Betulle Etnea – Wonderful Birch Forest

There are several horses ‘parked’ in Passopomo, with flexible arrangements as to how much Rosi takes care of them or their owners come and do the work themselves. Gianni is here almost every day to look after his horses and to his dismay, he sees us getting embroiled in the rubbish in the ravine. To create a balance and to show us that not every Sicilian has a careless attitude towards nature, he offers to take us on walks and to introduce us to what he calls his ‘amante’, Mount Etna.

Going on a trip with Gianni is a special treat. He is a lover of nature, of language and a bit of a philosopher too, and he has a lot of local knowledge. We spend a day in interesting conversation and admiring the beauty of the landscape. It is a very stormy day and the light up there is spectacular, with dramatic cloud formations and a double rainbow. At some point, the wind is so strong that Gianni advises not go to the top of a hill as we might be blown off. Frank only reluctantly heeds his advice – I’m glad to say he’s still with us.

The landscape is extraordinary. It is the most beautiful birch forest I have ever seen, which Gianni tells us is a type of birch that only grows here.


The colour contrasts of the black volcanic ground and the yellow grasses, the white birches and the dramatic skies make for incredible photos!

Please make yourself a cup of tea, sit down and click on our flikr album – make sure you put it on the slide show function!

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