e ran a news story recently about how
the erupting Mount Etna, in Sicily, is drawing tourists.
That might surprise some people, but not me. I'd love to be one
of those travelers who, upon hearing of a momentous occasion, takes
off to the destination to become part of it.
In the case of Etna, the event is even more intriguing for me,
since my mother's side of the family is from Sicily. They
immigrated here from the Palermo area in the early years of the
So, while I've always harbored a desire to visit Sicily, the
Etna eruption makes it even more enticing. The photos of lava
pouring down the side of the volcano are truly incredible. It gives
us a chance to stand in awe of nature, albeit from a safe
Local travel industry people who were quoted in our news report
said that lots of tourists are taking nighttime excursions to the
volcano. Some hotels are organizing excursions, trying to use the
expression of nature to its fullest commercial advantage.
As one hotelier put it: "I am sorry for the little towns up near
Etna, but to tell the truth, for us this is good business."
The Italian Government Tourist Office in New York reported that,
since the eruption began, there's been a spike in requests for
reservations in Sicily. Some operators who specialize in Italy and
Sicily said they are altering their current itineraries to enable
clients to see the volcano.
Even Mr. Italy himself, Mario Perillo, told us that his company,
Perillo Tours, is considering incorporating Etna more prominently
in its tours.
"If it continues until we write our 2002 brochure," he said, "we
may add a new picture or two to illustrate the glory of Etna."
Scientists tell us that, indeed, the lava flow could continue
for weeks or months. If it looks like it will go on for a while, I
just might jump on a plane and go see it for myself -- along with a
little side trip to Palermo.
Donna Tunney is executive editor of Travel Weekly, Travel
Weekly Crossroads and Travel Management Daily.