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Volcanic Activity in Catania

Hi Everyone!
I haven't posted for awhile but try to keep up when I have the time. Usually I post about packing for women, not seismic activity. We are on the Sicily tour starting February 12 and I'm just wondering what may be the best way to get back to Rome from Catania if the mountain hasn't calmed down. I know the RS staff does their best in natural disaster situations, but if anyone on here (and I know you're here) has experience in managing a situation like this, I would appreciate your experience. If you even think about laughing about this post I will haunt you forever. Happy Holidays!

Posted by
4131 posts


I'm just wondering what may be the best way to get back to Rome from Catania if the mountain hasn't calmed down.

You could always plan to fly out Palermo ; )

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
1039 posts

We've been watching the news and recall a similar event prior to our tour of Sicily. We went in the month of September and while in Taormina there was snow on the top of Etna. Fotunately 2 days later the snow was gone and we were walking on the top of the mighty Etna. Worse case scenario- fly out of Palermo or better yet head south! Have a wonderful time! Happy New Year!

Posted by
2595 posts

If you visit Adventures with Sarah on Facebook (a RS guide who does tours to Sicily), she has some info of the volcano. There is more on FB, but this was her summary:
Reality Check
A note about the eruption and earthquake in Sicily: don’t believe everything you read. Sicily is fine. No deaths reported, and isolated damage. Etna erupts regularly, this is not weird. This particular eruption was a flank or side eruption (hasn’t happened for 10 years) but was not in a populated area and hasn’t endangered anyone. And there is NO connection between Krakatoa and Etna eruptions!

Posted by
3935 posts

So, more specifically, does anyone have experience with how airlines (esp Alitalia) respond to airport closures due to active volcano situations? That is, do they proactively work to rebook flights at no extra cost, redirect flights to/from Palermo, notify booked passengers, etc., or do they do a shoulder shrug? The airport in Catania was closed I believe for at least a day, and could happen again.

Its not an issue of fear, its how it impacts the tour and logistics. Rebooking flights is not an inexpensive proposition.

liz, there's also the train.

Posted by
132 posts

Thanks, Stan, for chiming in. You are correct when you say it is not about fear but about logistics. This is why we book several days before our tours (this time in Rome and Palermo,) and extend several days after (Catania.) It isn't only to see more but to also give us some flexibility if we are faced with events like this. It never hurts to learn about alternative transportation possibilities and have a back up plan.

Posted by
12269 posts

Before my trip to Sicily about 5 years ago, I learned that Etna spews ash every now and then and that often closes the Catania airport for hours to days. There's no way to predict if and when it will happen. It's not frequent but not unusual. I booked a flight out of Catania, but I was going to the mainland for another 9 days, so I was willing to take the chance - since it would just mean spending my time in a different part of Italy than I'd planned. If you are planning to connect to a US flight, consider flying out of Palermo.

Posted by
132 posts

Thanks for the information, Chani. I always enjoy reading your comments on the forum. I was thinking more about this today in regards to how frequently our Minneapolis/St Paul airport closes due to blizzard conditions - not very often, but it does happen. Is it inconvenient? Sure it is, but if the pilots can't see and the runways are too icy the MAC is making the right decision for the safety of their passengers. The principle is the same here. We have options and I will continue to explore them in the coming weeks.