We woke to the tantalising vision of that beautiful red, orange and yellow hillside out the window, and lay for a time just soaking it in — it’s pretty amazing that we can wake up in a place like this (and still get up to a hot shower!). Man, getting a motorhome was the best idea ever.
Newly enthused by thoughts of wonders to come, we had breakfast, checked the camera’s batteries, donned our walking gear, and headed out into the world. While Katherine was busy strapping her boots to her feet, I wandered out and met another wild-camping motorhomer who was parked nearby, who I had briefly greeted the day before. He was a stocky Italian, with an enormous beard, travelling with his dog, and while he didn’t speak any English, we had a brief conversation during which I indicated we were off to walk up the mountain, and he pointed out a better route to the one we previously had in mind (“bella vista!”).
So, we followed the advice of our co-wildcamper and headed off, up the side of the valley through a birch wood, a shock of yellow at the top, silver of trunks in the middle, and orange leaf litter at our feet.
We climbed through deep drifts of ash which proved to be quite a leg workout, and eventually emerged on top of what we can only assume is Mount Zoccolaro, perched above the lava fields.
We got a bit adventurous and followed a faint-looking pathway along the ridge, requiring a little scrambling along the way. We were rewarded with some more amazing views over the valley:
We were just awed by the size of the lava field, particularly given its youth — this, and so much more, was the product of Etna’s 2001 eruption. Absolutely freaking incredible.
We scrabbled our way back along the ridge and back down the hill, having a great time ‘skiing’ down the ashy bits.
When we got back to Nettle, we let our feet recover for a moment, then drove onwards, heading downhill — very slowly and carefully, this time! We stopped briefly in a town to get some diesel, then drove on through the pretty town of Milo, before turning uphill again up Etna’s eastern flank. The scenery here was more wooded than on the south side, with lots of pretty silver-and-yellow birches.
We spotted a likely-looking clearing just off the road, turned in, and settled in for the evening. Etna smoked gently behind us, the long plume brilliantly backlit by the sunset as the chill of alpine evening set in. It was peaceful and absolutely beautiful.
…And cold! By the time we went to bed, it had reached 2°C, something we hadn’t yet experienced since we’ve been with Nettle! Her heater served us well!