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An excursion on the Etna is an experience unique in the world. The top ten of the things to do in Sicily once one in the life is to arrive till the summit. How much it costs?
Are you thinking about Sicily? You’ll be thinking for sure about Etna. One of the best experience you should plan if you will come here on my beautiful island is to climb the Etna. But it can become really expensive whether by yourself or with organised tours.
Here is my experience for an excursion totally safe.
Start: Rifugio Sapienza
Here we go! We get in the car till Rifugio “Giovanni Sapienza” following the local road “Provinciale 92”. Arrived at the refuge you can park the car (the ticket costs 6€ for the whole day) and start the adventure. Here already there’s a spectacular view of Catania and the plain all around and just next to the shelter you can visit the first group of Crateri Silvestri.
You can choose to start the trekking climbing to the top, dealing with a steep ascent, or to start with the cable car that gets you to the altitude of 2500m.
This time we’ve chosen to take the ride of the cable car, even to save some time. The return ticket costs 30€ and the last descent to come back is on 16:30. We make the ticket and depart, in a dozen minutes we arrive higher. Here starts the lunar landscape.
From here you can continue with jeeps (on payment) that take you to 3000m but we’ve chosen our legs this time!
Around us, we see only black sand that takes different colours descending from the slope of the craters. No more vegetation, just some little bush before to leave the cable car. Now, we are in the middle of a desert, a black desert!
Piano del Lago and Torre del Filosofo
The trail goes around a first crater “Monte Escrivà” on our right, while in front of us stands out against Her. The majestic peak I’ve always seen from my home, from the sea, or at least from the pine forest for some picnic.
We walk on the plain called “Piano del Lago” (literally: plain of the lake), once occupied by a little seasonal lake created by the melting of the snow. By now there’s no more trace of the lake after the eruption of 2001 that has set up “Monte Escrivà”.
Now we start to climb, on our right the amazing view of the “Valle del Bove” (literally: The Ox Valley) and over it all the coast till my home, Taormina. But it’s a really muggy day and the visibility is limited. Anyway, the show that is going on it’s incredible and I look to find the best way to tell it through my reflex.
After a 500m drop, we arrive at the feet of Torre del Filosofo. This is an area where also the jeeps stop and where start the excursions for the top craters. From here you can continue climbing only with specialized guides.
It is assumed that Torre del Filosofo was the dwelling place for Empedocles. According to the legend he wanted to demonstrate his immortality to the people. To reach his objective he falls onto the crater. After his crazy gesture, Etna wanted to have fun of him and spew his sandal.
We didn’t organise anything, then we’ve chosen to enjoy what the place had to show us without climbing till to the top. Then, we explore Crateri Barbagallo that are just next to Torre del Filosofo.
Sconti da non perdere!!
These craters were born with the eruption of 2002, one of the most impressive and destructive of the last years. I remember it so well, it let me gain a month without school. I still remember the fear that morning, after a night of earthquakes. I looked out of the window and saw a huge column of smoke that’s coming in the direction of my home. That moment I realized the power of Etna, that moment I met also her goodwill. Despite the enormous amount of damage in many villages, no one died.
Only when I am on the top of the crater I realize what has happened those days, and especially her power. I still remember the thunders that shattered windows and eardrums. If I would have described in a few words what I am seeing around I choose “Power and Majesty!”.
Here you are surrounded by colossal elements, in front of you are two huge mouths, two mountains that were formed in so few time. They are younger than you! Everything here, around you, is younger than you!
The Crateri Barbagallo take their name from an ancient family of guides. Since ‘800 this family, generation to generation, takes tourists to admire so many beauty. These craters free to visit, it’s possible to walk all their perimeter and enjoy a spectacular view (that day I could see from Taormina in the North, to Catania and over it in the South).
Here we consume our packed lunch, a lunch with a super view!
Behind me, groups of tourists continue to pass through making selfies, just 5 minutes and go away. Too bad for them!
I lay down on the slope and enjoy the show in front of my eyes!
Descending down a steep path we come back to the main trail and crossing it we go beyond towards the Valle del Bove.
Valle del Bove
Proceeding toward the edge of the plateau I see under me all the vastness of a valley that for centuries has swallowed eruptions of Etna. It’s in explicable the sensation you can feel by here. You can’t go further unless you want to fall down into the precipice.
In front of me there’s the beauty of Nature, one of that landscape you can look at for hours looking for to set any minimal detail. Like if your eye could have been the mirror of an imaginary reflex.
The Valle del Bove is a large basin situated on the eastern part of the volcano, formed 64.000 years ago by the collapse of the ancestors of Etna. This is a caldera 1 km deep and 5 km large with a surface of 37 km. While the body of the current Etna was formed 34.000 years ago.
We stop also here to look at the astonishment of nature. A valley that looks huge, defined by peaks that form a curve. It’s an ample cauldron where are collected historic and prehistoric eruptions. To go across it we would do another excursion, then this time we stop here and come back home with our eyes full of beauty.