For the very first time, I was about to step into one of Europe most active volcanos, Mount Etna, located in Catania, Sicily. I was standing at the entrance of the crater known as “Crateri Silvestri”.
According to Wikipedia, Mount Etna is the tallest active volcano on the European Continent, currently, 3,329m (10,922 ft) high, though this varies with summit eruptions. The ground was fertile with small rocks and black ashes. The weather was chilling. I put on my jacket and good walking shoes to explore further. I was lucky that the dark clouds did not appear.
The first sight to greet me was the steep slope.
The contours around it make me curious to discover the unknown. I suspected the round hole beneath was caused by the last eruption in mid Aug 2014, as reported by Daily Mail, a news publication in United Kingdom.
I decided to venture ahead. Despite the low visibility, I managed to capture a shot, using my point-and-shoot camera. It might not be clear as the air was misty. From the front and far end, there was a blanket of white foam.
So, I picked up the pieces, realizing that that was snow, covered in black ashes.
The texture was soft and smooth, running through my fingers like fine salt. The snow was not thick. Looked like the volcanic activity had been recent and temperature was cooling.
I think it could be due to the solidification process after hot lava flowed through the surrounding terrain. At least, the eruption was not as bad as Iceland’s Eyjafjallajoekull where the ash clouds halted the air traffic in Europe. Leisure and corporate travellers were grounded at airports. I could not imagine if Catania was hit by such magnitude.
I paused for a minute and started to examine the volcanic rocks. My geography teacher used to tell me about the formation of the rocks. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not recall the process!
For my readers who would like to know more, you could find short descriptions and images here.
I made my way around the crater. The wind and mist was blowing in my direction. At some point, I had to turn my head away. Everything was in a blur. Nonetheless, I trotted up and looked around. On my far left, there was a group of people walking. On my far right, it was emptiness.
I had to continue. It’s a new experience for me at Mount Etna.
The vegetation added some colour.
Just by witnessing the amazing spectacle around the crater left me speechless. If you had the chance to visit Catania, insert Mount Etna into your travel plans. For you never get an opportunity to stand in Mother’s Nature creation. Your day could start in the morning with lunch at a nearby restaurant. It’s within walking distance. Usually, you could buy pizzas, sandwiches, tea, coffee or beer. Souvenirs are sold in the restaurant too.
I did not went back empty-handed. I bought “Fichero”, the only hot-blooded liquor that’s available right in Sicily. It’s said to mimic the lava in Mount Etna. Being ambitious, I bought two small bottles, thinking what any alpha male did. After all, what’s this as compared to Absolut Vodka.
Oh my! I was wrong because the red liquid was really burning in my throat and I had to down one big bottle of cold mineral water to soothe myself.
That was the final challenge for myself.
Don’t forget bottles of “Fichero”. Your friends might just love you. Completely unaware.