TRAVELS

CHAPTER 3 – Etna, Sicily, Italy

I do not envy God’s paradise because I am so satisfied to live in Sicily.
Federico II, Holy Roman Emperor, and King of Sicily

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There’s nothing better than staring at nature and her babies. Whatever she has given birth to immediately sucks me in and makes my eyeballs fixed on it. Etna was no exception even though I didn’t get to the top. The craters and the volcano itself were a treat and I can still see that beautiful view in front of my eyes.


Mount Etna (Latin Aetna / Sicilian Mongibello). The name comes from Aitne (Greek), from aithō meaning “I burn”
(Britannica)


Etna, an over 3300 m high stratovolcano, is an indissoluble part of Sicily’s landscape creating a breath-taking view from the plane while flying over Sicily on a sunny, cloudless day. It is the highest volcano in Europe and its state of activity is nearly always continuous, thus making it a great case to study. In 2013 it was put on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and its amazingly fertile volcanic soils contribute to agriculture in the area around the volcano.

Etna in Greek mythology

Etna obviously could not have been left out when it comes to mythology, and there are a few myths that I’ve found interesting. It’s mythology, right? Who doesn’t like mythology?!

The first one concerns Hephaestus and his Forge and it says that one day, after an argument with Jupiter, Hephaestus was thrown out of Mt. Olympus. He then fell on an island and the impact of the fall was so huge that he made a deep hole in a high mountain – Etna. Hephaestus came to a decision to make that mountain his blacksmith forge. And that is the reason why Etna explodes with sparks of fire.

The second myth is about a giant called Tipheus who was severly punished by Jupiter for having challenged him. Jupiter tied his feet and arms to different parts of Sicily and made him support Mt. Etna with his head. According to this myth, Etna’s gurgling and spitting fire is nothing else as Tipheus being angry.

Getting to Etna

If you’re in Catania and you’re not renting a car (which would be a total diaster given the traffic there), there’s only one way to get to Etna – by an AST bus that goes there once a day at around 8 a.m. The bus can be found in the area in front of the train station on Piazza Giovanni XXII. You can buy tickets (a return ticket costs 6,60 Euro) from the driver but it’s better to do that beforehand. The bus leaves to Catania at 4.30 p.m. so you need to watch the time. On the way to Etna, the bus driver makes a 20-minute stop in a small town called Nicolosi. The road is mostly narrow and if you take the bus, you may feel like you’re going to die every 15 seconds of the ride, but the driver seems to know what he’s doing and he drives there every day so I suppose it’s all good. I just want to warn you so you’re not as shocked as I was 😉
BTW – on your way back to Catania when you’re already in town, don’t be surprised by the way people drive there, it’s no use trying. In Catania there seems to be only one driving rule – there are no rules!
So, buckle up and await the end of the journey 😉

When planning to go to Etna, make sure you have appropriate shoes, clothes (something warmer), some snacks and water. You can walk around by yourself or you can purchase one of the organised trips with the price range 59-1200 Euro:
– Etna Jeep Tour
– Etna Emotion 3000 Tour (with a cable car)
– Etna Summit Trekking
– Etna Wine Tour
– Etna Helicopter Tour

After a few hours, the weather got worse and all there was left was fog and clouds later followed by rain. I’m glad we had got there before that happened.

Before or after you have set off on an Etna adventure you can buy some souvenirs, postcards, local food and eat in one of the restaurants that are out there. Never fear, they’ve got you covered!

The view of the parking lot and some of the restaurants

The trip to Etna is definitely worth recommending and if you only have a chance, do it! Trust me 🙂

See you on the other pages,

K.

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