Etna is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is considered the world's eighth wonder. Etna is the beating heart of Sicily:majestic and unpredictable but also patient and fascinating, "U Mungibeddu" is a natural landmark that can be seen from practically every part of Sicily.
The summit craters, the paths to be discovered, the lava flows, the caves, the depression of the Bove Valley, the birch woods and many other attractions make Etna one of the favourite destinations for tourists from all over the world. But that's not all! It represents an entire site for the research and study of volcanology, geophysics and other Earth-related disciplines.
We suggest four itineraries to get to know ‘a muntagna’: there is something for everyone!
1 very simple and touristy, 2 intermediate, 1 demanding that can only be travelled with a guide (but nothing transcendental).
Visit to the Silvestri craters - Etna south
These are among the most visited craters because they are easily accessible, as they are located a few steps away from the Etna cableway and the Sapienza refuge - the reference tourist station on the south side of the volcano. The cones date back to the 1982 eruption, which lasted almost six months and covered about 7 kilometres, stopping just above Nicolosi at 970 metres above sea level. The route includes an hour of trekking around the cones, enjoying this spectacular eruptive theatre with breath-taking views of the Ionian Sea, Catania and Syracuse.
Difficulty: very easy
Travel time: about 1 hour
The “Schiena dell'Asino” path
The “Schiena dell’Asino” path is one of the most exciting itineraries, thanks to its many breath-taking views of the immense Valle del Bove and the summit craters, the Ionian coast and, on clear days, the coast of Calabria. The first section of the trail winds uphill through reforestation of Laricio pine trees then continues along a “plateau” and ends at a precipice overlooking the majestic Bove Valley. From here, the view of the summit craters and the valley is enchanting. The volcanic landscapes are the perfect setting for this classic Etnean route.
Length of the route: about 5 kilometres round trip
Difference in altitude: about 250 metres
Travel time: approx. 4 hours
Piano Provenzana: the 2002 craters
It is still possible to admire the power of Mother Nature and its effects on the landscape. We are on the northern side of Etna, the typically greener side and also known for hosting a ski resort that, thanks to the altitude and exposure, allows, in good seasons, to practice winter sports from January until early April. When the snow melts, and throughout the summer and autumn, an easy path allows one to visit the site of Etna's last significant "lateral eruption", the one that destroyed Piano Provenzana. In fact, on 27 October 2002, at the height of what was defined as the "perfect eruption" (simultaneous activity on both sides of Etna), an endless series of tremors heralded the opening of several fractures that caused magma to spill out with spectacular lava fountains, causing the tragic end of "old Piano Provenzana" and part of the Ragabo pine forest.
This is a slightly easier path than the previous one, about 2½ hours round trip, with a similar difference in altitude.
Length of the route: about 3 kilometres round trip
Difference in altitude: approx. 300/400 metres
Travel time: approx. 3 to 4 hours
Climbing Mount Etna's summit craters is undoubtedly the most spectacular excursion, one that you will not easily forget. Seeing all of Sicily from an altitude of 3330 metres is priceless. If the terrace from which you can admire the view is also an active crater, then the adrenaline rush is guaranteed. There are four summit craters: the North-East, which is the highest point at about 3330m; the Voragine and Bocca Nuova craters, which are once called the Central Crater; and, finally, the South-East crater, the most recently active. Mountain or volcanological guides are mandatory if you want to take this spectacular excursion; it is ordinarily possible to tackle the expedition from both sides (north and south). You can decide to reach an altitude of 2900 m by cable car and jeep, or you can tackle the entire climb from an altitude of 1900 m. Due to its type, height, and physical commitment, this excursion is recommended for moderately fit people.
For further information:: www.guidevulcanologicheetna.it
Etna, the eighth wonder of the world