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Mount Etna, the heart of Sicily

The volcano Etna covered with snow

Mount Etna (also known by the name Mongibello) is the largest active volcano in Europe, and scholars have been writing about its activity for about 2,700 years. It is so high that not only do I see it from my home (150 km away), but they even see it from Palermo!

And with great joy of the Sicilians, since 2013, it has also been part of the assets that make up the World Heritage Site

The best time for an excursion on Mount Etna

You can choose any time of the year for your excursion, and numerous agencies can help you organize it. Of course, I don’t advise you to go in the summer, because the temperature can be very high. If you go in spring or autumn, however, you can think about full-day excursions, because it is neither too hot nor too cold. But winter is, in my opinion, the most beautiful time of year to enjoy a breathtaking view.

Unfortunately I cannot give you precise information on the cost of a tour on Etna, because it is established on the basis of various factors, including the age of the participants and the duration of the excursion. In principle, it is between 50 and 100 Euros.

Etna eruption
Etna during one of its eruptions

Grottoes and the Etna Park

Worthy of note is the Grotta del Gelo, perennially frozen, and the Grotta del Collegio, which was once used as a neviera, therefore as a place to store the snow and ice that were used to prepare the granita.

And don’t forget to visit the Etna Park! It extends to 59,000 hectares and has the essential task of protecting the landscape around the volcano. There are eight paths you can take advantage of, and this experience will allow you to understand how important it is to protect these ecosystems and habitats.

Myths and legends about Mount Etna

Around the mountain, several myths and legends were born, and here are a few.

A legend says that the body of the giant Enceladus – who was defeated by Athena – is chained under Sicily. His mouth is in correspondence with Etna, and the volcano erupts every time he shouts.

On the other hand, the Greek philosopher Empedocles spent many years living in his refuge on the mountain, and this is why he thought that he had become immortal. To prove it, he threw himself into the crater, but only one of his bronze sandals returned to the surface.

Then there is the story of the two “pious brothers” Anapia and Anfinomo. The two boys were surprised by an eruption while working the fields, and the only way to save themselves was to escape. They could not, however, abandon their elderly parents, so they loaded them on their shoulders. This act slowed down their steps a lot and then the miracle. The lava was about to reach them, but faced with the loving gesture of the two brothers, it split into two languages ​​and then reunited after passing them.

In closing, King Arthur lives in a castle on Etna, and even the soul of Queen Elizabeth I of England is imprisoned on the mountain because of a pact she made with the devil in exchange for help to govern her kingdom.

The fauna on Etna

But there are not only kings and queens on Etna 🙂

You could meet foxes, porcupines, dormice, hares, and rabbits, and, if you look up (while you are very high), you may be lucky enough to observe the golden eagle.

I only have to wish you a good climbing!


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