Mount Etna and Taormina

The closest neighbor to the Maltese Islands is Sicily. In 2015 we spent a few weeks in Palermo and Elizabeth Briel's Artist's and Writer's Studio in Cianciana. We then also explored the South and Agrigento, but skipped the island's East and Mount Etna. This is why I took the ferry connecting Valletta and Pozzallo on Friday 13th to spend a prolonged weekend in Taormina. There is superstition around this day, but I assume that the outbound trip has been moved to the middle of the night, and the return sailing has been canceled has been due to bad weather, and this not connected to a number, but is a result of the seasonal meteorological constellations. I made it back with a flight from Catania. 

 Hiking trail at the North-East Etna.

Hiking trail at the North-East Etna.

I had only postcard impressions of Mount Etna, but was amazed when I stood in front of it. The 3300 meters make it as impressive as Mount Fuji. I could not reach the crater and the Vulcanological Observatory, as of heavy snow and storm. I even had to assist a few Land Rover Defenders to be pulled out. It was not the car which brought them into this, but some points where the drivers put coolness before competence. 

 Taormina seen from the mountain side.

Taormina seen from the mountain side.

Also Taormina and Castelmola are very nice, not just because of their location between the sea and the volcano, but also the towns themselves. It was clearly off season now, but I can imagine how popular this must be from spring to autumn. I will for sure return, and then also take a hike to the crater. 

 Castelmonte on January 15th

Castelmonte on January 15th

 Landscape of volcanic ashes, approaching the higher regions of Mount Etna.

Landscape of volcanic ashes, approaching the higher regions of Mount Etna.

 Mount Etna seen from Taormina in the early morning of January 16th. For many other days the summit was in clouds.

Mount Etna seen from Taormina in the early morning of January 16th. For many other days the summit was in clouds.