Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Straits of Messina and Stromboli

We had a wonderful surprise in the afternoon after leaving Messina. The captain announced that we would be passing Stromboli, a volcanic island, with the first view about 3:15PM. At exactly the time specified we were able to see it clearly, with the top surrounded by low clouds. The island has an elevation of about 3000 feet above sea level, and rises 10,000 from the floor of the sea. The volcano is active, with a constant flow of lava. We were surprised at first to see that there are three villages on the island. However, as we passed close to the island it became clear why those villages could exist: the areas of lava flow are well delineated. The contrast between the green areas and the lava flow areas is great. There is agriculture on the island; they grow grapes, caper berries and wild asparagus.

As we passed the island it also became clear that the low-hanging clouds were actually clouds of steam rising from the center of the volcano and one of the vents on the volcanically active side of the island. And while we could not see the red glow of the hot lava, we could see clouds of steam hovering over the area, which indicated the presence of hot lava.

Another intriguing sight was the 43 meter high rock near the island, called Strombolacino (or something similar - not sure of the actual name). It looked as if it had trees growing on it, but it was too far distant to know for sure.

The first photo is of mainland Italy before we got near Stromboli.

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