Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky. It is almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream.
As I promised in earlier blog posts, here follows my post about the breathtaking experience I had when I reached Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy! Etna is an active volcano on the east coast, close to cities like Messina and Catania. It lies between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate, hence why it's a volcano. It is the tallest active volcano on the European continent, currently standing 3 329 meters high! Follow me on my Sunset Tour to the one of a kind Mount Etna!
I had known from the moment we booked our trip to Sicily that I wanted to visit Mount Etna. I didn't know until we reached Sicily that there were so many different types of tours to the volcano. There were e.g. hiking tours, morning tours and day tours, but immediately when we heard about a sunset tour, we knew that that was the one we wanted to take! It sounded so unique and romantic - ideal for me and my boy!
This was an international tour with participants from all over Europe, I liked that. Our guide, however, was Italian, even though he spoke English fluently. The tour was organized by Noema Viaggi. On the way up from Giardini Naxos, where we were staying, to Mount Etna, we passed by several small villages like Giarre and Zafferana Etnea, where we actually witnessed a wedding. In these villages you could see and sense the respect these places have for Mount Etna; as it gives a lot but also takes a lot in return. Even though Mt. Etna is extremely active, the locals surprisingly see the volcano more as a blessing than a danger. The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture, with vineyards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain.
As we continued rising, we saw the most extraordinary natural scenes I've seen: green hills followed with black rocky soil, ash and lava. Etna, also called Sicily's Mountain of Fire, is truly one of the most unique places I've ever visited. Rising up on the mountain, it's almost a spiritual experience where one truly understands how small a human is when it encounters natural phenomenon like volcanoes.
Once we had reached 2 000 meters it was time to get off our tour bus. We found it was quite cool up on the mountain, about 10 degrees when we had been enjoying about 30 degrees down in Giardini Naxos. The view from 2 000 meters was astonishing: we saw all of Catania beneath us! The craters made us feel so small. Catania, which is a city equally big as Helsinki according to inhabitants, was beautiful from above!
The verdant splendor and fertility really surprised me! Volcanic rocks make some of the best soils on earth because they not only have a wide variety of common elements the rock and are readily chemically separated into elemental components. Actually, our guide told us that if we would water a stone, a plant would immediately start to grow from it, how cool is that?
Next to this impressing volcanic stone house, we had the immense pleasure of witnessing the amazing sunset. It was truly beautiful, as the whole sky changed color as the sun set. Our guide told us that with a clear sky, one could see 'til Palermo from Mount Etna. Even though it was one of the most rapid sunsets I've seen (the sun set about half an hour after it started to descend), it was for sure one I'll remember for the rest of my life! The surrounding was stunningly beautiful as we found ourselves almost alone with our group on Mount Etna. The landscape was impressing due to its size and one could only amaze at its beauty.
Here ends my travel blog posts concerning the first half of my summer holiday this year. Let's see what I'll come up with for the second half that starts in less than a week!
Have you ever visited a volcano? Do you enjoy watching sunsets? Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets?