I’ve been catching up on a lot of things since my last trip abroad with Bryan: journaling, travel videos, organizing photos etc… All while trying to soak up all the sunshine Malta has to offer, it’s been hard okay?
Thinking back on our trip to Sicily there were many highlights, however, hiking up Mount Etna, Europe’s biggest, most active volcano, definitely takes the cake. Our day started in Giardini Naxos, a small seaside town tucked underneath Taormina. We made sure to leave early to beat the tour buses, which departed around 9 am from where we stayed. After climbing the windy roads of SP92, watching the outside temperature drop from 22 to 12 degrees, passing some crazy mountain bikers and seeing the Crateri Silvestri, we reached the base camp of Etna. The parking lot was almost entirely empty, so parking wasn’t an issue… finally. We quickly changed into our warmer clothes in the parking lot and then purchased our €30 tickets for the “Funivia dell’Etna”, the Cableway of Etna. The cable car took us from the base camp, Rifugio Sapienza at 1923 meters, up the mountain to 2500 meters within less than 10 minutes.
From this point, we hiked up to the second highest point of Etna, stopping every few minutes to take in the surrounding views. We were told to go early to avoid the crowds and because the skies begin to cloud over in the afternoon… and they were right. We hiked up the side of the crater, just under Torree del Filosofo, and reached approximately 2900 meters! We sat on the side of the crater for a few minutes, laughed about how hilarious our lives were at the moment, braved the wind for a few photos and walked/slided back down. It was pretty crazy to be on top of the crater… the rocks were warm to touch and there were even some spots where steam was seeping out! Super cool, amiright? We stopped for lunch half-way down, finding a sunny spot with minimal wind and enjoyed the view. On our way to the cable car, we climbed one last crater, which by this point was quite busy. Once we were relaxing in the cable car on the way down, we felt quite accomplished! We were super happy we made the effort to get up early to beat the crowds and to hike off the beaten trail.
Our last stop of the day was at Castelmola, a small village perched on the top of a mountain over Taormina. From here, we could see Giardini Naxos, Etna and surrounding hills and valleys. We sat on an empty balcony that over looked Etna and enjoyed some limoncello. Like I said, a highlight of our trip to Sicily.
Sicily, we loved you (minus the food poisoning episode), we’ll be back!