How to climb Mount Etna – the highest volcano in Europe?

by Pizza Girl Patrol
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In today’s post, I’ll tell you how I climbed Mount Etna in winter! Before moving to Catania, my knowledge about volcanoes was negligible, especially about these active ones. It seemed to me that the flowing lava represents a cataclysm and a natural disaster, as well as clouds of dark smoke rising from the crater into the air.

After a few months of living under the highest active volcano in Europe – Mount Etna, I learned that all these things which was strange for me, are nothing extraordinary, and the gray vapors are just “smoke” that Etna lets off from time to time. Nothing to worry about, Etna has the right to do it!

The approach of the inhabitants of Catania to Mount Etna doesn’t cease to surprise me. Don’t believe the flashy, sensational headlines that can be hinted at many different portals during the increased activity of Etna. They have nothing to do with the truth.

Sicilians love Mount Etna. They have great respect for her and they are grateful for everything she gives them – and there are quite a few of these things. Amazing plants can be grown on fertile volcanic soil. Everyone who has been to Sicily and tried the unusual pistachios from Bronte (one of the towns located at the foot of Etna) knows exactly what I’m talking about.  

From the moment I moved to Catania, I knew that without going to Mount Etna, my stay would never be complete. Therefore, on December 1, I decided to go to some close meeting with one of the most important symbols of Sicily.

How to climb Mount Etna? Practical information

Before going to Mount Etna, check the weather and go there on a sunny day to enjoy the beautiful views as much as possible. Also, remember to dress warm and comfortable! Winter shoes and jackets can be rented upstairs for 4 euros. However, to be sure, it’s best to get the right clothes in advance.

Where to start? First of all, you need to get to Rifugio Sapienza, located at an altitude of 1900 meters above sea level. If you’ve rented a car, your task is much easier.

Rifugio Sapienza Etna Sicily

If not, buses depart from Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII in Catania (opposite the train station). It’s worth coming a bit earlier, because they can be very crowded. A return ticket costs 6.60 euro. The bus usually leaves once a day at 8.15 (the journey takes about 2 hours), returns at 4.30pm, but for the latest information, check the AST website. I’ve heard, it runs more often in the spring and summer.

Rifugio Sapienza, or on the way to the top

There are very beautiful views from Rifugio Sapienza. There you’ll find a parking spot, lava souvenir shops, bars, numerous groups of tourists and a funivia dell’Etna cable car, which will take you to the highest parts of Etna. I’ve paid 30 euro for a return trip. Be sure to find out what time is the last course so as not to miss it! This route can also be done on foot because the trail isn’t difficult, but most people recommend a trip by cable car.

zdj. Pablo Passariello

There is a bar upstairs where you can eat and drink something warm. The last point that you can reach on your own from this place (without a guide) is the Torre del Filosofo, located at an altitude of 3000 meters above sea level. You can go there on foot (I got halfway), or drive up in a jeep, which will take groups of tourists there (it’s quite expensive option). 

Etna during the winter

Hiking Mount Etna in winter – my impressions

Walking on an active volcano is an exciting, unusual experience. I’m glad that I decided to take this trip in December, because thanks to this, I saw Etna in two completely different scenes. In Rifugio Sapienza I found a wild, lunar landscape, while on the mountain, on the way to Torre Filosofo, I could move to a completely different land, full of magic and snow.

amazing views from Etna volcano

By the way, I wonder if I was the first person who ate a pizza (or rather a Katana pizzetta) at an altitude of 2800 m above sea level, on the highest (and active!) Volcano in Europe? Can I be registered in the Guinness Book? What do you think?

Have you ever been to Etna? If so, in what time of the year? How did you like it? Let me know in the comments and share the article with others! Follow me on Instagram to be updated with my food travels!

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