Welcome To Mt. Etna!
Alex and I are excited to welcome you to the top of Mt. Etna!
This living, breathing volcano sits on the incredible island of Sicily – a part of Italy we had never had the chance to visit – until now!
We were excited to explore Sicily – especially because of Mt. Etna!
This was the first time we saw it, rising above the mountain town of Taormina – but little did we know that thanks to an amazing tour guide, we’d be climbing it!
As you can see, that’s an active volcano smoldering above Sicily – and there is a very rough road that is used by Scientists to drive toward the top of the volcano in order to monitor the mountain’s activity – and we got to go along with them!
Mt. Etna is the most active volcano in Europe, almost 11,000 feet high. And it continues to grow!
Time to head up the mountain!
Our tour guide Giocomo drove us to the tourist area halfway up the mountain – where we jumped on the mighty “Torsus” all-terrain vehicle, along with a few others who had also arranged for this special tour.
The roads were carved out of dried lava and volcanic ash, so it’s a very rough ride as you slowly wind up the mountain – and the lava is piled along the side of the road all around you:
Because this is an active volcano, there is evidence of previous eruptions everywhere…you can see exactly where the lava cut through the forests on the mountain…
As the mountain looms above, you can see the evidence of fresh lava flows as well – and there continues to be ongoing seismic activity every day…
Along with taking out a strip of forest, the mountain also destroyed a hotel and ski resort twenty years ago, but the ski lift is still operational!
Those are the lifts that still take skiers up in winter…
Yes, for a few short months, the mountain has enough snow to ski down it!
Finally, the road ends and you are deposited at a scientific outpost – from here you hike!
As you can see, there is a long ridge that you climb in order to stand literally across from the active volcano…those aren’t clouds, that is steam from the volcano itself…here’s a video that gives you an idea of how close we were:
Standing on the ridge looking over at the volcano, you get a real sense of the power of this volcano: we are standing in dried lava, and you can see lava paths down the mountain as well…
Alex’s Gucci Bag!
I shared a picture on Instagram the day we hiked, and someone made a crack about Alex’s bag, so here’s the story: we were transferring hotels on the day of our hike, and while the area down below is safe, our Guide thought it best if Alex not leave her bag in the car unattended for 5+ hours, so she gamely carried it on the entire hike!
The best part of this trip was our guide Giocomo, who had so much incredible knowledge and insight – and he was a blast to spend the day with as well!
There was quite a bit of hiking that day – my watch counted 14,771 steps over 6.1 miles and most important – 189 flights climbed!
We got to hike around a wide area, always with Mt. Etna’s active crater just across from us…
Giocomo told us that the peak on the left is newly forming, as the volcano continues to slowly push upward – and soon will be the highest point on the mountain!
As you reach the edge of the ridge, you can see back down to the remains of the destroyed hotel below – and a clear path the lava took through the area…
Much smaller buildings have popped up, and that is where we left our car….oh, and one aspect of this hike worth noting – you are hiking through lava and ash, so you sink into it as you move!
One interesting aspect of these lava fields – new growth has already begun, and you can see it all around you…
There are also remnants of previous active volcano spots, and as part of the hike, we got to see them up close…
There are craters all the way down the mountain, remains of previous eruptions – and here’s how close we got to one:
We spent hours exploring Mt. Etna, and it was fascinating….I’ve already shared our adventures at the bottom of the mountain before – when Giocomo took us inside a lava cave:
Giocomo told us how the lava can form air pockets as it cools over time – allowing us to go inside a cave made completely of lava!
See more of our subterranean tour here:
I will be sharing the story of our delicious wine tasting and lunch at Planeta – a great Sicilian winery!
I also shared this story about rock diving into the waters off of Sicily:
Yes, this was a favorite spot to jump into the Ionian Sea, and I got video of it!
Click here to see the video and more:
I also shared the story of Sicily’s “part time island!”
That’s right: it’s an island at high tide only!
Click here for some video of this terrific “part time” island!
The other Italian island we visited was Sardinia, where we discovered something really cool:
James Bond stayed here!
We discovered our Hotel was used by 007 – and you can see how and why by clicking on my story here:
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Let me know your favorite part of Mt. Etna!