Volcano is the direct touch with the hottest Earth depths. It doesn’t matter if red lava is continuously flowing or the last eruption happened some hundred years ago and all what you see around are lava stones. I saw volcanoes in Iceland, I saw lakes formed in their craters as well. I climbed Vesuvius in Italian region Campania. And absolutely could not refuse the possibility to go up Etna in Sicily as well.
Rifugio Sapienza, located in approximately 1900 meters of altitude, we took as a starting point for meeting Etna. This is just a very beginning if you want to get know the volcano better. Of course you can walk there around without getting higher as well: touch black lava ground, climb Silvestri crateri, buy various souvenirs, have lunch in restaurant or book a night in a hotel. But if you want experience instead of easy looking – then at least take a cable car and go up to 2500 meters of altitude. All the trip up lasts around 15 minutes, during which you have a possibility to admire views around: contrast of black lava and minimalistic flora was my favourite.
For those who want more – take 4X4 wheels car to reach the higher point is a good idea. I took this possibility, and not only this – but to dress up warmer as well. For a payment of a few euros you can rent good walking shoes, warm jacket and even buy a new pair of socks. That was a good idea, ‘cause even in the middle of summer up there is cold and windy. If at the sea weather temperature was more than +30°C degrees, but already in Rifugio Sapienza became quite chilly, so not speaking about that when you are going higher.
My highest reached point of Etna was around 2900 meters above sea level. Unfortunately you cannot reach the highest point of 3329 meters, but the previous level is enough to get more experiences.
On a trip up there it was just fabulous in one moment to drive into a cloud, where you can’t see absolutely nothing, and after a few minutes – come back to a perfectly clear seeing. When car finally stopped and let us all go, you could feel that air changed and breathing became harder and slower.
Everybody started their walk around one of the craters. It is lovely to see, that in one side ground is steaming, and in another – lays a hump of on old hardened snow, covered with a black layer of ash. And what a surprise when you are taking a lava stone in your hands and you see countless number of ladybugs, hiding under it. Nature is miraculous. When the day is cloudless, you can see a scenic panorama, however on my visit everything was sinking in greyish white heavy clouds. Though I couldn’t say that it was less spectacular not seeing clearly around, but being covered by a puffy haze on a small black lava planet “Etna”.
Shopping. There is a big number of souvenir kiosks in there. But prices for the same or nearly the same things are varying a lot in each one. So before buying is a good idea first to have a look around.
Eating. Of course in Etna area there are restaurants, but I really loved our choice to stop in Zafferana Etnea to have lunch and see the life of small town located downhill the active Etna.
Getting up high to Etna. Take cable car and 4×4 wheels car is the easiest and fastest way to get up high to Etna. But definitely much more challenging, adventurous and memorable is climbing on foot. Take a guided tour on safe paths is recommended as doing so alone can be dangerous.
Restrictions. There are some health restrictions for getting up to Etna, so consult the ticket office.