Sunday, 26 October 2014

Volcanoes I have known ...

Speaking of active volcanos (see previous post) ... in a fit of madness, I once made a pledge to climb each of the eight mountainous volcanic Aeolian Islands off the north coast of Sicily.

A wonderful, evocative archipelago, the group consists of a loose assortment of mountains poking their heads out of the Mediterranean. They include the verdant Lipari; Vulcano, where you can immerse yourself in warm bubbling volcanic mud to cure your skin ailments, and the only continuously erupting volcano in Europe, Stromboli.

The eight islands have been created by the violent tectonic movement of the African continental crust against the European crust. Believe me, it's hot down there. Stromboli features in the climactic scenes of Jules Verne's 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth'.

After a night ascent of the 900 metre volcano, I bedded down on its rim with a group of Germans, to watch the gouts of ejected lava, a spectacular display of glowing scarlet that never ceased. The warmth attracted rats the size of guinea pigs, their silhouettes stark against the eruption as they leapt over my sleeping bag. The warm black volcanic sand made for a surprisingly soft mattress ... but for obvious reasons, sleep didn't come easily.

Stromboli - Europe's only continuously erupting volcano

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