Sicily 2011 #6: Mt Etna written 8 years ago

Jess Prepares for the crazy driving.
Jess prepares for the crazy driving

Here are my travel notes from Sicily, you might like to read them if you are easily amused. They’re not terribly interesting unless you are me.

Day 7

Rising bright and early, we arrived at the Rental place and the owner greeted us, asking Jess if she was ‘Ready for the Fight’ which entirely filled us with confidence. He explained the route to and from the Autostrada (Motorway) to us, which was promptly forgot and we blasted off on our way.

Mapping up to Etna
The wiggly roads of etna travel

Our first stopping point would be Randazzo. The tour guide leaflet described it as a charming medieval town. When we arrived, all it seemed to offer was a Lidl. We moseyed around for a few mins then surmised it was rubbish and moved on.

Then 2 mins down the road we happened on this cutesy little medieval castle type place. So much for tourguides huh!

We ditched the car with some other abandoned cars, and went in search of somewhere to have a wee. Cake and coffee seemed to be the price we would pay for the use of a privy, but still it wouldn’t afford us a toilet seat.

Sugary Custardy... thing
Sugary Custardy treat in Randazzo

We meandered around and found the lavastone church. Hard to say it’s a novelty or not really, as I’m sure the locals didn’t set out special to make the church out of the lava rock.. it was just the only rock they had to hand really!

Randazzo Church
Church in Randazzo

A crazy old man gave us a short crazy tour of some shiny things in Randazzo, and despite our protests of not understanding a single frikken word he jibbered, still demanded €2 for the privilege of being rambled at.

We had a wander, and marvelled at the old old town, with the Porsches and Mercs parked outside the wreck and ruined houses.

Having deemed we had squozen everything out of Randazzo it had to offer, we jumped back in the Punto-a-tron and mozeyed on down the road, taking in some of the lovely views.

Mt Etna
Getting higher now

Next up was a stop at Adrano for lunch. Ate our sarnies in a park, couldn’t find a restaurant.. only cafés, which offered little more than coffee and cake.

School kids were leaving school as we arrived (1pm?). Only place I felt unsafe.. We were on our way pretty soon.

Adrano - Reminds me of Blackpool

Now our journey to the summit would begin in earnest. We went to head up the mountain, and a few false starts (all signs seem to point to Etna..) we found a narrow and muddy path; we lasted half a kilometre before bottling it and finding a new route. There were signs for some kinda park dog walking archery bonanza, but we felt it would either need a jeep to get there, or it’d just be shut.. a bloke with a bus full of school kids did stop and ask us for directions..

We found our bearing again, and onwards to Refugio Sapporito we went. Arriving just 10 minutes after the last cable car had left :-(

Cable Cards
We just missed the last cablecar.

This had us moping around for a few mins, but we headed out and found Crater Silvestri just down the road.

This way to Crateri Silvestri
Crateri Silvestri - this-a-way!

Many skiers at Etna.

Etna at sunset.

Kids were sledding down into the crater with glee, and as the sun set and looked all prettiful, we realised we didn’t have such a bad lot afterall.

Above the Clouds
The top of Mt Etna is Above the clouds
Etna Sunset

Maybe with a tourguide (bus or private taxi) we would have gotten on the cable cars.. but we were cheery we got to stop and do exactly what we wanted to do.. I think we can spend 30 mins in a church most would only give 5 mins to (Still take in the same mind..)

Delicious Hot Chocolate from the bar next to the crater.. Frikken stand-your-spoon up in it thick.

Hot Chocolate
A cup of molten chocolate

It was pretty dark outside now, so we set off towards Giarre and the Autostrada, stopping for a few photographs along the way.

Turns out the green light above a lane on the entrance to the motorway means ‘automatic toll payment this way’, so much confusion we marched onto the motorway, sans-ticket. (In Italy motorways are tolled; you take a ticket on your way in and pay for your distance travelled on the way out). The nice lady in the payment booth however felt sorry for us and our babbled Italian, and waived the million euro fine for not having a ticket.

Now came the return journey through the town centre. We bumbled intrepidly, making several U-turns and other dubious manoeuvres (the Italians taught us well..) and made it back to the rental co.. only to find we had neglected to fill the car with petrol and had to go back around again. Oh how we laughed.

Using self service petrol pump was a novel experience.. You feed in your tenner into the machine, and it vends up 10 quidsworth of petrol. Had to have a local explain it to us. Bit rubbish if you don’t need a tenners worth of petrol though!

Food of lasagne (lots of sheets of pasta!) as wasn’t very hungry.. Waiter not very impressed with this, seemingly!

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