Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Snowy Sunday on Mt. Etna

Nicolosi has a great volcano museum, which I finally got to visit this past Saturday. It's called the Museo Vulcanologico dell'Etna. Although I've known about it since last summer, I never went there primarily because I couldn't FIND it. However, Susan learned where it was and so we finally got there. (For those of you who want to easily find it, turn right at the Esso station on main street and half a block down on the right hand side you'll find it. But you can't park there, so park back by the gas station.) Anyway, after viewing a great film (in English, even), the huge Etna model (with interactive location of towns), and lots and lots of lava samples, we wanted to go UP on Etna and look for a good book and maybe a DVD on the subject.

The very same day, we attempted to drive up to the Refugio Sapienza (where all the gift shops and restaurants are) but had to turn back due to snow-covered roads and falling temperatures.

On Sunday, however, temperatures had risen and we tried again. This time we took no chances and invited/coerced our neighbor Rob to drive us in his Jeep and to take the main road. We easily zoomed up the 15 km. or so to the refugio and joined hundreds of snow-crazed Italians who were sledding, skiing, slip-sliding, and hiking in their fancy snow clothing. There was a LOT of snow up there!

We went directly to the restaurant/gift shop that has the best collection of books, maps, posters, DVDs, and lava souvenirs and found what we were seeking. While we were there, we decided to have lunch. They had a great little cafeteria-style line going with a variety of pasta, meats, antipasti, vegetables, wine, etc., all of which we consumed with gusto! As we were finishing, we noticed a few snowflakes flying outside the window. Within minutes, it was practically a blizzard.

We stopped outside to take a few photos and noticed two older people attempting to pull a third one in a wheelchair up a snowy, icy hill. We volunteered Rob to perform a random act of kindness. Even with his help, they had a lot of trouble getting the chair up the hill!

Before leaving, though, we HAD to make a snowman to put on the hood of the car! (See January 2005 blog.) The snow was perfect for packing, and we soon had a good-sized snowperson with one lava eye whom we named Frostina! She sat right on the windshield wipers, however, so Rob could not run them the whole way down the volcano to Nicolosi, despite continued hail and snow, making visibility and driving somewhat difficult. We kept waiting for her to slide off as we moved out of the snow, but she hung right on there, getting thinner by the minute, and went home with Rob for the night. (His wife is out of town.)

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