There are many ways to visit Etna, Europe’s largest, most active volcano that is the star of the show in northeast Sicily. It’s advised to go in the early morning because the sky is clearer of smoke and haze from Mamma Etna’s (aka, Mongibello) ongoing venting from the top’s 5 or 6 craters.
During our small-group, private excursion on Friday, our Experience Sicily guests learned much from our expert guides, Fabrizio and Miriam, about how La Montagna (The Mountain) was formed over hundreds of thousands of years as well as about eruptions and lava flow during recent human history.
After seeing flora upclose, going off-road in our 4×4 vehicles, and learning about the life cycle of lava, we visited the Silvestri Craters at Rifugio Sapienza, pictured. One of Etna’s most accessible points of interest, about 6,000 feet about sea level, the inactive, small “montagne” (mountains) on Etna’s face were formed in 1892.
Everyone was surprised when we arrived at the jam-packed parking area because all morning we had visited quiet, less frequented points on the volcano, giving the impression that we were the only people there!
Once we had our walk on the Silvestri ridge, we escaped the equivalence of Times Square, and we were transported to a tranquil area where we enjoyed a picnic lunch of typical products prepared by Fabrizio and Miriam (and Fabrizio’s mother!), with not another tourist in sight.
That’s how I prefer our guests to visit Etna! … Away from the masses.
Now, look closely at the photo, and you’ll see a guy standing at the bottom of the crater!