You can’t come to Sicily and not see Mount Etna. Monday afternoon our hire car arrived, that we organised through Paolo. A little red 4 door turns up. We didn’t want anything flash as we were gonna take the dogs in it. But true to Italian cars, it turned up with a taped up window, hub caps cable tired on and a squeak in the wheel if you turned hard left. At least we fit in with the banged up local cars. Monday we took it for a test drive as it was left hand drive and Jas would have to change gears with his right hand…..totally foreign. We drove to the Gole Alcantara, the lava gorges about 14km up the road. Or should I say, the sat nav took us through the goat track roads. Thank goodness for a small car. We got there just before closing so decided to see it first thing in the morning. Tuesday morning we headed off to Gole Alcantara. Paying the €6 each entrance fee we headed around the top walkways. This time of year the lower part is closed, as we had some rain. The gorges that have formed are due to the lava flow over the last 8,000 years. Basaltic columns have formed in a light grey colour. They look a lot like a reptilian scales. It’s pretty cool to see how far the lava flow has traveled over all those years. On the geological park is also many orchards and olive groves, rich from the volcanic soils. We headed off after about 40 mins, our goal to circumnavigate around Etna and hopefully get up her. Not far down the road the Alcantara river was still flowing and we pulled over to get a photo of the water flowing under and archway and along the carved out gorges. A Shepard was close by and was fascinated with the our two collies. His shepherd dog just roaming the main road. As we drove on we saw Castiglione di Sicilia up on the hilltop. Pulling up we parked on the edge of town above the church. Sitting out on a rugged outcrop is a tower, below some cute goats. Stopping to stretch our legs and admire the view up to Etna. As we left town our sat nav had another of many to come meltdowns and took us through a series of tiny streets. One so narrow, a  guy told us to pull the mirrors in and we would fit, maybe. Turning around we left the way we came and carried on. As you drive around Etna, it is about 185km. You see masses of lava fields. Its lot like Iceland obviously, with all its volcanic fields. As we headed up to Etna south, Rifugio Sapienza we drove up a series of winding roads. On the corner of one a house submerged in the lava, only the roof sticking out. Arriving at Crater Silverstri we got out. Starting to snow and bitterly cold. I headed up to the brown coloured crater and stood on top. Jason talking to a dutch couple who were asking if he was cold standing in his board shorts. Typical kiwi, it’s snowing and on top of an active volcano in his summer attire. Grabbing a quick coffee to warm up we headed towards the north side. We made it as far as 3km from Piano Provenzana. The road now thick with snow and ice. The cloud also settling over the top. We didn’t want to risk the 3km up as we didnt have snow chains and the snow was falling again. Taking photos from where we could it was still an experience to say we have climbed another volcano. This one currently active. Would have loved to get a night lava shot up there, but the road was way to dangerous. Heading down was an interesting mix of ice, snow and winding hairpin bends. Travelling through the town of Linguaglossa and its gorgeous baroque buildings. We arrived back exhausted. Happy to say we survived driving around and up Etna.

etna south
Silverstri Crater
Etna north
Etna north