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"I had heard about the stupendous iridescence of the aurora upon the Ionian Sea, when you contemplate it from Etna's summit...The earthly and marine vastness revealed to our sight stretched as far as Africa, clearly visible, and Greece, as far as you could have guessed. It was one of the supreme moments of my life. Nothing was missing, not the golden fringe of a cloud, nor the eagles..."

Adapted from "Adriano's Memories", Marguerite Yourcenar.

ITAENGDEU

Giro d'Italia on Mount Etna

Last time I watched Giro d'Italia was on 5 June 1999, twelve years ago.

On that day Marco Pantani was stopped the start of race and I realized it was useless to keep following this sport, due to its doping issues.

In that period, I had a passion for cyclism, but I completely ignored Mount Etna, and as most etnean citizens, I just used to go there for pick chestnuts.

Yesterday, 15 May 2011, the Giro d'Italiia arrived on Mount Etna, crossing it from two sides and arriving at Rifugio Sapienza. Many thing changed since 1999 for me and for the cyclism and yesteday I watched the race, ipnotized from Mount Etna images.

During these years, I left this wonderful land and the passion for Mount Etna arised, leading me to create this site. Yesterday, Mount Etna brought me closer to cyclism (as spectator, of course). Watching tv, I thought to three things:

1) Cyclism: Alberto Contador won the race; I don't know anything about him (my knowledge ends at Indurain, Armstrong and Pantani) except that he's the strongest and will probably win Giro and Tour. Dear Alberto, I just hope you raised your hands to the sky with the absolute certainty you played fair, for the rispect Mount Etna deserves and for your sport integrity

2) My beautyful land: the cyclists went closes to 70% of trails/caves/nature described on this site. Check the page "Transport" to find the list of attractions you can find on each road crossed by the race.

3) The sadness for not being there, and for being forced to live 1500 km faraway. I can just tell Mount Etna from this site, but this a different question... overall, there's the pride for the wonderful images I watched, as many other people did.

 

From north to south Italy

Bove Valley panorama

Here we are again. After the big disappointment of the Pietracannone houses, we are going to show you an itinerary that represents its natural continuation: the Cubanìa pine wood.
This area, until a few years ago, was still a private property used to pick wood and pine resin. The rock walls, the systems to re-direct the raining water, the broadness of the street (which can be traversed with bikes), they all reveal that the area was being maintained by privates. We hope that the integrity of the path will be maintained in the future years. The path has an interesting but demanding variation to go to an ancient unactive crater: Rinatu mount. On the outside it looks like an arid red mount, but on the inside it hosts a wood that is visible only when you reach the top of the crater. At the end of the path, if you are not too tired, you can try to go visit the Sartorious mounts or the Serracozzo Grotto.

Cinque Terre panorama

If, instead, you would rather go for a dive into the sea…we have a fantastic place to show you, even if it is a bit far from Etna: the Cinque Terre (the Five Lands), in Liguria.
These are 5 fantastic little villages, connected among them by every sort of paths. We have tracked the easiest one, which is 10km long and has a 600m different in height.
Enjoy!

 

Across Italian boundaries...

...from "Calanna Valley" to Wales!
Sgwd yr Eira

We took another detour from our "Etnean knowledge sharing mission". As we had the chance to visit a bit some interesting areas in Wales, we decided to publish an easy, interesting path inside the "Waterfall Country" in Wales. We spent a few hours into the Beacon Brecons National park, surrounded by rivers end waterfalls that definetely deserve a trip.

Rainbow at Calanna valley

This doesn't mean we forgot about Etna! We finally found out the time to describe and publish a trail we walked on with some friends at the beginning of the year: Calanna valley . Until 1991, the valley was green and used for etnean fruit coltivations. In that year, the eruption that covered the Bove valley reached this place, destroyng everything with a lava flow larger than 2 km. Italian Army tried to stop the lava flow, also building a wall whose ruins are still visible close to mount Calanna, but the lava flow went over the wall. Once again, the volcano won, deciding to stop a few meters before the town of Zafferana.
Now, is possibile to walk easily above cold lava flow, staring in front of nature power.

 

Something that could be...

The notch on the snow at Pietracannone path

There is a place on Etna where everything works at perfection. The Museum of Etna Rural Life has been built. Tourists are taken along a guided path that shows the different ways by which the Mountain allowed the small towns to survive in the past years. The tour starts from an old pine-wood, where local elderly show how resin used to be extracted from the trees and the different uses of this substance. Sitting on a bench, a carpenter is working a couple of local wooden pieces with ancient tools, creating crafts that can be bought by tourists straight from him. The most impressive point for visitors is the ancient "notch of the snow" (literally "tacca della neve"). This is a rectangular hollow where snow is kept during the winter, carefully covered during the summer and then extracted in blocks. The snow is brought downhill with carts (now electric carts, but in the past they where pulled by mules). The snow blocks were used as a refrigerant before fridges became widespread and the best pastry-cooks used the blocks to make granita! They would make a hole in the snow block, insert a spinning holder inside, then they would put inside the ingredients and mix until the desired consistency was obtained. This technique is today showed to tourists in the refuge downhill from the pine-wood. In the refuge the old local women serve to visitors the granitas, still prepared like 80 years ago. It is also possible to buy the typical products of this area of the volcano: honey, preserves, fresh fruit and wine, all produced locally in small quantities.

Stone Forest at Piano Provenzana

Now we have to wake up. What we talked about so far obviously does not exist on Etna. It exists in Stockholm (the Skansen), in Estonia, it surely exists in many other places in the world and could surely exist also on Etna. Instead there is a devastated refuge, a notch of the snow completely covered by vegetation, a path which can be barely be walked through. All this can be found in the path of Pietracannone Houses Trail ("Sentiero delle Case di Pietracannone"), and it is in such bad conditions to have deserved an article on one of the biggest Italian national newspapers. Can we only blame the local councils because they do nothing to value what we have? But what are we doing about it, in our own small way? It is not enough to say: “I love Etna because it is the first thing I look at in the morning”. We should do more than picking the chestnuts in autumn or throwing snow balls at each other in the winter. For istance, thanks to Antonio and Lorenzo who have sent me another path traced by them, contributing in this way to spreading the knowledge of another small piece of the volcano.

 
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