Mt Etna is one of the worlds most active volcanoes. It last erupted in 2008 and, according to our guide is overdue to erupt again. He took us up to the 2000 meter level and the scene is pretty impressive.

Huge lava flows have built up the landscape on the southern side of the mountain. The eruptions causing these flows have been occurring every 3-4 years

This tiny village was destroyed and re built several years ago, eight meters above it’s original location

Insurance is impossible for buildings on an active volcano, but the Sicilian government will pay up to 60% towards re building provided the business employs a certain number of people.

This guy gets around the problem by sitting outside in the freezing cold, carving and selling lava heads.

At the 2000 meter level there are several craters from previous eruptions.

We would have liked to have seen gushing lava and rocks being shot into the sky, but had to be satisfied with evidence of previous eruptions. The steam and strong smell of sulphur, according to our guide, indicates that an eruption is eminent.

Red foxes live up around the snow line on the mountain. This guy was coaxed out of the woods by some tasty Sicilian pastry.

At the foot of Mt Etna is the small town of  Nicolosi. It still shows evidence of earthquake damage caused by past eruptions.


After 36 hours sitting in planes, airport lounges, buses and taxis, we finally arrived in Sorrento. Unfortunately, we parted company with our luggage in Frankfurt. We were assured, in fractured English, by an overstressed baggage attendant at Naples airport that our bags would arrive in a couple of days. Fortunately she was right.

Sorrento is a busy little town, looking across the Bay of Naples to Mt Vesuvius.

It is a popular holiday destination and at peak season must be pretty hectic. The beaches are black volcanic sand and are mostly sectioned off and privately controlled.

For a few Euro you can hire a deck chair and a patch of sand, a few Euro more gets you a colored umbrella and with a hefty investment you can also secure a small, brightly colored change room. All very organised!

Mt Vesuvius dominates the landscape across the bay. This photo looks pretty exciting but the cloud is just a regular rain cloud, not a billowing  plume of volcanic ash.

Most of the shoreline around Sorrento is sheer cliffs of volcanic rock with buildings clinging precariously to the edge

As the sun sets into the Mediterranean, visitors flock to spectacular vantage points to photograph one another and drink Prosecco and Peroni.

Some of the Grand old Hotels are situated on the cliff tops, but have elevators to deliver guests to their little beach side annexes below.

Once on the beach, visitors have a variety of ocean going vessels at their disposal.

One of the great features of Sorrento is what must be one of the most extreme hairpin bends in the world. This ancient piece of road design explains why such a busy town has such short buses.

At the bottom of the hairpin bend the road loops around to bring you out at the port where swarms of commuters on motor scooters arrive early each morning to catch a ferry across the bay to Naples.

The regions rich, volcanic soil and mild climate grows amazing flowers and produces three crops of citrus fruit a year.

Scattered through Sorrento are numerous citrus orchards covered with lattice and shade cloth. They must be part of the towns tradition because, even with three pickings per year, there is no way the multi million Euro plots of land could even pay the land rates.

Cyclists in Sorrento dispense with helmets and reflective clothing and adopt a more sensible form of typically Italian bicycle safety.

Tomorrow our workshop group arrives and we will head of to some of the fantastic painting locations around the town.