National Geographic : 1955 Jan
26 Protected by Ash, a Natural Icebox Survives the Sun on Etna's Volcanic Flank In winter snows lie in a deep mantle on Etna's cone; they linger even on the lips of steaming vents. This cool bank stands not far below the main crater, which is hidden by the rise at upper left. Villagers climb to its face to hack out donkeyloads of snow, which they sell to makers of Sicily's ices. Before the days of mechanical refrigeration, certain Sicilian nobles inherited the right to exploit Etna's snows and sulphur. From Messina in 1943 British and Canadian troops, after driving the Germans from the city, were the first of the Allies to set foot on the mainland of Italy. Some crossed over, prosaically, by ferry.* I wanted to see the peculiar form of sword fishing practiced in the Strait of Messina, so I drove northward along the beach, pass ing through towns with wonderful names like Paradise and Peace to Ganzirri. From April through August the black-hulled swordfishing boats are strung like sentinels along the shores of Messina (pages 2 and 20). They anchor close to shore at 20 stations, which are allocated by the Captain of the Port at the beginning of each season. The stations have such names as Prince, Fountain, Breast, Beautiful, Dirty, Saint Agatha, and Grotto, and are rotated among the fleet. On the station a big boat, the feluca, with a disproportionately tall mast, serves as a * See "Sicily Again in the Path of War," by May nard Owen Williams, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA ZINE, September, 1943.