Mount Etna Eruptions Delight Wine Enthusiasts on Tours of Italy

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Mount Etna, on the Mediterranean Sea’s largest island of Sicily, recently erupted for the seventh time this year. Yet despite the dangers inherent in volcanic eruptions, Sicily’s wineries are reaping a harvest of phenomenal wines grown in the lava-enriched soil. Small group tours operator Olde Ipswich Tours offers guests on their tours of Italy the chance to walk upon one of the lower craters, as well as enjoy a wine-tasting lunch at a Mount Etna winery that produces DOC and IGT wines from grapes grown in the rich volcanic soil.

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Sicilian Winery with Mount Etna in Background

The combination of high altitude, rich volcanic soil and unpredictable weather culminate in the production of a unique terroir — and, therefore, unique flavor notes within the wines.

Last month Mount Etna erupted yet again. The highest active volcano in Europe, Mount Etna has erupted 25 times since the beginning of 2011, according to the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Catania. Though most eruptions are minor, every so often a major eruption results in lava flows that travel down from peak to base of this 10,922-foot mountain, devastating everything it touches.

Despite the inherent dangers and potential damage, all this volcanic activity does have a silver lining—or, better, a burgundy hue. The region around Mount Etna is a hotbed for wine producers. In fact, this area has become one of Italy's most exciting wine regions in the past 20 years or so. The combination of high altitude, rich volcanic soil and unpredictable weather culminate in the production of a unique terroir — and, therefore, unique flavor notes within the wines. It turns out Etna is producing explosive sights and delicious wines.

Small group tours operator Olde Ipswich Tours has been bringing clients to Sicily on tours of Italy for more than a decade and offers guests of the Rome, Amalfi Coast and Sicily tour a chance to discover the unique varietals produced by one of the area’s leading vineyards.

“The wine-tasting lunch that we include is one of the highlights of this tour,” says Vicki Parker, tour escort and planner for Olde Ipswich Tours. “Not only do guests get to experience several reds, whites and a grappa produced at the vineyard, owned by a baron, but they also get to dine on delicious olive oils, tapenades and pastas produced on-site. To top it off, the setting is absolutely stunning.”

The wine-tasting lunch always follows an exhilarating private guided visit with a local geologist to near the top of the volcano, where guests can walk on a dormant crater, feel the volcanic soil between their fingers and marvel how the hardy Sicilians continue to thrive on the slopes of this ever-active volcano.

“Sicily is unlike any other part of Italy,” says Parker. “Hardly anywhere else in the world is the convergence of so many cultures evident in the people, the food and the architecture of a place. Sicily truly is magnificent, which is why we think it’s important to offer people the opportunity to experience it on one of our small group tours.”

To find out more about Olde Ipswich Tours’ tours of Italy, including the Mount Etna region of Sicily, please visit http://ipswichtours.com/sicily_rome.html

Olde Ipswich Tours is a small group tours operator based in Ipswich, Massachusetts, specializing in culturally rich gourmet tours to Europe. For a complete list of upcoming small group tours, or to learn more about Olde Ipswich Tours, visit our website today.

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Jean Moss
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