|We'll be somewhere in the middle of this view.|
We're going to Sicily later this year, and while my friend Fabio from Arezzo has alerted me to the presence of at least one fine specialty beer cafe in Catania, beer isn't the reason for the trip.
Speaking for myself and not my bride, motivations include renewing acquaintances with a childhood interest in volcanoes; visiting an island that's a distinct nation in itself; eating and drinking as locally as possible; and as an extension of thinking locally, beginning a process of widening horizons past my tendency to holiday exclusively amid beer culture.
There may be good beers in Sicily, but wine's the thing, and I intend to revel in it. Articles like this one help.
Etna Fumes and Spews, but the Winemaking Goes On, by Eric Asimov (New York Times)
... Working under an active volcano is a simple fact of life in the Etna wine region, like the lapping of the ocean in a beach town. Ordinarily, the 11,000-foot mountain is tranquil, snow-capped and gorgeous, even if it does regularly emit plumes of smoke.
It often spews ash or lava, which trickles to a stop high on the slopes, well above the vineyards, which top out at about 4,000 feet. But big eruptions are not infrequent. The most recent was last December.
Winemakers deal with natural hazards every day. Hail, drought and infestations threaten crops and may cause financial and cultural disasters. But a volcano can mean life or death.