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 cultivation such as vineyards and olive trees and at a higher altitude we can even find nuts and hazelnuts while the widespread broom fills the air with the intense perfume of its yellow flowers. Finally, on upland, birches and pines 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 sub alpine 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 weaker plants and dotted with other small 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 visit the active craters to the very top. To visit Mount Etna you can choose different trails and paths driving 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.
- I propose multi-day hikes with dinner and night in a lodge.
- It's possible to have breakfasts and snacks in pastry or herbalist's shops with local and traditional products or a wine tasting or a full lunch in a winery or a lodge.
- All the trails proposed are suitable for running, for a specific training before a competition or just for the fun of running on an active volcano.
1 SERRACOZZO TRAIL
Our trail starts at 1.700 m and goes up through a marvellous pine and birch wood. Going up the trees will get smaller and smaller to cope with hard conditions. During the whole walk we will enjoy the view on the north-east flank of Etna down to the Ionian Coast, Giarre and its harbour and the charmiming Taormina clinging to the mountain, South Italy and its rugged and wild mountains. This path reveals very interesting geological features, as old torrents of lava carved by the long and constant passage of water or a cave formed by one of the craters from 1971, the same activity giving birth to one of the active craters on top. The hard steep slope up will be undoubtely rewarded with the impressive view to the majestic Bove Valley together with the Top Craters. We go on walking along the noth-east ridge of Bove Valley up to 2.200 m, diving into another different landscape, where the spiky cushions of milkvech prevail. We go on walking along the noth-east ridge of Bove Valley up to 2.200 m, diving into another different landscape, where the spiky cushions of milkvech prevail and finally run down down on volcanic ashes.
- Max altitude: 2.200 m
- Timings: 3,5 / 4 h
2 THE 2002 CRATERS AND THE TIMPAROSSA BEACH WOOD
Our trail starts at 1.820 m, both the old and new touristic station of Piano Provenzana an the impressive theatre of the eruption from 2002. We will seize the spirit if the volcano together with its evolution visiting various secondary craters whose history is strictly connected to its inhabitants life, plants, animals and humans. The view will include the Top Craters, the Ionian Coast, Peloritani Mountains and Taormina, South Italy and its mountains, the Eolian archipel. We will walk through the volcanic desert, along the ridge of surprising secondary craters (1911, 1923 et 2002), we will breath the peace inside a wonderful beech wood, treasure of the north-east side of the volcano.
- Max altitude: 2.100 m
- Timings: 4 h
3 THE 2002 CRATERS
We will start from Piano Provenzana, a plane situated at 1.820 and the impressive scenary of the 2002 eruption: the old touristic station was completely covered changing the economy, the morphology and the tourisme of this side of Mount Etna. We will pass from the real volcanic desert, formed by the recent activity, to the islands of vegetation incredibly untouched and to the prairies composed by the small pioneer plants. The view will include the Top Craters, the Ionian Coast, Peloritani Mountains and Taormina, South Italy and its mountains.
- Max altitude: 2.100 m
- Timings: 2 h
4 SARTORIUS MOUNTAINS
Sartorius Mountains is an alignment of 7 craters formed in 1865 and situated approximately at 1700 m. An easy walk including all the most important elements of Mount Etna: a particular activity producing various lateral craters comparing to the continuous evolution of the Summit Craters; endemic, edible and medicinal plants colonizing the new lava fields. The trail starts in a charming wood composed by endemic birches and reaches the base of the craters. Visit only a part of them or make the complete tour.
- Max altitude: 1.667 m
- Timings: from 40 min. up to 2 h
1 SCHIENA DELL'ASINO TRAIL
Start from Zafferana Etnea with a stunning outlook to the Ionian Coast and the volcano and drive up to the southern flank of Etna. The chestnut woods, with hives producing a delicious honey, it's soon and abruptly replaced by the bushes of brooms, a semi-endemic and pioneer plant. Higher up the landscape is fully occupied by the lava field of 1792, which quite reached the town, gray from the coverage of a particular lichen. Start at 1.850 m, only five minutes away from the most touristy area of the Mountain, and discover the astonishing nature of the volcano: the Calabrian Pine will get smaller and smaller up to disappear replaced by the milk vetch, a spiky cushion stabilizing the slopes and hosting some weaker plants, together with endemic, edible and medicinal plants. The viewpoint at 2.000 m: Bove Valley and the Summit Craters together with their everlasting plume. Get a bit higher to observe some secondary craters and to experience an amazing downhill on the sandy slopes.
- Max altitude: 2.025 m
- Timings: 2 h