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Post from 11/08/2012

Adventure Mount Etna

Situated on the north eastern coast of Sicily Mount Etna keeps on enticing tourists with the spectacle of eruptions – particularly at night time. The red shimmering lava can especially be observed and photographed in darkness. Although Mount Etna is with 3,350 metres the highest and most active volcano in Europe you don’t need to be worried that a vacation on the god of fire will turn into a precarious dance on a volcano. Get to know extraordinary hiking routes, fertile landscape and the might of nature. Many holiday homes are the ideal starting point to explore this area and are situated directly on the slope of the volcano.

Guided tours to the central crater – Highest viewpoint of the volcano

Hiking route on Mount Etna
Hiking route on Mount Etna

Throughout the year there are daily guided hikes up to Mount Etna. One of the most popular tours is up to the central crater which is the highest viewpoint of the volcano. It is best you take a car in order to get to the summit station. You can drive up to a height of 1,900 metres where “Rifugio Sapienza” will be the starting point of your tour. The cable car station is located here that will take you up to greater heights. Before you commence on this fantastic tour you should pay a visit to “Crateri Silvestri”– Silverstri crater – the two biggest side craters which were formed in 1892.

The cable car will finally take you to the viewpoint “La Montagnola”. From here one goes further on in special off-road vehicles to “Torre del Folisofo” - the “Philosophers Tower”. An experienced English speaking guide will accompany you on the tour. The motto of a Mount Etna mountain guide is: „The mountain is in our hearts and soul. We know all the secrets of the mountain and will make you aware of them one by one”. The total duration of the trip with the cable car will be around two and a half hours.

Hike to the ice caves

One of the most well known and beautiful lava caves is the “Grotta del Gelo” which translates to the ice cave. In order to get to the cave you need to be in good form as the tour takes around three hours. It is a challenging hike that especially requires sure footedness. The tour goes across rough lava paths and finally through a part of the mountain forest of the volcano. This unique hike is very much suited to individuals and smaller groups with an experienced tour guide accompanying you on this adventure. With special crampons you will climb into the cave and reach the small glacier. Afterwards you will continue on along a path to the north eastern crevasse at a lower altitude. You will hike at a height of around 1,600 to 1,900 metres and finally reach the lovely chestnut, birch and pine forests of Mount Etna. The excursion starts and ends on the southern side of Mount Etna at the cable car station “Rifugio La Sapienza”.

Carline Thistle in nature reserve
Carline Thistle in nature reserve

Hike to Parco dell'Etna

The nature reserve “Parco dell'Etna” is the perfect place for hiking and mountain biking in spring and summer time. No mountain guide is required here. The largest nature reserve on the volcano covers an area of about 59.000 hectares. The park is divided into different zones and wheat, citrus fruits, olives, figs and grapes grow here. During spring the entire landscape is transformed into a sea of flowers.

Overnight accommodation on Mount Etna

An overnight stay at the slopes of Mount Etna is a special experience for many vacationers. On the eastern slope of the volcano you will come across the town Sant'Alfio famous for its “chestnut tree of hundred horses” which is thousands of year old tree. Here we recommend a holiday home made of lava stone with a lovely panoramic view. Equally attractive is also a renovated holiday apartment in country style with a fireplace. For this object we also provide a virtual tour. Take a stroll through the apartment and see the floor plan as if you were actually there.

Travel tips – Best season and hiking equipment

The best time for a tour of Mount Etna is the spring. During this time of the year the volcano is especially fascinating. The beautiful carline thistles blossom, the black lava stones gleam in gold shades and the colourful butterflies fly around and are a companion on your hike through the nature. At a height of 2,500 metres it is quite windy: Windbreaker, pullover and firm walking boots are essential things that one should not forget to bring along!

What else you can do on and around Sicily

Around Mount Etna you will of course find many other sights and towns that are worth visiting.

Gole dell’Alcantara
The “Gole dell' Alcantara” are gorges at river Alcantara. They are situated between Taormina, Giardini Naxos and Randazzo. The gorges have been created over centuries from the lava streams coming from Mount Etna.

Taormina is located on the eastern coast of Sicily. Particularly the antique theatre with views towards Mount Etna and the Gulf of Giardini Naxos is worth visiting. Nowadays many ancient tragedies and comedies are performed here.

Catania is a baroque town at the foot of Mount Etna. In the town centre you will find the Roman amphitheatre, the Elephant Fountain opposite the cathedral, the Castello Ursino established by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century, Teatro Massimo Bellini and Villa Bellini which are dedicated to the operatic composer Vincenzo Bellini and many baroque style churches as well as the famous “La Collegiata”.

Aeolian Islands
The Aeolian Islands offer beautiful and unique beaches. From the small port town of Milazzo you can reach the Aeolian Islands with a ferry. They are between 30 and 80 kilometres off the northern coast of Scilly in the Tyrrhenian Sea.