Giardini Naxos is a small town situated on the coast of the Ionian Sea at the foot of Mount Etna, in north-east Sicily. This is the town outside which the cruise ship I was on in 2006 anchored enabling us to go ashore. The approach from the sea is dramatic with the continually smoking volcano looking very close and dangerous to the town. In fact the volcano does erupt regularly but appears to find a different exit point each time along the crest of the hill range, thus leaving several old craters which it is now reasonably safe to visit, or so we were assured! In the past Etna has deposited its lava all along this coast and the evidence is easy to see in the long-since cooled and solidified lava floes now forming shelves of rock jutting out to sea all along this coast. I have included two photographs of this below.
The sea approach to Giardini Naxos with Mount Etna smoking in the background
Lava outcrops, now solidified spill into the sea all along the coastline
Close-up of the lava deposits
My wife and I accompanied a group from the ship to take a coach to the mountain top – a journey of about 30 miles which takes approximately one hour along the winding uphill roads. I include further photographs of this dramatic journey below.
A Giardini Naxos beach looking towards the ancient town of Taormina and its Saracen Castle
Another idyllic beach and rocky outcrop near Naxos
Looking back from the road leading to the summit
Several views of the craters of old eruptions
Flora gradually reclaiming a foothold on the barren earth
The tour guide serenades us with Italian operatic arias as we descend the mountain on the return journey