Much of the early planning centred on going up Etna. No euphemism intended. Anyway today with clear sky a flat calm sea we headed inland to Etna Sud. You go up through lava flows some as young as 2001. And then reach a rather commercial district of tourist trinkets and fast food. Go past that get the cable car and the bus up as far as you can go. This is 2500m above sea level. To see steam coming from a live volcano that last erupted in May 2016 and deposited the ash on witch your walking is amazing. There is even a bit of snow buried under the ash from the spring just visible. There are a few flies and I guess that’s what the 2 black eared wheatear were after but they were the only birds.
In the woodland nuthatch and short toed treecreeper but no Sicilian long tailed tit . Have to come back this cop pice chestnut woodland is incredible. Fungi hunters coming out of the woods in battered Fiats and truffle hounds gave authenticity and we even got good information on Nesting Bonnelis eagle for next time.
We had sun all day but came down into cloud as we headed up the eastern side of the mountain to San Alfio to see the Hundred Horse Chestnut reputed to have been planted in Roman times it is a colossal beast of a coppiced sweet chestnut protected by a fence with its own viewing platform. It was surrounded by a communal nuttery. Further north to Linguaglossa and its vineyards took us through a green and pleasant land unexpected when we first saw the dry island two weeks ago.