Certain places are undoubtedly the most magical on the planet. Even though Mount Etna looks hellish inside, it can be said that the outside is closer to Paradise.” (P. Brydone).
Mount Etna is Europe’s highest active volcano and the largest in Europe. The entire region is overlooked by its impressive size (more than 3327m high and an average basal diameter of 40 km). The region’s volcanic activity and fiery lava flows have attracted scientists from around the globe.
For its geological peculiarities and planetary relevance, 2013 Mount Etna has been included in the Unesco World Heritage List
Its first eruptions took place in the Ionian region, 570,000 years ago. This was long before Etna, as we know, was formed.
Over the centuries, several collapses have interrupted the construction of the volcano edifice.
The current Valle del Bove was created 9200 years ago. It is a result of Etna’s collapsing phase. This includes most of the volcanic history. The summit area today consists of four summit craters: the Central one; the West Chasm (or Bocca nuova); the North subterminal and Southeast subterminal.
There is much evidence that Volcano eruptions occurred starting in the classical period. We can recall the 1669 eruption which formed the Monti Rossi and reached Catania, and the 1928 eruption that reached Mascali.
One of the most closely monitored volcanoes is Etna. It is also known as Mongibello.
All the latest information on volcanic activity can be found on the section website.
This volcano is a popular spot for hikers looking to visit the active volcanic areas. In winter, it offers the unique opportunity to practice snow sports just a few minutes from the ocean.
You can climb the hiking trails along the nature paths in Etna. These routes are surrounded by trees and verdant orchards. The views from the top of the mountain ranges include lunar landscapes, caves, active fumaroles, and ancient lava flows.
The volcanic activity creates beautiful lunar landscapes that are interwoven with rare natural environments. The huge rivers that flow around the Volcano (the Alcantara in the north) and its natural canyon of Alcantara Gorges to the West have been modeled after the Etna lava, creating stunning natural environments.
Due to its varied altitude and exposure, Etna has a high biodiversity. There is a rich Mediterranean scrubland, numerous wood species, and birches with clear bark. Evidence of ancient glaciations can be seen, as well as oaks, pines, brooms from Etna, and chestnut trees. The Hundred Horses Chestnut is the largest and oldest tree in Europe. It was awarded the title UNESCO Messenger Of Peace.
Many sporting activities can be done on Mount Etna, including cross-country and downhill skiing, trekking, paragliding, paragliding and horseback riding.
Piazzale Rifugio Sapienza in Nicolosi (Southern Side Etna) or Piano Provenzana– Linguaglossa on the Northern side, provide lifts to the red and blue ski runs. Nordic skiing is available to those who prefer it. Natural routes can be found by the Etna park Authority, the Forest service at Piano Vettore and Piano Provenzana (Linguaglossa), and in the Maletto area.
The trip to the craters is the most popular activity. It can be safely done with expert guides and the appropriate clothing. Even in summer, you should wear trekking shoes, trainers, and windjackets.
You can access the areas close to the summit from S and North sides of Mount Etna.
Both offer amazing ways to climb to the main crater.
Southern Face – Nicolosi Side
Starting point: Piazzale Rifugio Sapienza (20 km far from Nicolosi)
Ascent by cable car or special off-road buses + trekking (tour organized by the Co. Funivia dell’Etna Spa).
South Etna Alpine Guides Group Piazza Vittorio Emanuele , 43 – Nicolosi
Northern face – Linguaglossa Side
Start point: Piano Provenzana, 19 km from Linguaglossa. Special off-road buses and guided trekking are available (organized by Etna Discovery).
Alpine Guide Etna North Piazza Attilio Castrogiovanni, 19 – Linguaglossa
Etna North Alpine Guide Group Piazza Attilio Castrogiovanni, 19 – Linguaglossa
You can visit the lava flows caves with expert speleological guides. Grotta del Gelo is one of the most well-known caves. Here we can find the southernmost glacier Europe, Grotta dei Lamponi (Grotta dei Ladroni), and Grotta Serracozzo.
It is possible to trek throughout the year and explore itineraries that are suitable for both beginners and experts.
Winter snowshoe hiking is organized by both sport companies and Etna park within the normal winter trekking program. It’s a unique experience to snowshoe on Mount Etna. What’s more thrilling than the incredible spectacle of the blue Ionian ocean under you and the sound of a rumbling volcano below?
Ski climbing excursions on Etna can be done when the snow is covered.
There are many routes for mountain biking. The Pista Altomontana is one of the most well-known. It starts at Piano Vettore, south of the volcano, and continues up the western side to Ragabo Pinewood near Piano Provenzana to the north.
It’s great to ride a donkey on Etna’s trails! You can take donkey rides to explore the beauty of this mountain with docile, loyal donkeys. The horseback tour is led by experts and organized by different equestrian organizations.
We recommend the railway tour taken by Circumetneatrains. They depart from Catania- Stazione Borgo, arriving in Riposto.
Let’s explore the most stunning wineries and gastronomic delights by Etna wines train. Also, discover beautiful landscapes in the area by riding the Two Wheeled Train or other interesting itineraries.
For star-gazers and Vault of Heaven lovers, it is a must to visit the Astrophysical Observatory at Ragalna in Contrada Serra La Nave during the summer months of June to September. Reservations are required.
Monte Serra Park is a great place to take your family, friends, or even school groups. It also offers the Butterflies house, many trails, ski slopes, picnic areas and bike trails.
Belpasso’s Etnaland Fan Park offers an unforgettable experience. It features a Water Park with amazing attractions, Prehistoric and Theme Parks, as well as AVR (Augmented Virtual Reality) experiences.
The adventure park of Nicolosi, Ragalna and Milo are for those who love to be outdoors and challenge the laws of gravity. These paths, suspended between rocks and high-growing trees, offer a variety of difficulty levels that are suitable for both children and adults.
Finally, the New Gussonea Botanical Garden is located in Contrada Serra La Nave on the south side of Etna. It covers more than 10 ha and contains many botanical species of Etna Flora. You can only visit it with expert guides.
Large areas of the Etna region, except for the summit areas are dedicated to agriculture and wine production. The north-western side is home to the cultivation of the green piscachio of Bronte. This PDO product is also known for its numerous and varied confectionery products.
Orchards are common, mostly in the regions of Ragalna and Pedara. The production of PDO oil is mainly concentrated in the area of S. Maria di Licodia, Biancavilla, Belpasso and Ragalna. The honey, the traditional biscuits called skiers, are available in Zafferana Etnea. Also, the Zeppole (or rice crispelle) is widely available.
It is also a mountain area, so there are many mushrooms. These mushrooms are a main ingredient in many traditional dishes like the salsicce (sausages made on oak wood).
It is also notable for its wine production: The Etna Vine Route runs from the north to Randazzo and ends at Piedimonte Etneo, on the south-eastern side. You can find many wine cellars in the area where you can enjoy good Etna wine with typical local products.