Good morning on Wednesday 17th February; the morning after the night before when Mount Etna blew its top. The rollercoaster world of the Coronavirus continues its ups and downs with an increase in new cases yesterday: 10,386 compared to the 7,351 of the previous day, a rise of 3,035.
For those of you that are interested in statistics, the numbers of new cases reported on a weekly basis are incredibly stable. For example, the week from 10th to 16th February there were 84,347 new cases, the week before that 84,749 and the week before that 84,702. In fact, if you go back one more week to the 20th - 26th January, the number was 85,397.
The conclusion from those statistics is that Italy's pandemic has reached a plateau. On one hand, the new variants are creating new outbreaks while on the other, the steady process of the vaccination rollout is keeping those numbers stable. The big, nuclear weapon that Italy has in its arsenal is the warmer weather that's not far away now and should hopefully tip the balance to get us out of this.
In terms of today's weather, the usual suspects are present at either end of the scale with Turin the coldest city (4° Celsius) and the two major cities in Sicily sharing the accolade of warmest with both Palermo and Catania hitting the undizzying heights of 13° Celsius today. From north to south there's a good deal of sunshine around with some areas experiencing some cloudy spells.
Back to that big news from yesterday: Mount Etna erupted, hurling huge plumes of smoke and ash into the sky and spewing rivers of lava. The noise and energy created by the eruption is a real show of nature's strength and quite humbling in many ways. The volcano is one of Sicily's major tourist attractions and its summit can be reached via a combination of cable car and Shanks' pony (on-foot). The activity of the mountain is regularly monitored so it's rare that anyone gets caught out by a sudden eruption and its lunar landscape really is like another world, or another moon depending on how you want to look at it.
At 3,350 metres above sea level, Mount Etna can be seen from much of eastern Sicily. The major city close by is Catania while one of the most evocative places from which to view it is the Ancient Greek Theatre in Taormina. West of the volcano are some fascinating hill towns such as Gagliano Castelferrato and Agira, while to the south and closer to Catania are the historic Acireale and the seaside town of Aci Trezza with its Cyclops Islands (Isole Ciclopi).
There's no further news from the whodunnit on Capraia or sightings of the Puglia puma but who knows, maybe there will be tomorrow when I'm back with my next update. Some images from Mount Etna and the local area complete today's fayre.
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My name is Dion Protani, founder of Italy Review. The Italy Review blog is designed to provide ideas and inspiration to visit places in Italy you might not have heard about, as well those you have.