The road has good asphalt without any potholes and is wide enough. However packed snow made it significantly more narrow. I planned my start for mid morning, with the intention to avoid people returning by cars and buses after celebrating New Year's Eve on Etna slopes. One corner after another, the asphalt slowly winds uphill. I occasionally meet the car coming down. Surprisingly, there are more people making their way up. Every now and then the drivers honk and give me thumbs-up. The lava fields are all covered under thick blanket of snow. Sky is blue and two T-shirts are more than enough to keep me warm.
After 52 minutes I arrive to Rifugio Sapienza. The parking is packed with cars, buses and tourists heading towards the funicular. Quick "photo session", gel lunch and gulp from the bottle. Covered 8.3 km on the way up, now it is almost 20km downhill to Nicolosi hiding somewhere in bulky clouds.
2014 can start now! Am ready!