We have visitors in Sicily with us for a few days before they head up to Tuscany for the trip they’ve wanted to take for years. I don’t entirely understand where Tuscany got the reputation it did in America, but the idea that it represents all of Italy, or the best part of Italy, is a grievous misconception that irks me. In any case, we have an ongoing joke about whether or not we can prove that Sicily better in 48 hours. Today we climbed Mount Etna, which, if you ask me, should have put the last nail in Tuscany’s coffin.
Despite the full-scale eruption three days ago, it was relatively easy to find someone who would take us up the volcano for €50 a head. It’s not dangerous because Etna tends to announce herself before her eruptions, which are mostly minor with predictable lava flow. But you need someone who knows where they’re going and where to find the best vantage points for seeing the sights– old lava flows, collapsed craters, caves formed by hundred-year-old eruptions and views of Catania below. It also helps to go up in an off-road vehicle so you can tour around the mountain a little bit without having to go on a 20-mile hike. In the end we walked about 4 miles total, moderately strenuous but not grueling. It was like being on a surface of the moon.