Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe and its lunar landscape is one of the most interesting natural attractions in Sicily. It is now considered a must for every trip to Sicily, especially for those who book a family villa in Sicily and stop in Catania; but to visit this natural wonder it is advisable to organize and plan the trip well, also considering the type of excursion you want to do: local agencies and tour operators organize various guided tours, both day and evening, but it is also possible to make the trip independently. There are also various routes of varying length and difficulty for trekking enthusiasts and even more “comfortable” alternatives such as the train. So let’s see in this article how to visit Etna and what alternatives are available.
As a first stop on the Etna excursion we recommend visiting the Etna Park headquarters, located in Nicolosi within the former Benedictine Monastery of San Nicolò La Rena.
On the ground floor you can visit the Volcanological Museum which tells the story of Etna, illustrating its formation and characteristics. The museum also displays lava rocks formed after the eruptions. Outside you can walk along the Sentiero del Germoplasma, a sort of botanical park where you can discover the plant species of the area, including aromatic and medicinal herbs, fruit trees and vineyards.
Despite being an active volcano, there are some excursions that allow you to reach the top, right on the mouth of the large central crater, but where it is essential to be accompanied by an expert guide. However, a visit to this crater is not always possible for safety reasons.
Among the simplest excursions there is the “silvestri craters”: yes of the now extinct craters located on the south side of the volcano, next to the village of Nicolosi.
The sylvan craters are 5 and were formed with the eruption of 1892. Being easily accessible by means of transport, they are the destination of numerous tours.
In fact, hotels and agencies offer trips departing from Catania or other neighboring cities up to the well-known CAI Rifugio Sapienza, located at 1900 mt. From the hut you can easily visit the lower crater, located near the restaurant, or take a slight uphill path to reach the upper craters, from which you can enjoy an even more suggestive landscape.
If you like trekking, Etna is of course one of the best destinations to go for this sport and you can book some organized itinerary to discover by walk the volcano. Instead, if you are a ski lover, you have to go in Etna during the most cold seasons and enjoy your unfogettable down on skis.
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