|Rover on its way up Mt Etna. (Photo Simon Raven)|
The Raven brothers spark up their Rover 214 and head for Sicily in their quest to drive to the top of Mt Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
By Chris Raven
By Chris Raven
Our Mission: To drive up Mount Etna to Refugio Sapienza, elevation 6,500 feet.
Distance: UK-Sicily: 1908.95 km.
Vehicle: Rover 214 GSi, silver, bought for €200 in cash on eBay. Assembled at the Longbridge car plant in
Birmingham in the year the Iraqi forces invaded
and conquered .
Margaret Thatcher, the iron lady, resigned as UK Prime Minister. The movie
Dances with Wolves with Kevin Costner was a big hit and ‘I Wish It Would Rain
Down’ by Phil Collins was blaring out of every Pioneer LP turntable/record
player music station around the world. Yep, the car was born in the year 1990.
OK, so it was a rather old (almost a classic) vehicle, with fake wooden upholstery
and a well thought out coin tray for your loose change, genius idea. The seats
were comfy, music came out of the radio, it had an electric sunroof, electric
windows, and the brakes worked, which was important, the engine looked like a
proper engine and all of the four wheels rolled. What more did we need? Kuwait
|Mt Etna (Photo Simon Raven)|
Zipping through the protest-free streets of Reggio de Calabria - a town on the heel of Italy and home to the ‘Ndrangheta criminal organization’, who make money from drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering activities, we skidded onto the docks and purchased a ticket for the last ferry to Messina. With more staff than passengers aboard the vessel, we stepped out onto the deck and watched the sunset paint glorious flames across the Sicilian sky. Boats bound for
silhouetted in the distance and to our right we could see Mt Etna and a trail of
smoke bellowing out of the crater and streaking above the ocean in the direction of the mainland. Was she about to blow again? Malta
|Church of San Giuseppe, Taromina.|
(Photo Simon Raven)
Arriving at the perimeter of the Mt Etna National Park, we gazed up the small narrow road leading up into the dark clouds. It was a hot day, but the weather wasn't looking good. What was the worst that could happen I thought to myself? OK, so we were driving an old Rover with dodgy tracking and we had absolutely no survival equipment and zero knowledge of volcanoes. But so what? People have crossed deserts without the knowledge of, uh...sand. Crossed oceans without the knowledge of water and there we were agonizing over whether we should risk damaging our fragile car by driving up a little volcano. Then to our amazement a convoy of motor homes zoomed passed, followed by a small fiat with a pensioner sat hunched over the wheel. I turned to Si. "If they can do it, so can we!” I cried.
|Nearly at the top of Mt Etna. (Photo Chris Raven)|
It was a wonderful road trip to Sicily, but there was more to come. From volcanoes and Catacombs in Palermo to ancient Greek ruins, we were going to see it all. We had the whole of the Mediterranean to explore, and while we waited for the brakes to cool down and stop smoking I flicked open the road map and pointed to Seville in Spain. When you are on a road trip you have the freedom to go where ever you want to go, and we like that.