This has been one of the highlights of my adventures so far. There is something satisfying in conquering a mountain, a VOLCANO and an active one at that.
I didn’t do this as part of a tour as I was pinching pennies and I didn’t feel the need to be in a big group for this. Maybe I should have since I had a 19 year old boy following me up the mountain a little bit besotted with yours truly (eeek that sounds super arrogant) also I didn’t get to see lava which would have been über cool. However again I have descended into babble. If you catch the regular bus up that leaves at 8:30 in the morning and returns around 16:30 you will save your self some money. It leaves from the Catania Central train station arrive 30 mins early just to be on the safe side and pack a lunch. Also even if its warm down in Catania wear warm clothes as in long pants a wind breaker,something to cover your face and gloves if you have them. You will be walking to 3000m and up there it is cold, not to mention there is snow and an icy icy wind.
The view from sea level, or there abouts
You will get off the bus in what is a massive car park with souvenir shops which does have some nice walks but honestly there is not much there. Jump on the gondola and go up to 2500m from there you walk the rest of the way. Stick to the path at all costs its easy to get disorientated in the fog that rolls through ever few minutes. Don’t be tempted to get on the bus, waste of money and you will miss the landscape and the satisfaction of the climb. It took me around an hour but I was trying to get there quickly as I was worried it would take me ages and I wouldn’t get back in time for the return bus, not to mention I was avoiding conversation with the besotted 19 year old so just powered ahead.
The landscape is alien and beautiful, grey stones rising through mist towers or rocks placed there by tourists, varying contrasts of grey with dirty snow lined paths, beautiful.
Then when you reach the top the stones and soil are changing shades of red and the earth is warm to the touch. Take your time up there, walk the craters watch the steam billow from the centre of the earth and contemplate that beneath your feet there is boiling hot larva that would melt the skin off your bones if it came any where near you. Sorry that was a bit morbid but true. The walk back down is a lot quicker so take your time at the top as all that awaits you in the car park is bad food, worse coffee and even worse shops. However the climb is worth something you won’t forget in a hurry.