Our day began with an on-time pick up in an extremely comfortable Mercedes. As we made our way to the Mt. Etna funicular, our knowledgeable driver told us about the geology of the area, pointing out which parts of the landscape were volcanic and which weren’t. Winding our way up the south side of the volcano, we stopped several times to talk about the vegetation, the past eruptions and how lava stone is used commercially.
To go to the top of Mt. Etna, we took the funicular up to the bus staging area and then took the bus to the 2950 meter altitude point. From there, we walked around a bit. We visited in mid-May and even though the weather was wonderful in Taormina (around 20 degrees C), the weather on Mt. Etna was fierce: 0 degrees Celsius with winds of 30 kph or more. We had each worn two sweaters and jackets but still, we wished we had worn hats and gloves. As a result of the wind and cold, we did not try to climb the remaining bit up to the crater. Too dangerous.
There were many people visiting Etna that day so the entire trip up and back took around two hours. But it was worth it! How many times do you get to go to the top of a volcano?
After Etna, we went to Gambino winery, located on the northeast side of Mt. Etna. After the ferocious winds on Etna, we felt like we deserved a glass of wine (or two). Gambino winery did much better than that: they served six different delicious Sicilian wines! These yummy wines were accompanied by a delicious meal of cheeses, couscous, cold cuts, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and other sautéed vegetables.
What a fantastic day: a private tour with a fantastic driver/guide, (almost) summiting Mt. Etna and ending with superb local wines accompanied by a delightful meal. Take this tour; you won’t regret it!