Mount Etna, Catania, Scily

Monday, 23 October 2023

Sicily has been one of my “must see” destinations for a while and here we are on a hot (28ºC) cloudless day.

Our trip took us into the Mt. Etna foothills to visit a winery and view a lava flow from the December 1992 eruption. Five wines to sample (at 10:30am!) accompanied by a decent selection of meats, pestos and breads to help soak up the alcohol. The guide was outstanding. Perfect English and succinct explanations of the processes involved. For the first time, having visited a number of wineries, I understand how sparkling wines are made fizzy and how their names tell you everything you need to know.

The lava flow was also interesting, but brings me to the only downside to the day… our tour guide. His English was  accented and he spoke a language I’ll call Engalian - a mix of languages where many descriptive words (like Vulcans) were Italianesque. This wouldn’t have been so bad had he not thought he was lecturing a degree course in vulcanology. Rambling explanations about the Earth’s crust, how volcanos destroyed and rebuilt themselves, how different magmas form and flowed… and then I removed my ear-piece. However, oddly on the coach, he didn’t use the microphone and said little at all, except, at the start, walking around doing one-to-one meet and greets. No next destination, no “we’re leaving at”, no… nothing. Not a word about everyday things Sicilian… nothing.

At the lava flow, in desperation, I switched to another group’s channel and eavesdropping, enjoyed some more relevant information about how local communities prepared for, and coped with eruptions.

Having said all that, we thoroughly enjoyed our 5 hours off-ship, but it could have been so, so much better. 

An earlyish departure today (4pm) for Naples. Amazon Photos’ “on this day” revealed an interesting fact. At 19:45 this evening we will be in exactly the same location as we were 4 years ago - the Straits of Messina, near the Stromboli Volcano (or Vulcan as our guide would have named it).