on the bank of the strait of the same name. It separates the island of Sicily from continental Italy by less than 2 miles (3 km).
The Province of Calabria is visible through the haze.
Taormina is located in Sicily, where ancient Roman ruins still remain, in particular the Greek ampitheater. Etna is home to the Kamchatka volcano, the tallest active volcano in Europe.
Out bus tour navigated through the small streets of Messina.
Leaving Messina along the coast, we were able to take in the mountainous landscape:
Getting closer to Taormina. Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe at 10,921 feet (3329 meters).
The slopes of Etna are divided into several natural zones. The lowermost zone is typical of southern landscapes, with deciduous and fruit trees and flowers. Grapes also grow well here because of the rich volcanic soil, making wine from Etna one of the best in Italy. Etna also produces several fine liqueurs and tinctures, all of which can be tasted by visitors.
Passing through the town of Zafferana:
Vineyard along the road:
And now pay special attention to this photo. In the top left top, over the rooftop and vineyards, a huge, stiffened stream of lava is clearly visible. This fiery stream spared Zafferana during the eruption of 1992, like a miracle, it stopped the destruction filled path only a few hundred feet from the village. However, residents of the villages scattered on the slopes of Etna live rather quietly and peacefully in their neighborhoods. Perhaps, thanks to the pacifying effect of the local wine and the location of their homes, they have involuntarily become fatalists.
A Catholic monastery sat on the slope, bringing masses of pilgrims from neighboring towns to rest and meditate.
Rising higher into the mountains, deciduous and coniferous forests grew, and animals like roes, boars, and other game made up the native wildlife. Poisonous mushrooms also grew here:
Passing through the forest zone of Etna:
The higher you go up the mountain, the less vegetation we saw, giving way to a classic volcanic landscape.
We stopped on a platform, more than 6500 feet (2000 meters) above ground. There were several side craters including the well-known Silvestri crater. There was also a cafe nearby where we tasted some of the local wines.
Ski lifts brought visitors to the top of the mountain:
Side craters of Etna.
Below, are the Silvestri craters.
The smell of sulfur was still prevalent:
These craters were formed at the end of the 19th century and received their name, firstly, because they were formed on December 31st, the day of Saint Silvester, and secondly because Silvestri is the name of the volcanologist who studied them.
Coming back to Messina.