With its 3,357 meters, Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe and one of the most beautiful destinations to visit in Sicily! The city of Catania offers various organized tours to visit the volcano, a UNESCO heritage site since 2013.
The name of the volcano derives from the ancient Greek pronunciation of the word AITNA (“to burn”), changed in Roman times to AETNA.
This volcano was formed over the ages with a process of construction and destruction that began around 570,000 years ago and its eruptions continue to change the surrounding landscape, making it unique. On Etna it is possible to find vegetation capable of resisting its ferrous soil, such as endemic plants, and also widespread near the slopes of the volcano itself! Further downstream there are also cultivations by man, who takes advantage of the fertile soil due to volcanic debris.
A large part of the volcano is part of the Etna Natural Park, established in 1987 to promote and protect nature from mass tourism. Inside there are organized itineraries for excursions, sporting and recreational activities, refuges, camping areas and much more!
Places of interest
Among the marvels that can be admired on Etna there are undoubtedly the summit craters, reachable by cable car: the central crater, the north-east crater and the south-east crater.
Equally interesting are the Silvestri Craters, formed in 1892 due to a long eruption.
From the Citelli refuge, on the other hand, it is possible to start a path that leads to the Monti Sartorius, suitable for the less experienced and where it is possible to visit 7 craters, and Grotta del Gelo is a hidden wonder of Sicily, known for the perennial presence of ice that has been accumulating inside for over 300 years!
On the mountain there is also the Etna Museum, where there is also an entire section dedicated to the work done by volcanologists with their techniques for monitoring the activity of the volcano.
Numerous sporting activities can be carried out on Etna, both individually and with organized groups and associations.
Activities such as cycling, hiking, camping, a visit to the Butterfly House or the Etna Museum are individually recommended.
Thanks to the organizations it is possible to carry out excursions with different vehicles (quad, jeep, bicycle) or horses, trekking, yoga, canyoning and body rafting. At Ragalna there is Etnavventura, a park with acrobatic routes of varying difficulty for both adults and children!
In the winter months it is also possible to ski or snowboard, but also simply play in the snow!
Subject to sudden phenomena such as earthquakes and eruptions, over the years it has led to believe that it was inhabited by divinities and for this very reason sanctuaries and places of worship were built: the most famous of these is the sanctuary of the god Adranos and his thousand cirnechi, dogs belonging to a very ancient breed that derives from the dogs of the Egyptian Pharaohs.
Furthermore, in the Greek period it was thought that Hephaestus, the god of fire and blacksmith of the gods, lived inside the volcano and made weapons using the heat of the lava.
How to reach Mount Etna
Via the SP92, covering about 20 km of switchbacks until you reach the area of the Crateri Silvestri, after which the journey by car is prohibited. If you want to reach in winter, the use of snow chains is mandatory.
Taking the A18. exit at Gravina di Catania and follow the signs for Nicolosi-Etna Sud or exit at Giarre and continue towards Zafferana Etnea.
AST is the only public transport agency that allows you to reach Etna, starting from the central station of Catania and having the Rifugio Sapienza as your destination.
The journey takes approximately 2 hours, with only one journey in each direction: the outward journey at 8.15am and the return journey at 4.30pm. The ticket, which costs €6, can be purchased from authorized “AST” dealers from Monday to Saturday, while on Sunday it must be purchased on board.
On the mountain and on its slopes there are numerous refuges and farmhouses, thus allowing you to better enjoy your stay and try local products.