Each excursion is tailor-made according to my guests’ wishes and expectations. Their physical conditions i.e. their fitness and their feelings about nature - particularly about climbing mountains - are indispensable ingredients and are always taken into consideration in order to make everybody fully enjoy the whole day of the excursion. Personally, I prefer slow walks where everybody gets the feeling of being part of the surroundings and is therefore willing to come back in future. That’s why I propose activities (walks) lasting from 1 to 6 hours - with explanations and historical details related to geology, botany, zoology, orienteering, ethnography and not last the relationship between the volcano and the inhabitants of the surrounding area. Walks requiring little effort are also foreseen for visitors not particularly trained or skilled in climbing mountains.
MAKE YOUR BIG DAY ON MOUNT ETNA BE THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR HOLIDAY IN SICILY!
A few words to make you fall in love with our mountain – one of the most active volcanoes on the Earth. Adjoining the eastern coast of the island, the mountain rises to 3.329 m in height prevailing over the province of Catania and beating out the rhythm of its inhabitants’ life through frequent and spectacular eruptions. Thanks to a continuous alternation between old and more recent lava flows and the lush vegetation growing on it, we can feel part of a peculiar scenery turning out either lunar or crawling with life at the same time. Etna is renowned for the unbelievable variety of its surprising landscapes resulting from a remarkable elevation, an extremely favourable latitude and an extraordinary fertility of the ground.
Its considerable height gives home to many plants in different zones: the coastal vegetation is composed of Mediterranean shrub and citrus groves; on the foothill slopes, mostly made up by man, the shrub is progressively replaced by cultivations such as vineyards and olive trees and at a higher altitude we can even find nuts and hazelnuts while the widespread semi-endemic broom fills the air with the intense perfume of its yellow flowers. Finally, on upland, endemic birches look like woods in northern Europe, while magical and dense beech woods make you forget you are visiting a volcano. Small bushes of birches and beeches reach up to the subalpine zone together with small plants resistant to extreme conditions such as frosts and thaws, movements of slopes and violent winds. The alpine zone is colonized by an endemic milk vetch, a spiky cushion plant hosting other smaller and weaker plants and dotted with endemic composite plants.
The so close to the African continent latitude and the proximity to the sea make the climate very favourable to vegetation and agriculture.
All the ejections of the volcano such as ashes, sands, lapillus (small stones), scoriae and volcanic bombs contain high-grade minerals, precious nutrients which make plants grow faster than usually expected.
The limit of access to the volcano always depends on its activity. It is possible to approach 3.000 m by cable car + 4x4 bus. Nevertheless, owing to the quite short stage and the rather monotonous desert landscape when going further 2200 m, an excursion in this area is not recommended as it does not do justice to this unique mountain’s variety of enjoyable alpine vegetation and scenery. The cable car is suggested, instead, if you want to reach the active top craters. To visit Mount Etna you can choose different trails and paths driving for instance from Nicolosi and Zafferana up to 1.950 m on the southern side, or from Milo and Linguaglossa up to the same height on the north-eastern flank without using 4x4 vehicles.
We usually meet in Zafferana Etnea - a small village on the eastern side of the mountain (600 m), where I live - at 9 a.m. and come back at 2 or 4 p.m. in accordance with the planned activities. If you like, you can drink a cup of coffee before leaving and also buy some food for a picnic. During the high season I personally prefer going the wilder north-eastern side of the mountain, which unlike the southern one (core of mass tourism), allows us to fully enjoy the environment in its wholeness.
I usually plan excursions ranging from 1700 to 2400 m.