Have you ever been on a volcano?
This mountain is definitely a must see whenever you come to southern Italy.
With a height of over 3200 m, a perimeter of almost 250 km, four main craters and nearly 400 secondary craters, the Etna massif is Europe’s tallest active volcano. And yes, it is quite impressive. Especially as there is nothing else as big as this mountain around, so that, wherever you are, you’ll have a full sight on it. And when on the Etna, you’ll have an incredible view on Sicily.
Coa and I went to Mount Etna in summer 2014, while on a camping trip in Sicily, in a village called Acireale, a few kilometers from Catania. We started our excursion by car, driving to the Rifugio Giovanni Sapienza, on the south side of the Etna. From there we took the cable way, which takes you up to ca. 2500 m. Of course, one could have also gone by feet, but we preferred starting our hike from a higher point to see more from the actual volcano landscape. If you’re not into walking at all, you can also just enjoy a ride in those space-rover-like buses that continuously take hordes of tourists on a little Etna exploration tour.
Once escaped said buses and tourist crowd, we finally started walking. And it was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done, even if it wasn’t a really long one. I just loved this moon-like landscape. No trees, no real pathway, just a few tracks on a stony grey ground, surrounded by nothing but a dusty cold wind, the smell of sulfur and a breathtaking view over the Mediterranean sea. Unfortunately we couldn’t walk up to the main craters, as the volcano was active at the moment. Then again, we were able to see a stunning spectacle of erupting lava by night.
The only important thing to make sure you’ll enjoy your trip is your outfit. No joke. We saw tourists running around on a 3000 m high volcano with nothing but flip-flops and a tank top. You don’t need to be a genius to understand that this might be a little underdressed. So here are three tips on how to dress properly:
- Protect yourself from wind, dust and vapours. Sunglasses, hats and scarfs or bandanas will be your best friends.
- Bring a warm weatherproof jacket. Even in august.
- Wear closed shoes. Not only because of the temperature, but also because of the rocky terrain. Lava stone can be very sharp edged.
Now, once you’re already in Sicily, you should also check out the Aeolian Isles. Here you can see some nice volcanoes, above all of course the Stromboli. Fun fact: The Aeolian Isle Vulcano gives origin to the word “volcano”.