Mt. Etna, Catania, Sicily, Italy

Namaste,

This was my first visit to a LIVE volcano. Thanks to my husband he asked me to select one location for trip. Undoubtedly I would say, it will be seeing a volcano. There is small reason behind selecting volcano. While studying geology once in our class our professor mentioned his historic quote “Unfortunately India has no Volcano” Except for a mud volcano. SO, for a moment we all were looking at each other in class. When we were thinking oh since we never had volcano we can never make a field trip to learn volcano and learn it. Before someone jump to a judgmental mode. The statement was made for educational purpose and nothing else. I have taken geology subject as  I love to go to field and our teachers really made us love the subject. Since  I belong to western region of India, from Maharashtra. This area is a Deccan Basalt from fissure eruption so I have seen enough of Igneous rocks. First we thought of Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii region but eventually made it to Mt. Etna. This trip was quick vacation trip for our first wedding anniversary.

Our hotel was very near to Aci Castello. We landed early so we just kept our bags and took a walk along this Italian coastline. It has amazing huge villas. Very expensive place. Highly sophisticated. Calm and quite and very less people around to be seen. This castle was amazing place some 4 bucks entry fees per person. We had a nice sea view enjoyed the place. I had already taken glimpses of huge Mt. Etna from flight and road journey as it is high relief. It is huge and massive structure.

Next day we had a trip booked online to visit Mt. Etna Volcano. There was a lady guide who picked us from the hotel. We were worried as she came little late and there was no communication from the online service provider. We just made online payment. There was another British couple with us on this trip. Bit older age couple. The guy was worried and kept making sarcastic comments on the lady driver if she had appeared driving license and stuff like that. He was worried for speeding and lane changing issues. We reached at the foot hill of volcano. From here we were taken into a bus a sturdy bus that took us uphill on volacno. The entire view was amazing.  I was trilled for my visit. Also remembered my teacher on the day. The huge gigantic black giant. Who remains silent for a while. Just few weeks ago before our visit, volcano was active. All we can see is continuous gases oozing out with dust. While climbing uphill in bus, we stopped at a place where they showed us an old remains of a building that was gone under volcanic erruption. In my picture you can see the place where we are standing is roof and it is 3 floors down submurged.

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The place was little chilled in morning. At places we could see some melting ice. The entire volcano appears like sand dune in black colour.  As the new guide from bus took our group to  crater where we could see fumes coming from ground. Also you can smell Sulphur fumes with little bit of burning sensation to eyes. Nothing much to worry about. It is worth taking such an experience.

Expectation Vs Reality: We had fun while discussing about how volcanoes are formed and and stuff like that. My husband wanted to see lava flow. So I had to explain that if there is lava flow active we won’t be allowed to visit this place. Everything will be closed and braced for evacuation and stuff like that. It is not his fault. Its very facinatig to see how volcano erupts in videos. Those are made by people who escape and reach such regions to capture the magic of nature. So if you are plannig to visit volcano keep in mind that you will not see active lava eruptions. Just for your information, there are different stages of volcanoes. Active, dormant and dead. Active are those where activity is noticed, dormant which are dangerous those have not shown any activity in recent years, but can erupt any time and dead are those which are just remnants of crater now. The time of activeness is geologic time that is counted in millions of years and not few decades or centuries. So even if a volcano has erupted few centuries ago. Its status will be active. There are certain places in Hawaii where they have excursions that has boat trips and chopper trips to places where lava flows can be seen.

There is a cable car which is bit expensive roughly 40 euros per person that takes you up to a crater of 2012 eruption. If you love nature you will spend extra money and get to and see this view. This information will help you to be prepared for additional cost. There are special tours that take you to actual crate opening. Those are special licensed guides they are prepared for special situations. The sand on the volcano is coarse and not fine sand. It is not compacted but loose. It is basically ash that keeps flying out. All the active volcanoes are monitored for slightest tremors or activities with the help of satellite. Mostly eruption is seen with changes in regular eruption of gasses and dust frequencies. SO if you are planning there is nothing to worry about it. This regular ash that flies to longer distances. Finer sand/ash is reported to be found settled in southern African continents. This bring highly enriched nutrition to soil and also to the oceanic waters. The crater that we visited was newly formed crater at 2012. Initially when the main crater was fully active the lava spread in all directions. Now there is a natural boundary created so even if there is a proper flow of lava it will be in a channel along south south east as mentioned by our guide. Its only if you go up hill you get to experience how are these natural forces working and it is so huge.

As we travelled down our next location was Lava Tube. Now what is Lava tube. when the lava is flowing underneath its channel is like a hollow tube. where surface is dried crust and hot molten lava can flow inside these tubes. These lava tubes can extend from few meters to few kilometers to few miles. Our guide mentioned there are lava tubes that are deep underground and extend from Catania to Malta Islands. going south. The Lava Tube that we visited was same and not shown any activity in geologic recent times. We walked till roughly 20 minutes. We were given helmet and torch. The ground was not flat surface but it was uneven and she even showed us certain features inside those were amazing. Like walls of the volcanic tube flakes out as lava is cooling inside. I will cover that part in my video.

As the volcanic land is most fertile land we took an opportunity and had a local winery visit and a semi precious stones store factory.

 

 

 

 

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