Mt. Etna is an intermittently active volcano that put on a display for us as we hiked the cinder cones at its base.

Our hike crossed lava fields through a birch forest and summited an ashen cone. As we walked we could hear the remote booming from the volcano known as "breathing." It is a humbling experience to be near such a powerful natural event.

We did take comfort in reports that this volcano doesn't explode like Mount Vesuvius, but rather extrudes lava that slowly descends from its source. At night we witnessed eruptions that tossed car-sized lava bombs into the air like a giant roman candle.