Francavilla in Sicily

Francavilla in Sicily

The highlight of my holiday was visiting Mount Etna. Etna was visible from the plane from 500 miles away; a slightly brooding presence with its upper slopes cloaked in snow.

The hotel bus took us up a steep road with hairpin bends; the journey being an experience in itself. We passed through the village of Bronte with its Lord Nelson connections.

The extent of the 2001 / 2002 eruptions and lava flows were evident and made one aware of the sheer force of nature. Etna dominates the island at 3323 metres high. In March there was still snow around so the walk was always going to be interesting.

We started our climb fortified with hot chocolate. The walking was easy with the ground being a mixture of soft snow and volcanic ash.

We climbed to about 2000 metres and rested, taking in the views and just enjoying the fresh air tinged with a slight smell of sulphur. We all enjoyed pointing out where we had walked on other days. It was interesting walking past two craters and looking down into their depths.

We all enjoyed running down a steep path. It was a question of leaning back and just going for it. There was lots of boot emptying at the bottom with black volcanic ash being the main offender.

This holiday has everything: enjoyable walks, and a comfortable hotel with excellent food. It was Easter and the flowers were beautiful, we saw many orchids.

On the free day choices include Syracuse, Taormina or just chilling out. I explored a disused railway line but could have visited the Circumetnea railway which circles the base of Etna.

And every day the delightful chore of watching Carlo making your lunch, he made it into an art form.