Day 47, 13 May 2009
13.05.2009 - 13.05.2009 0 °C
Today I took the ship’s bus tour from Messina to the eerie lunar landscape of the Valle del Bove (at 6,500 ft), on the edge of Mount Etna and site of recent eruptions. The Mount Etna snow-capped summit at 11,000 feet is 100km SW of Messina. The mountain can be seen from 150 miles away (on a clear day) with its white smoke rising (maybe some concern when it turns black).
Mount Etna, said by the Romans to be the forge of Vulcan, god of fire, is Europe’s largest active volcano. Etna has been credited with 150 or more significant eruptions. At various times, lava has reached the coast. In 1983, Etna erupted for 40 days. An eruption in 2001 lasted only 25 days, considered a modest outburst, but in late 2002 it re-awakened on both north and south flanks, destroying the local ski resort and lifts where the bus tour stopped.
That afternoon the ship cruised close to an active volcanic island called Isola Stromboli (aka Mount Stromboli at 924m). The volcano releases a plume of dark smoke about every 15 minutes - quite an incredible site.