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Volcanoes, mud baths and steaming fumaroles in Sicily

21 October 2013

Volcanic Italy has the only active volcanoes in mainland Europe, featuring bubbling thermal springs, mud pools and spectacular volcanic landscapes.  Many of these are in Sicily and on its offshore islands.

The starting point has to be Mount Etna which, at approximately 3350 meters high, is Europe’s tallest active volcano.

In spite of the fact that over 1200 square metres of Etna’s surface is covered with solidified lava, the mountain offers winter skiing, breathtaking woodland hikes in the summer and in spring, crocuses and violets peep out from amongst the volcanic debris.

Take an organised excursion along the volcanic cones dating back to the 2002 eruptions or hop on a cable car to 2,900m. 

From this point, it is a two to four-hour round trip to the summit craters with an experienced mountain guide. 

Alternatively 4WD jeeps are available from the Etna Nord departure point up to the observatory at 2,400m. 

Superb views of the north coast of Sicily and the volcanic offshore Aeolian islands can be seen from some of the craters.

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The Aeolian Islands are also home to some of the most active and interesting volcanoes in the world.

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Vulcano, believed by the ancients to be home to Vulcanus, the god of fire, is exactly as you would imagine a volcanic island to be. 

Although the island’s volcano is currently dormant, it is a great place to experience the bubbling mud baths, steaming fumaroles and hot springs that are characteristic of volcanic islands. 

Climb to the crater at Fossa di Vulcano for spectacular sea-views or enjoy natural jacuzzi pools in the hot springs on the beach of Acquacalda.

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From Vulcano, you can easily travel by boat to nearby Stromboli where the permanently active volcano, known as ‘The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’ experiences small explosive eruptions every 20-30 minutes, generating regular showers of sparks throughout the day.

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