Mount Etna

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Mount Etna is a 3323m high active volcano in Sicily, Italy.

Understand[edit]

The mountain has an eerie volcanic landscape, with solidifed "rivers" of lava. It is used for skiing in winter, so be prepared for the cold at this altitude, even in summer. Even in good weather in summer, sometimes the top of the mountain is covered in cloud, especially during the afternoon, obscuring the wonderful views.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

One bus a day runs to and from Catania to Rifugio Sapienza about 1400m below the summit on the south side, giving you enough time for a trip up the mountain and a wander. The bus leaves at 8.15 am from outside Catania train station. The bus stops at stop number 15 which is next to the area served by local buses. Tickets for the bus are sold on board (4 eur one way, 6.60 eur same day return). The bus is a white coach with AMT written down the side. The return bus leaves Rifugio Sapienza punctually at 4.30 pm - don't miss it, there are no other options to get down.

By tour bus[edit]

Many agencies in Taormina offer organised trips to and around the mountain.

Tours can also be arranged by contacting: the Parco Regionale dell'Etna, Via Etnea 107, Nicolosi, tel: +39 095 914588.

Get around[edit]

There are 2 ways to get around on Mount Etna:

1) From Rifugio Sapienza (Etna south) during good weather, you can pay for a trip on a 4-wheel-drive vehicle + cable car (expensive at 63€ A/R but they have discount agreements with some close hotels) about 800m nearer the top (to walk is about 4-5 hrs round trip and 1,000 meters elevation). In bad weather, walking is the only option, but be prepared for freezing weather.

The cable car runs from Rifugio Sapienza (1900m) to 2500m. its 30E return (August 2016). There is also a path just behind the cable car station if you want to walk . It takes around 2 hours to walk up from 1900 to 2500m. From the top cable car station you can then go in a 4x4 (33E), but if you are even moderately fit it is not worth it: The beautiful hike from the top of the cable car to Torre del Filosofo (2920m), is fairly straightforward, and takes about an hour (~2.7km one way, 400m elevation gain). You can either follow the road, or more interestingly, there are some more direct paths.

Be prepared for some disinformation when asking about hiking options, especially when there is a conflict of interest in selling tours. The hike is moderate at most, you may be told it is steep or even dangerous. Not true. The hike between Rifugio and Torre Filosofo is a slog, but straightforward enough. Taking the cable car, the hike from the top of the cable car is little more than a walk, and kids as young as 4 were successfully doing it. Beyond Torre Sapienza, to hike up to the crater you will need a guide, available at the 2,900m ranger station, and the cost is 25 euros per person. The hike is an extra ~4 hours round trip.

Another good option is to get a guided tour with an electric mountain bike near the base of the cable car, which is 85 euros to the summit at 3,340m. They also have electric and non-electric mountain bikes for rent to explore the area.

2) From Piano Provenzana (Etna north) by walking to arrive on the summit Crater. This is a beautiful tour because it's possible to admire forests and lava sceneries.

See[edit][add listing]

  • The solidified rivers of lava.
  • The great views.
  • Many entertainers on the sides of the roads. for example, artists, singers, and photographers. *The many Mini-shops along the side walks, the old fashioned houses and restaurants, and the locals that live there.
  • Novara di Sicilia - Located in the provence of Messina on the northern side of Mt. Etna, this picturesque medieval town is nestled in the mountains overlooking ancient Tyndaris and Abacaenum. It is the archetype of a typical medieval town, with its friendly and accommodating people who speak a distinctive dialect.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • If you're fit and adventurous, check out the possibility of a guided climb of Etna. Gruppo Guide Alpine Etna Sud, Via Etnea 49 (Nicolosi), +39 095 7914755, [1] (not all pages have been translated to English as of July 2008), is the guide service applicable for ascents from Sapienza. The guides' English can be a bit hit or miss, but they know vastly more about conditions on the mountain than anyone else, and have by far the best understanding of what's safe and interesting. Climbing to the summit without a guide isn't just prohibited, it's foolhardy, even if you're a capable hiker in more conventional surroundings.
  • A vintage self drive excursion or a themed tour on a classic Fiat 500, starting from Taormina and Giardini Naxos area. The most popular excursions are themed on the Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather movie and on the Etna Wines Road. You can reach amazing villages like Savoca, Forza D’Agrò and Taormina.500 Vintage Tour - Classic car hire & tours - Taormina - Phone +393497234906 - Email: info@500vintagetour.com - Website: 500 Vintage Tour

Buy[edit][add listing]

There are lots of souvenir shops around Rifugio Sapienza.

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are several cafes / restaurants around Rifugio Sapienza.

The top of the cable car station also has food, with unsurprisingly high prices given the altitude (capuccino e3.5 panini e5).

Drink[edit][add listing]

You can buy many hot chocolates to warm up your bones. Also on colder months, as you go up Mt. Etna you will find several shops and there you can buy the drink, "Fuoco dell'Etna" which is a liqueur which will definitely keep you warm as you hike up. It will get very cold.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

You can sleep in Rifugio Sapienza itself.


  • Hotel Corsaro Etna Sud, Sapienza, +39 095 914122, [2]. A ski-lodge-like hotel that advertises itself as the "highest" lodging on Etna, referring to elevation, not price. 17 rooms, restaurant. Within easy walking distance of the lower funicular terminal.
  • There is a youth hostel about 15km away in Nicolosi.
  • Etnalodge [3] at the North East foothills of Mount Etna active volcano offers in a charming environment (an ancient wine producing estate renovated as a lodge)rooms B&B. Terrific view, 500 meters above sea level in the countryside.
  • Camping Etna, Via Goethe, 095/914309. is also in Nicolosi, in a pine forest a few kilometers up Etna from the village itself. It has a swimming pool and is well shaded. There's little grass though.  edit
  • La Rena Rossa B&B Etna-Nicolosi, B&B Etna, +39 333 8628703, [4]. The Bed and Breakfast La Rena Rossa has a quiet and sunny position, and it is surrounded by a wide garden.
  • Mareneve Resort, Via Mareneve 63, Linguglossa, +39 095 643379, [5]. Right outside the north side of Parco dell'Etna.  edit
  • La Terrazza dell'Etna, Via Alcide de Gasperi, 92 Mascalucia, +39 3888461903 (), [6]. B&B Terrazza dell'Etna is next to Rifugio Sapienza and Etna Park.  edit

Get out[edit]

The public bus leaves at 16.30. It returns to Catania.



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