The following morning we were at port in Messina, Sicily. The excursion that we chose was to go to Taormina and Mt. Etna. In Taormina, we were able to admire the views of the coast and Mt. Etna from a distance. We toured the Greek Theater, which is known for its width and unique acoustic effects...we had some fun there as you will see in the pictures. Then we did some shopping and strolling through the streets of Taormina.
Afterward, we enjoyed a lunch in Catania, which is a town that was almost destroyed by the lava flow of Etna due to the fact that it is situated at the base of Mt. Etna. There is a picture that I took from the balcony of the restaurant where you can see how close the lava actually came to the town in the past.
Then we rode a motor coach to 6200 feet up Mt. Etna to the Silvestri Craters and the impressive 1983 lava flow. John and I successfully made it to the top of the crater (John had some trouble getting up there - swimming recently has paid off for me!). The views from the top were amazing! The worst part was the wind - I was seriously afraid that I was going to be pushed off the top by the strong gusts of wind. Then, for as easy as a time that I had getting up there - getting back down was a challenge for me - it was so steep that you could have easily just tumbled the whole way down, but I made it!
Finally, we traveled back down the mountain, saw some current lava action, drove through Messina, and headed back to the ship.
Here are the pictures from Taormina and Mt. Etna: