Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 for its exceptional level of activity, cultural, scientific and educational importance, Sicily’s Mount Etna is the largest volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. Mount Etna, located on the south east part of the island formed about 35,000 years ago and first erupted in 1500BC. Ever since, the volcano has continued to erupt regularly and through its Strombolian kind of eruptions, producing ash, tephra and lava foundations it features a beautiful lunar landscape of black sand, volcanic rocks and oozing lava flows.
The ancient Greeks who used to control the island believed that this imposing volcano was home to the legendary one-eyed monster, Cyclops. Cyclops and the mountain were in fact featured in Homer’s “Odyssey” and played an important role in various myths as it was also believed to be home to Vulcan, the god of fire and metalworking and Typhon, a 100-headed monster. Today, Mount Etna represents an important part of Sicily’s topography, attracting travelers year round from across the globe. Featuring a number of volcanoes built of layers of lava flows, ash and blocks of un melted stone, Mount Etna is a series of volcanoes which are still quite active to this day. In 1669, a large eruption destroyed part of the port of Catania, located just below the volcano. Since then, smaller but rather violent eruptions have been pretty regular. Many travelers staying across the island of Sicily make a trip to hike up Mount Etna and experience the beautiful panorama across the Italian island. There are numerous accommodations nearby the area of Mount Etna: online websites such as Wishsicily for example display a vast array of villas all around Sicily which are available for rent, for both short and long period. This kind of accommodation is perfect for travelers wishing to hike the volcano as it gives them plenty of flexibility for organizing the hike as they please and according to their time schedule.
Travelers can visit Mount Etna year round. During the spring, summer and fall months, travelers can enjoy varying landscapes on the volcano, such as volcanic craters, barren fields of lava and swatches of wood and vineyards. During the winter, travelers will find snow covered craters and can ski down the snow covered slopes in The National Park’s tourism zones. Most trips up the mountain begin from the Rifugio Sapienza Mountain Hut, on the south side of the mountain. Here travelers can head up the volcano by food or cable car. As it is a wildly active volcano, it is important to always check weather and eruption conditions before beginning the hike, as sometimes public access to the top of the volcano may be prohibited for safety reasons. As the hike is carried out outside throughout the entire year, it is essential to always carry many layers and prepare for typically more extreme weather the higher up the mountain. It is also important to always protect the skin from sun, flying ash and dust as well as extreme wind. Sturdy tennis shoes and hiking boots are essential if hiking the mountain by foot and while there are a few restaurants and tourist points on the mountain, many travelers choose to bring their own lunch to enjoy a nice picnic.
This beautiful active volcano features a world renowned landscape, attracting the likes of travelers from across the world. In Sicily travelers will be able to not only enjoy the beautiful beaches, cities and landscapes this island has to offer, but also climb one of the largest volcanos in Europe and one of the most active in the world. Apart from hiking up the mountain, enjoying picnics on the solid lava and viewing breathtaking panoramas, travelers on Mount Etna will also have the wonderful chance to discover the unique treasure of the volcanic soil’s produce. As the volcanic soil surrounding the mountain is in fact extremely fertile, vineyards, apple, chestnut and hazelnut orchards grown on terraces cut into the lower slopes of the mountain. The local wine grown from the rich volcanic ash is an exquisite gem which can be tasted during a visit to Mount Etna.