Etna - now active volcano (stratovolcano) is the highest volcano in Europe and, due to frequent eruptions, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Has an area of about 1250 sq km and approximately 3350 meter height.
The volcano is located on the east coast of Sicily, near the cities of Catania and Taormina, and also near Messina. The volcano has several hundred different craters, some of which can be seen by visiting the mount Etna. Lava from time to time erupting from the bowels of the volcano, rich in lots of minerals, so mineral-rich land is very fertile, and the slopes of Etna have a status of natural reserve. Here grow olives, pomegranates, citrus and fruit crops, and white grapes grown on enriched land, has incomparable pronounced pleasant taste (unusual and delicious, worth a try).
The volcano Etna is one of the main symbols of Sicily, is included in the list of the most interesting, visited and unpredictable attractions not only of the island, but of all Italy, and possibly even Europe.
Naturally, everything is very individual and every attraction is an amateur, someone likes Etna and similar heights, while someone prefers narrow streets of old cities and sunny coasts.
For us, Etna became an incredible adventure, leaving behind a lot of positive emotions and unforgettable experiences. We specially went to Catania (a public bus goes to Etna from the city) to visit Etna on our own. Of course, this is an amazing place combining the unsurpassed beauty and power of nature, here you can go through the clouds and feel the “breath of the earth”, and the unique views from the height of a large crater are breathtaking and look simply unrealistic. This must be seen personally, in words and photographs, even for one fraction of a percent it is impossible to convey all the sensations that you experience while being on Etna.
Tourist routes on the Etna. Yourself to conquer Etna
In the summer (April to November) you can make a tourist climb to the volcano, see its craters and solidified lava. And in the winter (from December to March) - guests are invited to curb the "living giant" by doing skiing on its slopes.
- independently by public bus from Catania (it was our option).
- The northern route runs along the slope and less tourist. This slope is more picturesque (greens and flowers here) than the southern route, however, to us it seemed less attractive in that sense, as you travel along it, you are unlikely to feel all the charms of a volcano - an altitude of 3000 meters with frozen lava, craters and the whole "Wildness" of mother nature. The northern route passes through the small towns of Piedimonte Etneo and Linguaglossa, and leads to the base of Piano Provenzana, where there is a ski resort and equestrian center.
Southern route (cable car, volcanic rocks, craters, icy wind and clouds)
We will tell you about how to get from Catania to Etna by bus at the end of the article.
The route originates from the cable car of Etna, located at an altitude of 1923 metres above sea level. Here on equipped area are: Parking, gift shops, several cafes and also cash. At the height of the tourist season (from may to October), wanting to climb Etna a lot, so the queue starts from the street.
In ticket offices you can buy tickets for the cable car, the cost of 30 euros both ways. The cable car will take you to the station, located at an altitude of 2500 meters. You can also buy a bus ticket (off road vehicle), which will be able to rise above to the highest point available to visitors - a large crater Barbagallo (barbagallo Crateri), cost 24 Euro + to buy a guide for € 9. You can buy all three services in the complex or each separately.
Because Etna is an active volcano and depending on weather conditions, altitude and conditions of carrying out of tours (routes) are subject to change.
In the summer season (April to November) cableway Etna is open daily from 09:00 to 16:15 (last departure to the mountain).
We purchased tickets only for the cable car. When buying a ticket, a plastic card is issued, which will be needed to pass the turnstile on the rise and on the descent. Alternatively, you can not buy anything, and go on foot, the road for Hiking passes here, near the cable car. It is impossible to get lost, everything is clear and simple.
Having stood the queue, we sit in the cabins of the cableway and drive, enjoying the views
At an altitude of 2500 meters is the endpoint of the cable car. Here, in the indoor area, there is a cafe, places for relaxation and a souvenir shop, where, among others (drinks, sweets, honey, various gift baskets, etc.), you can also buy souvenirs from solidified lava. Prices in the cafe are higher than at the lower cable car station. Many take food and water with them, after climbing and walking along Etna, brutal hunger attacks. We have only crackers, peaches and water, as later regretted, it was necessary to take more food.
Here you can rent a warm windproof jacket and trekking shoes. Price 3 euros for a jacket. On mount Etna, even in summer, cold icy piercing wind with strong gusts, my hands freeze instantly. I advise you to dress warmly, be sure to pants, comfortable shoes and a jacket. We were in jackets, + took a sweatshirt, and wearing them, but out on the street, then froze and ran back in, had to borrow jackets. The air temperature at the foot was +27 ° C, sensed on the Etna +1 degree.
At the exit of the building of the cable car are SUVs. Those who bought a bus ticket, they will take to the big crater.
Beautiful views from the platform near the cable car
Near the right side, there are several other smaller craters, you can walk to them.
We go further on foot, to that largest crater of Barbagallo. The tourist route is quite convenient, even children of about 10 overcome it. The sensations are, of course, amazing - the clouds floating at you at a frantic speed, as if they cut space and you can reach them with your hand. And the silence and the unique volcanic landscape, spreading around as far as the eye can see, create a feeling of mystery and otherworldly reality.
The ascent is complicated only by strong gusts of wind, sometimes almost knocking you down and loose lava with ashes, in which your feet get bogged down.
Along the way plaques indicating the height you've reached
About two hours of leisurely walking, and here we are at the very place where off-road vehicles bring those who bought a ticket - a large central crater of Barbagallo.
Here you can walk around the top of the crater
From this point have a stunning views of the vastness of Etna, its craters and peaks, as well as, below the cloud level, you can see the beauty of Sicily, those of the surrounding area, which stretches at the foot of mount Etna.
To feel "above the clouds"
And feel the "breath of the earth." From small pits, literally 10-20 cm deep from the surface, the heat of the volcano radiates - you can warm your icy hands. Nevertheless, our planet is amazing and beautiful, we are standing under the gusts of an icy wind with a frozen face, and literally a little underground and it is already hot.
On the way back to the buses everyone was invited, tickets, no one checked. But we decided to walk down and once again enjoy the pleasures of Etna.
Yourself to Etna from Catania
As mentioned above, from Catania once a day runs a public bus company AST. Departure at 08:15 from Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII, near Catania Central station. This bus will take you to the bottom of the cable car. The return flight from this lower station (Rifugio Sapienza) to Catania at 16:30.
A round-trip ticket costs 6,60 euros. Tickets must be purchased at the AST office on the day of departure and are not sold in advance. A small office of the company is located near the square, you need to go to the ring road here to this building
turn into the alley (Via Sturzo Luigi), which is on the left side of the building, and here, on the left side, you will see the AST office
Tickets start selling around 08: 00 hours. Buses will stand on the square. In the summer there are two buses, there are usually a lot of people, so if you do not have enough seats, you will have to go standing. To take a seat, we advise you to come a little in advance.
From the cable car to Catania the first bus departs a little before the stated time (16:30) somewhere at 16:10 and takes all who have already returned from the volcano. Already at 16:15 we pulled away from the cable car station. The second will arrive about 16:30.