Med Pearls inviates you to explore rrails and villages between the sky and the clouds of Mount Etna, Italy
Spring is one of the best seasons for slow tourism on Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here are some suggestions on where to organize a slow travel trip on the paths of this volcanic mountain.
For a slow travel trip on Mount Etna, it's important to plan for several days without rushing, and to devote time to choosing accommodation, defining itineraries, and deciding on activities to be carried out. Only in this way can one fully appreciate the beauty of nature and culture in the med pearls area.
Mount Etna is a place of great natural beauty, with a unique volcanic landscape in the world. Spring is the ideal time to discover the flora and fauna of the area, with walks and treks along panoramic trails that wind their way around the volcano, and to enjoy picnics in equipped areas such as Pineta Ragabo and Crateri Silvestri. Some of the recommended hiking routes start from the Crateri Silvestri Trail to discover the southern slope of Mount Etna. From the Crateri Silvestri, you can climb up to an altitude of 2650 meters to admire the landscape from Montagnola and Pian del Lago, which, with its crater, was the protagonist of the eruption of 2001, accompanied by the wonderful and immense panorama of the Valle del Bove, an ancient depression of Mount Etna formed about 9,000 years ago. The valley is an open-air museum and a source of study for scientists and enthusiasts who can observe the "dicchi," ancient volcanic conduits through which they can study the eruptive history of the volcano. It's an excursion through lunar landscapes with little vegetation, few plants but with a disruptive force that manages to grow even in volcanic environments and at high altitudes, united from the beginning to the end by the eruptive scenarios characteristic of this slope, largely modified by the eruptions of 1892 and 2001 that make the path even more suggestive.
Exploring the path to the Crateri Sommitali is another wonderful experience on this popular hiking, trekking, and mountain biking trail, but you can still enjoy a bit of solitude during the quieter hours of the day. The best times to visit this trail are from May to November. From the top of these hills, the view covers a unique spectacle: the entire eastern coast, up to Siracusa area, and part of the hinterland. Nearby, you can refresh yourself at the local establishments surrounding the Rifugio Sapienza. Not far away is the cable car, which takes you over 2700 meters towards the summit.
A less challenging route, suitable for families, is the one called "Sciara del Ragabo," which starts from Pineta Ragabo, near the Brunek shelter, in Etna Nord (municipality of Linguaglossa). From here, you walk for less than an hour, crossing the woods first, then - at the height of the Forestry barracks, you turn off and continue through the vegetation until it opens onto a "sciara" (lava desert). Following the marked trail, you climb on the tongues of rock, crossing another small forest. Once you have passed this too, you reach a panoramic point that opens onto the north side and the Peloritani. In case of optimal visibility, the keen eye of the guides can also see - among the distant peaks - the shapes of the Aeolian Islands.
Another splendid trail to visit is that of Serracozzo. Walking through a birch forest, the path climbs meeting basalt smoothed by the waters, and you find yourself close to the 1928 lava flow and a panorama, to the East, that satisfies the eyes and heart, with the splendid eastern coast. Continuing, you can admire from above the Monti Sartorius and Monte Frumento delle Concazze, beyond the forest, in all its beauty. After about 1.5 km, there is a small hollow that indicates the arrival at the Serracozzo cave, one of the most beautiful and fascinating on Etna.
In spring, interesting initiatives also multiply in small foothill towns with food festivals, cultural events, and especially beautiful patron saint festivals. If you don't feel like trekking up the volcano, you can experience different experiences all around its slopes by heading towards small, ancient villages, each with its own history and traditions. Therefore, also dedicate some time to visiting these towns, discovering their artistic, architectural, and cultural beauties. A visit to Castiglione di Sicilia is a must, a medieval village located a few kilometers north of Etna that offers a spectacular view of the volcano. The city is famous for its Norman castle, the Church of Sant'Antonio Abate, and the historic center.
Stop by Linguaglossa located at the foot of Etna, a small delightful town characterized by its baroque-style houses and its narrow, cobbled streets. The village is also famous for its cuisine and wine. Visit Randazzo in the north of Etna, a historic city that offers a breathtaking view of the volcano, with a beautiful medieval old town. Head towards Nicolosi at the foot of the volcano, a small town famous for its local cuisine and traditions, which is also the starting point for excursions on Etna. End the tour by visiting Bronte northwest of Etna, famous for its production of pistachios and its baroque historic center.
These are just some of the most beautiful villages around Etna. Each of them offers a unique perspective on the culture, history, and beauty of the region and is worth visiting to discover the unique heritage of some of the Sicilian pearls.
By Debora Sanna
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