Day 377: Mount EtnaFebruary 26 in Italy
Up and out early again! Today was our last full day on Sicily and in Italy, and we were going to use it to conquer Mount Etna - the largest active volcano in Europe! Our Airbnb host had recommended a local guide who we'd chosen to go with, so he (Dario) picked us up at 9am out the front along with his assistant Basilico. In a funny coincidence, Basilico was from Bronte, the same village my sister's in-laws hail from, just on the other side of the mountain! Small world, though I don't think he knew them.
We set off in Dario's 4WD and headed straight up for the base station of the cable car, since this is where most tours start. Unfortunately, there was basically a blizzard up at this altitude - howling winds and driving snow, so we couldn't really see anywhere. We briefly explored a large crater nearby (Etna is actually pock-marked with 2000+ craters and volcanic mounds), but the snow and wind made it too difficult to do anything realistic here. It was the kind of wind where you could comfortably lean into it, well past your balancing point, and feel very confident you weren't going to fall!
So we hopped back in the car and descended, driving around various parts of the lower slopes. We got to see some lava valleys, forests, a few more craters and other various bits and pieces.
Dario had OK English and Basilico was pretty fluent, so we had some good chats and a few laughs - they were quite entertaining! Stopped briefly at a store selling "local products" but thankfully no pressure to buy anything which was nice. The wines were quite good but since we were getting a flight the next day we didn't end up buying.
Did about 45 minutes of hiking up a lava field which was quite interesting, though unfortunately we weren't able to see the summit crater since it was shrouded in heavy clouds - the same ones that had battered us earlier in the day.
Eventually it was time to head back down, and we were back at our apartment around 3pm. Quite hungry since we hadn't had lunch (only a few snacks and fruit), we walked over to the main piazza 10 minutes away and had some arancini - delicious as always.
Retreated home and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening there, though I ventured out for a takeaway pizza later in the evening. Not a bad way to complete our two months in Italy!Read more