On May 29, we decide eventually not to stay the night up on 2.000m / Parking Etna Sud, proving us being smart camper girls. Otherwise, we would have been shaken…
None of this is predictable when we start on our 12th day from Sabbiadoro towards the Etna. We would love to tell you that we catch one of the rare days when Etna’s peak is clearly visible, but we rather see business as usual: one third of the volcano is covered by clouds. The more we approach it, the less inviting looks our surrounding.
It gets better, though, as Hector’s wheels climb up and up the mountain. Grey lava and colourful flowers embellish the road and give a first impression of nature’s forces that may be calm, but always present.
I suddenly smile, thinking of a friend who comments left-but-slow-drivers on the highway with a reference to common video games: “Die rechte Spur ist Lava”. Right he is… (special greetings to Klaus!).
Walking around a volcano is like landing on a foreign planet. It is almost irritating to see the regular blue sky above us, a yellow or violet firmament would fit in even better.
With a few metres of distance, it becomes obvious that Hector is parked right in the middle of a former lava flow. That is what they do here: they observe. They wait. Once the Etna erupts, they wait again (more cautious now). When the lava is cold enough, they re-build the roads and welcome tourist busses.
The same is true for the funicular: the former one got partly destroyed by eruptions? Never mind, we erect new pylons beside the old ones and start all over again. Danger vs. tourism, money vs. nature.
We leave Hector for expensive parking fees at the tourist parking and choose early lunch at the local (and very touristic) restaurant. It is only there that I wonder if some parts of the building might be less stable then others – it seems that the walls are slightly shaking sometimes. At that point we still make jokes about possible earthquakes…
After Lunch, we go up on one of the older craters. While the Stromboli had been extraordinary with its regular eruptions, the Etna impresses by its sheer size. We look south and see the sea in a far distance – like merging Mars into Mediterranean.
Looking north, we see more craters and the massive clouds that swallow 1.000m of the volcano’s height.
It is fascinating up here, a whole lot of nature jumps at our faces. Partly due to the view and the weird landscape, partly literally with all the pumice that is blown up on us. Volcanos and wind always come as a couple.
We consider the option staying the night up here. Yet, 6°C and light rain is not the most comfortable surrounding – hence, we decide to go down to Catania for a relaxed campsite with seaside. Hector is already focused on the destination and off we go.
Camping Jonio is just perfect for our last common night. Any parking position more than 20m away from the sea is so not our style, and here we have everything we need. Apart from being close to downtown, that is. However, we are in walking distance to a small harbour and detect wonderful fish shops along the way.
It is our last evening together before Martina catches her flight the next morning. Consequently, we find one of the most excellent restaurants of the entire trip and enjoy all kinds of fish, a bottle of Donnafugata Cattarratero, dessert, coffee and total luxury at Nitto restaurant, Porto piccolo.
When we fall asleep that night, we are not aware of the Etna and its erupting activities.