My wife and I were visiting Sicily for the first time. We stayed in Taormina because we would be able to access trips to Mount Etna easily. In fact, we had beautiful views of the volcano throughout our trip under a range of weather. We had initially booked a full-day excursion to the volcanic slopes but, at the last minute, changed to a sunset trip.
This was an inspired move; there were just four of us in a four-wheel drive vehicle (compared with a busload of fellow tourists). More significantly, we were there in the late evening (just before the aforementioned sunset hour) when this storm came through for this photograph. This was the forerunner for heavy rain in Taormina but snow storms and blizzards on Etna itself. The poor people on the trip we should have taken did not experience any visibility and could not leave their coach. In contrast, we had the most wonderful weather with bright, almost horizontal sun and this storm to top it all off.
The image you see captures some of the beauty of the oxidising magma - the red colour in the rocks is caused by oxidation of the iron in the solid lava (in fact, in some of the craters that we visited, there are many hues as the rocks contained different proportions of the minerals that when oxidised gave the colours).
My location is on the rim of the southeastern crater, which rises about 200 feet about the Refugio, which is the small 'village' that is the location for the gondola ride to the top of Etna (not available to us due to high winds). It was bitterly cold, but the light was changing rapidly around us, giving me hysterics as I was spoiled for choice of compositions. This one fits the Moody Weather bill; the sun's rays struggled to emerge from the different cloud formations. It will long remain with me as a most memorable experience.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor