiamo visti tanti crateri piccoli, piante, cenere, e rocce laviche. Dopo il hike siamo andati a una cava di pietra lavica. Era buia e fredda con neve ancora sul pavimento! Poi ci hanno portato alla cantina e abbiamo assaggiato quattro vini e abbiamo mangiato il pranzo. Dopo siamo andati a un fiume tra mura di lava. L'acqua era molto fredda, ma abbiamo dovuto andare nell'acqua! E' stato un giorno divertente!


  1. Now that's one scary volcano!! It's hard to believe when looking at the pictures of the volcano that it can go from being so beautiful, calm, and peaceful, to something so frightening!! You would never think that this could possibly happen!! The picture of the volcano erupting showing the intense fire and smoke, is incredible!! It sounds like you guys had an amazing time, exploring, hiking, learning about the volcano and most important, actually seeing it!! (thank goodness in it's peaceful state!!)

  2. Ciao Cheryl!
    I am organizing my summer vacation and I stumbled upon your blog :) What a great adventure! I was wondering if you could disclose the name of the company that run this tour on m. Etna, it looks amazing! I would also like to know the name of the hotel where you stayed at the Aeolian Islands :)

    Buon divertimento in Italia!!

    1. Ciao Erika! The company we used for Mt. Etna is called Etna Experiences. www.etnaexperience.com. The hotel in the Aeolian Islands is Hotel Mea in Lipari. I don't think they have a website, but we booked it through www.booking.com.

      Il tuo blog sembra incredibile! Spero imparare a cucinare ricette nuove! Mi dispiace per il mio italiano... e non buono, ma mi piace pratticare cosi posso migliorare :)