Riposto and Etna (31st May to 4th June 2022).

We sailed, well motored, overnight to Riposto in very light winds. The lights of the Italian shore on our right. We had a brief visit from the Guardia Costeria with their bright searchlight blinding us, as they checked us out. Then they went off at a rate of knots without hailing us or anything. Looking for migrant smugglers we supposed.

As dawn crept up on my watch it became clear that the red smudge high up above the land was Etna with a lava flow.

We had several encounters with dolphins on the way across during the day but shipping was thankfully light.

As the day progressed Etna and its plume of smoke got bigger and bigger until we were safely berthed at the marina in the afternoon, with a ring side view of the new eruption as it got dark.

Approaching Sicily and Etna
In Riposto Marina
The lava flow at night

It didn’t take long to recover from our 2 hour watch routine so I walked up to town to get swordfish and Tuna steaks from the stalls on the road above the marina.

At the marina we met Lynn and Andrew from Coco de Mer with their friend Jan. We had met Lynn and Andrew before when we were all in Corfu and we were invited for a lovely drink on their Moody 376. Then we had our bbqed fish back on Vaila.

Paul had hatched a plan to go on the Circumetnea railway the next day and Lynn , Andrew and Jan were going to join us. The railway was built by a Cornish man, so Paul, being Cornish, thought it was very appropriate to check it out.

The train trip was a great experience. A very small train going north and then round the back of Etna, rising to 900 m at the highest point and ending in Catania. Amazing scenery and a lovely way to see this part of the world.

The small Circumetnea railway
Fertile land round the volcano
New houses oh so close to the old lava flow

We finished the trip in the city of Catania where we wandered around a bit, saw the old Odeon and had a lovely lunch, a delicious Gelato and then got the normal fast train back. The whole round trip on the train cost about €15 each. The trains were clean and the main route trains fast with good information both at the stations and on the train.

The old Odeon in Catania
Elephant statues and murals are all round Catania but no one seems quite sure why it seems to be a symbol of the city!

The following day we had another trip out, this time to the touristy town of Taormina north of Riposto. We again took the train which whisked us there in 15 minutes. The station had beautiful iron work and murals.

Inside Taormina station

We then took a taxi up the hairpin bends to get to the town on the hilltop.

The main attraction is the ancient theatre which is mostly Roman but based on a Greek one. It is perched high on the hill with a backdrop of Etna which is spectacular.

Coffee at Taormina
Just a small pot at the ancient amphitheatre
Etna as a backdrop
Our lunch stop

Paul went off to Catania airport on the 3rd June. Unfortunately he was delayed by 4 hours due to the Etna eruption.

Our friends Trina and Joe arrived on the 4th June but were also delayed, but this time by the general flight chaos. Its great to see them and they are helping us to take Vaila to Sardinia over the next few weeks.

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