Mount Etna is erupting again and as this video shows, the pyrotechnic display put on by Europe’s most active volcano far surpasses anything you’ll ever see on Bonfire Night or New Year’s Eve:
These eruptions, while a spectacular sight, are nothing unusual for Etna. Indeed this was the 19th eruption in 2013 – by the time you read this it may have blown its top for the 20th time. The last major eruption occurred in 1992 and while another increase in activity is inevitable, for now the light show put on by this famous Sicilian mountain is attracting curious visitors from around the world.
Earlier this year, Etna was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, a mark of the global importance placed on this most unpredictable of visitor attractions. So what can you actually do as a visitor to Mount Etna?
Well, the precise extent of what’s open to tourists depends on volcanic activity. If conditions are relatively calm you can reach the crater rim, either by taking the long slog on foot from the cable car station on the slopes of the mountain or by the easier option of a ride in a buggy. The cable car itself links the mountain slopes with a car park lower down the mountain. Once you’re up at the top, however you’ve chosen to get there, you’ll need to be accompanied by a guide as you make your way around the crater rim.
For those wishing to keep their distance from the action, a sedate 3 hour train journey on the Ferrovia Circumetnea follows a 110km course pretty much around Etna’s broad base. This narrow-gauge train is perfect for those wanting to enjoy the views at a gentle pace.
If you want to stay close to Mount Etna, something that’s especially tempting if it’s putting on one of its regular natural displays, a good option is Feudo Vagliasindi agriturismo in nearby Randazzo, one of the stops on the railway line. This is a country house hotel built at the start of the 20th century in the heart of Etna’s DOC red wine-producing area. Wine-tasting and a tour of the cellars are available of course, while those wanting to explore the area can take advantage of the free bike rental available at the property.
While it’s impossible to predict how Etna will be behaving when you arrive in Sicily, it has erupted almost once every two weeks in 2013. So come to Sicily for a fortnight and in addition to the many other attractions the island boasts, you have a pretty decent chance of seeing nature at its most raw and beautiful.