Reading material for those who love the camping life

By: Tone Hasle and Finn Bjurvoll Hansen
Caravan and Caravan magazine, No. 1 February 2020

With Motorhome in Europe for a whole year - part 9

Tone and Finn Bjurvoll Hansen have spent a whole year in a motorhome. The trip has been all over Europe, and in each issue of Bobil and Caravan Magasinet they tell about their experiences. Here the story continues from the island of Sicily in the Mediterranean

The archeological park in the district of Neapolis

There was a lot of interesting history here. The park contains a large Greek theater from about 400 BC. which had room for 15000 spectators. Here it was in its time performances, sacrifices and various entertainment. Right behind the theater we find a depression in the landscape with a beautiful lush garden. Here you will also find a large cave (65 m high and 70 m deep) called Dionysus' ear (a Greek tyrant). There is a fantastic acoustics in there and it is said that the sound is amplified 16 times.

trapped

The cave was carved by hand during Greek / Roman times to be a water reservoir, but also has an eerie history. Here, 7500 Athenian soldiers were imprisoned to die.

This city can offer a lot of excitement, and a visit to Siracusa is definitely recommended. This city has a lot of history, architecture, nightlife, a modern center and an old center where it is nice to stroll around. It is beautifully situated by the sea and it is also possible to take a bath from the beach or the cliffs.

Snow in the height

From Siracusa it is a couple of hours drive to get to Etna Information Center. Here there is a motorhome parking that is located at an altitude of 2.000 meters. It has been good and warm during our entire stay in Sicily, but on the way up the mountain it eventually became snowy and thick fog. When we rolled into the Etna Information Center, it was no more than a few meters sight. It is not possible to get up to the volcano itself in such weather, so we decided to spend the night in the motorhome parking. For a short moment the fog lifted a bit so we got a little overview. Eventually we calmed down, and during the night we could still hear the explosions from the volcano up there in the mountains.

moon Landscape

The drive from the coast and up towards Etna is an experience in itself, and we drove through a typical lunar landscape where the lava has swallowed everything in its path. On one occasion we saw a house where the lava had covered everything except the roof which just stuck to the top. On the way up, the trip goes through several small villages located on the slopes up to the mountain itself. One wonders what it is like to live so close to an active volcano, because Etna is active. A visit to Sicily should include a visit to the volcano Etna. Getting all the way to the crater edge requires that you apply a long time in advance, so it was not relevant for us. We thought it was perfectly fine to stop at an altitude of 3.000 meters, about 350 meters below the volcano that rumbled and narrowed these narrow meters from us. A little scary and scary to be so close, but you world for an experience!

hike

The next morning we woke up to fantastic weather with clear and nice air and sparkling sun. It was just to have breakfast and get dressed for a trip up the mountain. A short walk from the car and to the cable car that would take us the next 500 meters up to 2.500 meters. From there we had to drive the last 400 meters, and from there we had to walk the last 100. The cable car with small gondolas and room for 6 people in each gondola was perhaps not one of the most modern, but did the trick to get us up the mountain. The last stretch of large "off-road" buses was also exciting, and eventually the view became absolutely incredible. At this height you are usually above the clouds, another fun experience.

Volcano up close

Look, look, look - explotio, shouted the bus driver. The smoke from the volcano changed from white to dark gray. "Not dangerous" he said, this happens many times a day. It simmers and boils all the time down in the crater, and small explosions are an everyday thing for the people who work up here. For those of us who are not used to that, it was actually a little scary. Eventually we arrived at the plateau where a guide was waiting for us. He had a lot of interesting things to tell, he chatted his way well accompanied by the bangs of the volcano.

Queen Etna

Etna is called the "queen" of European volcanoes because of its size and level of activity, and is in fact the volcano in the world that has the longest documented eruptions. Outbreaks have been documented dating back to 1.500 BC. Etna is also one of the world's most active volcanoes. She has caused major injuries, but is not considered to be particularly "dangerous" to humans. The lava is very viscous, which causes it to move slowly.

The height of Etna varies with the eruptions, and the highest measured is 3.350 meters in 1980. The height gradually decreased until 2004 when it was down to 3.315 meters. From March in 2004 until September in 2005, she had a major eruption which in turn increased the altitude to 3.350 meters.

ash Fast

Etna's last major eruption was on December 3, 2015, and the lava was sent about a kilometer into the air. The ash cloud rose during the eruption up to a height of 3 kilometers. The activity continued for a few days, and the ash cloud continued to rise to approx. 7 kilometers, which meant that the airport in Catania had to be closed, and many air passengers were left so-called ash-proof. If you are in Sicily, then Etna should be experienced. This is probably one of the most spectacular we have been to. We have both been on volcanic tours before, Lanzarote and Tenerife can boast volcanic excursions, but it is quite modest things compared to a trip to Etna. We have also been on a trip to the top of Mount Vesuvius, also quite spectacular. It also gives a little reminder of how powerful the forces of nature can be, and how small we really are. But…. now we travel further down to the coast and the heat again.

Back to the coast

After the spectacular experience we had on Mount Etna, we rolled down the mountain again, and ended up in the small town of Naxos which is located at the foot of the mountain. Here there is a cozy campsite, Camping Legani. There is probably a lot of life and excitement here in the summer, but there are a good number of restaurants and bars up now as well. The funny thing is that the first car we saw when we drove in the gate was Norwegian, and houses a musician from Drammen who has also fallen in love with Sicily, and who is overwintering for the third year.

New adventures

But now our stay in Sicily is over, we travel on to new adventures in mainland Italy before we turn our noses west towards Spain. We have made a small summary of why we can recommend a motorhome holiday in Sicily in the winter. For 3 weeks we have roamed around Sicily and fallen in love with this island. We've seen a lot, but there's a lot left! We did not know that there was so much history here, and what a nature! Lovely beaches, steep cliffs, lush and green, olive groves, citrus plantations and volcanoes! We will definitely be back!

7 Reasons to travel to Sicily on a motorhome holiday during the winter

Incredibly beautiful and beautiful scenery, beaches and sunsets. The climate is good in winter. Warm and good weather, Sicily is located at the same latitude as Tunis. We have had 1 day and a couple of nights with rain, - otherwise lovely Norwegian summer weather. Accommodation on motorhome pitches and camping is affordable. Short-term accommodation; between 13-19 euros, long-term rent for 200-300 euros per month. In the winter, it is allowed to free camp, and there are many beautiful beaches to choose from. Food and drink are generally cheaper than, for example, Spain. Pizza 5-7 euros.

Tourists are welcome

Good food, - pizza and pasta of course, hams, cheeses and much more. They have good ingredients - lots of great vegetables and fruits. The bread is very good and Cannelloni stuffed with ricotta cheese, - namnam. There is a lot to see and experience; ancient temples, archeological ruins, beautiful beaches, cliffs and exciting nature, cozy small towns, volcanoes, pottery, vineyards, boat trips, markets, churches etc. People are nice, helpful and friendly. Tourists are welcome as they of course leave money, and that comes in handy. Local farmers like to stop by the campsites to sell fruit and vegetables, olive oil, wine, cheese and other goodies.

Less good

Poor road standard. There are holes, bumps and dumps on the highway as well. Lots of rubbish. In picnic areas and other places where it is possible to dispose of rubbish. Very sad that this is so poorly organized and such a great lack of attitudes. Attempts at source sorting, but most people do not care much about the driving culture or lack of such. Here it is important to be aware. Rules and signs are mostly for decoration, each man makes his own rules and parks anywhere, - preferably double parking in the street if you are going into a store right there. Charming chaos and lots of use of the horn..even though no one reacts. Eventually you learn how to get there relatively safely, the main thing is to take it easy and not stress. The advantage, however, is that there is not much traffic on the roads, except in big cities like Palermo - which we drove right past.

 

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