The tallest mountain in Italy is also one of its hottest tourist attractions – literally. Mount Etna is a volcano located on the island of Sicily and so long as it’s not erupting, the mountain is open for visitors to tour and explore. Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is actually always erupting, although not explosively. In fact, many don’t consider Etna particularly dangerous and live along the slope of the mountain. The fertile soil created by the volcano supports vineyards and orchards surrounding the base of the mountain as well.
The History of Etna
Etna has a place in ancient Roman history as the home of Vulcan, the god of fire and forge. Deep inside Mount Etna, Vulcan and his helpers, the one-eyed Cyclops forged the weapons of the gods. The eruptions and history of the strato volcano have been recorded for thousands of years making it easily one of the most documented volcanoes in the world. Yet even with the history of the volcano, it is impossible to determine where the next eruption will occur. This has never stopped locals and visitors alike from hiking and exploring the large mountain.
Visiting Mount Etna
Mount Etna has some of the best hiking in all of Italy with various species of oak and stone pine, birch and beech trees growing over the surface of the mountain. The trees change color in the fall creating an astounding display of autumn scenery all over its surface. Hiking on Mount Etna in the summer is still comfortable as the mountain temperatures are far less than those of the surrounding areas. In the fall, the temperatures can be quite cool and in the winter months, Etna offers snow skiing and other fun snow sports.
There is a great deal of wildlife to encounter on Mount Etna as you hike along in the warmer months. Be on the lookout for frogs, turtles and toads in the streams and ponds surrounded by trees. You’ll also find larger animals including foxes, squirrels, weasels, wild hare, hedgehogs, porcupine and even some wild cats in the forested slopes of Etna. Always be aware of your surroundings and use caution.
Planning for Mount Etna
There are several roadways into park that contains Mount Etna. You’ll find a railway line into the park as well from Catania to Riposto and bus service from Catania. There are hostels in the area as well for overnight trips.