Under the volcano: a tour of Etna and north-east Sicily

The famous mountain dominates the region but its small towns, food and festivals are just as captivating for a family trip

The little girl, dressed in a yellow satin robe, stepped on to a crane and waved at the crowd below as she was hoisted on high. The crane stopped 20 metres above the ground and the child was helped on to a metal seat on the side of a towering float topped with a crown and a cross. There she perched, a human decoration shining in the August heat, held in place just by a bar around her waist. The crane slowly descended to pick up another child.

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