When Frank Sinatra sang ‘Fly me to the Moon’ I am certain that it was not Mount Etna on his mind and yet this is the song that played in my head when I flew over Europe’s highest active volcano.
I arrive at the helipad a few minutes earlier than my flight was scheduled, and I am in time to see the helicopter land with its previous guests. The noise is huge, it’s an amplified base beat that jolts the heart and gets the adrenaline working… and well, yes, sends some of those wonderful tummy butterflies of exhilaration that make getting into a helicopter just that much more worth the ride!
I jump into my window seat and put on my headphones, which are noise eliminating but are also necessary to hear the pilot as he points out places of interest and answers any questions; (the headset is complete with a microphone).
The other guests on my flight are a family and the two small boys are allowed to sit in the front alongside the pilot, their excitement is evident!
Seatbelts fastened, headphones adjusted, the rotor whirring and off we go!
It is a breathtakingly beautiful day with a deep blue sky, which is in stunning contrast to the green vegetation surrounding the helipad. This is Castiglione di Sicilia and I have a bird’s eye view over the surrounding vineyards, olive and orange orchards, red and orange roofs, the thick green pine forests and then black, black volcanic sand.
From up here it is possible to view the river of black cutting through the pine forest, surrounding Piano Provenzana, Etna’s northern base. The black is the lava flow from the 2002 eruption.
I can locate the central crater because of the constant puffs of smoke emerging from it and on the way up there are some minor craters that look like giant ant nests.
Nothing, however, can prepare me for the sheer thrill of viewing the central crater from this hight. It is out of this world, something I may have seen in space movies. Big black craters filled with smoking hot lava while around the edges are sprinklings of yellowy, green Sulphur, dark maroon ferrous streaks and stark, precipitous, black sand dunes.
ARE YOU READY TO FLY TO THE MOON?
Take to the skies
& experience your own helicopter adventure!
Unique panoramic views over Etna‘s central crater, Taormina’s antique Amphitheatre, the Aeolian Islands, of Stromboli and Vulcano or even Agrigento’s Valley of Temples.
Enhance the experience with an Etna wine tasting, Jeep excursion, a cruise to discover Taormina’s secret bays or stop for lunch on the picturesque island of Panarea.