Lava and other palaver

So, Mount Etna kicked off again last week, with a bit of a lava show. Catania’s airport was closed briefly because of hot ash in the sky, and players from the Serie A football side AS Roma were left stranded in the city for a night. The latter doesn’t sound like the worst outcome in the world, except perhaps to the American travel writer Josephine Tozier who had this to say in 1910:

If it were my wretched fate to belong to Catania, I too would brave the terrors of possible hot lava and live high up on the slopes.

That aside, the recent news brought back memories of my own experiences with Mount Etna, which erupted in slightly more savage fashion than this latest activity only a few weeks after Gill and I moved to Sicily. Our eruption went for 95 days, was accompanied by countless earthquakes, and resulted in 70 million cubic metres of pyroclastic materials (i.e., lava, ash, rock fragments) being ejected into the sky, some of it ending up in Greece and even North Africa.

But you can read about all of that in the book! In the meantime, here are a few photos. The first two are taken on the day we climbed Etna, including Gill and I just below the summit (3,329m). If we’d been up there two weeks later when the volcano exploded into life, it would have been game over. The third photo is one I took from Catania’s port just a week before the eruption.


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