For someone who is crazily scared of heights, my boyfriend wanted to surprise me and take me up on Etna. Obviously I was thrilled, but one can imagine how concerned I got when I realised how horrified he must be.
We got up early, had breakfast at the Agriturismo we were staying in and started driving towards the volcano. As we were driving up we were surprised that for an active volcano, people still build their houses underneath it, considering also that some years ago a lot of restaurants and houses were burned down after a huge eruption.
The drive up was amazing, continuously looking down on the tiny buildings which were being covered by clouds. We could see some old burned lava on the side of the road, while a group of first-aiders were practising a drill, and many tourists like us were enjoying the view with their families.
When we reached the base is were it all got interesting, because while I was thrilled of seeing how far up we had to go and taking photos and jumping like a little child on Christmas morning, my boyfriend behind the steering wheel did not look amused- at all! We parked and decided to take the cable car up. My guess is that the only time he got on a cable car apart from that day was in Romania as we were going up Tâmpa mountain, as I could feel how uneasy and tense he was, while giving me the bird for taking cute photos of him with the view.
Up and up we went, reaching 2900m. Never, in my life, have I experienced such strong winds as I had that day. I am not a strong and build girl, however I never imagined that someone would have to hold me tightly so to not loose balance and fall of the edge (yes, I am a freak that still loves to peak from edges no matter the height or wind). The tour guide explained how the volcano had been actively erupting for the last 4 years, while smoke was coming out the crater. As it turns out, a few days before our visit (25th-27th August) the volcano had erupted again.
In the photos taken, there is one which shows the huge eruption of 2001, in which stones travelled as far as Malta and North Africa. The tour guide also explained how the hole created during that eruption is approximately at 70ºC to date, and even encouraged us to dig our hands into the earth and feel the warmth coming out of the volcano.
I have to admit, this experience is one that will last me a lifetime, and I am super grateful my boyfriend did not let his fear of heights stop him from tagging along or surprising me like that.