This is the story of a single day side trip from Malta to Sicily and the beautiful village of Taormina, a world heritage coastal region, and to the erupting Etna volcano.
Staying in Malta a fortnight without much to do was efficiently vitalised by an organised day tour to Sicily in a high-speed passenger ferry. The ferry left early in the morning and the group was picked up by a waiting tour bus in the harbour of Pozzallo in the south.
East coast of Sicily
From there we followed the eastern coastline almost all the way to Messina, but stopped just short of it at the beautiful town of Taormina. I can remember a colleague of mine who said he was going to Taormina on honeymoon in 1991. At that time I had never heard of the place but have later over the years heard many a tale.
And no wonder. Taormina was truly picturesque, with a superb view from high above the azure blue Mediterranean Sea. The photo ops were a-plenty. And needless to say; I was not the only one to realise that.
Images from Taormina:
Also very interesting was the route to Mount Etna, the only active volcano in Europe. It has quite frequently eruptions, some larger than others. There was actualle an eruption when we were there. As we drove towards it we could see the fumes from near the summit, and also red flames coming up several places on the mountain sides.
The road up was zigzagging its way on the southern slopes of Etna, in a partially moon-like lava-dead landscape. We could see houses spared in the last big eruptions while neighbouring houses had been engulfed by the lava streams. I took a cable car the last bit, and hiked even further in the lava sand. I could have walked for a lot longer but the heat was taking its toll in the warm day, on black sand – and the fact that the bus was soon returning to the coast.
Mount Etna, Sicily
Mount Etna, Sicily
Images from Etna:
Returning to Pozzallo in the early evening we could easily see the red flames of exploding lava on Mount Etna when we looked back.