Europe’s highest and most active volcano – Sicily’s Mount Etna – is at it again. This past weekend, minor eruptions shook the cone of the volcano. Tuesday there was a more significant seismic event followed by a rain of ash on the southeast crater. There doesn’t appear to be any danger to nearby residents. According to the AFP , “The last eruption of Mount Etna was in November 2007, two months after another eruption forced a temporary closure of nearby Catania airport due to flowing lava and clouds of ash. The last major eruption was in 2001.”
The seismic activity may put a temporary halt to visits to the famous volcano. Tourists to nearby resort town Taormina often take organized day trips to get up close and personal with Etna. Dream of Italy contributor Karina Halvorsen wrote about her experience in the article, “Waking The Giant.” Here’s how her journey began:
We disembarked in Piano Provenzana, a tiny, souvenir-laden skiing outpost where jeeps were gathered to take curious tourists up the volcano. Waiting for the next jeep departure, a shop owner explained that the temperature would drop with each foot of elevation. I rented a bright orange parka from him for the surprisingly reasonable price of 2 euros.
After a wild 20-minute ride over undulating terrain, the jeep let us out at the highest point we could legally go– 9,300 feet elevation. (It is not safe to go to Etna’s summit at 11,000 feet; as of December 2002, it is also forbidden.) The fog was thick and the air a chilly 33 degrees Fahrenheit. Visibility was so poor that the jeep vanished from sight just as I made my way up an incline. Freezing rain had started to fall during our 4-wheel trek. I pulled my rented parka tightly around me, grateful for its warmth and fluorescence.
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