I've walked on the Camino de Santiago in Spain and the Via Francigena in Italy. In March 2013, I walked the Hadrian's Wall Path across England. I hike often in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near our home in Tennessee. With my twin adult daughters along, I wanted more than just a casual encounter with Mount Etna on their first trip to Italy and my first trip to Sicily. Marco made our volcano visit magnificent.
Marco was punctual, professional and compassionate. His tour took us off the beaten path where he showed us the magic of genestra, the broom that breaks the hardened lava fields and allows pines and other plants to follow. We saw old homesites (like in our Great Smoky Mountains National Park) and lava-rock walls built by "settlers." He helped us see lava flows from various eruptions, identifying them by color and texture.
When one of my daughters became nauseous, he went out of his way to make her comfortable, helping her enjoy the day even though she wasn't feeling the best. The picnic lunch he served at the national park was outstanding, allowing my daughters to experience breads, cheeses and Sicilian vegetable treats they had never seen before. His coup de grace was showing us the vast "lava valley" left by the implosion of the "second Etna."
Marco personable but always "on," teaching, explaining, exploring and engaging, his professionalism lasting the whole, long full-day tour. I've a signature mountain in the Smokies - Mt LeConte - that is "my" mountain, one I know and love. Etna is Marco's mountain, one he knows and loves and caused us to love too.
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