Among Italy’s wonders are not just works of art and incredible monuments; even nature has been generous with their Bel Paese. One natural wonder that never ceases to amaze is Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy’s tallest volcano, reaching a height of 3,326 m (10,912 ft); it is the world’s most active volcano.
Etna can be both an Eden and Hell, depending on where you are or what the volcano decides to do. A moment you are in an almost martian landscape, the next everything changes and you’re surrounded by greenery and woods. The fertile volcanic soils favor agriculture, with vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain and the broad plain of Catania to the south.
And yet even where it’s most green, Etna’s fire continues to burn underground. It’s an area of extremes: fire but also ice, as the volcano guards what is considered the southernmost glacier in Europe, the Ice Cave.
Etna is one of Sicily's main tourist attractions, with thousands of visitors every year. You can access it through the road that leads to the Sapienza Refuge (1910 m). From there, you can take the cableway that runs uphill to an elevation of 2500 m, and reach on foot the summit craters area at 2920 m.
The craters near the cableway never reopened as the solidified magma acts as a cap. The summit craters are constantly active; Etna is a mountain that is alive, whose landscape changes continuously.
The Ferrovia Circumetnea, or Round-Etna railway, is a narrow-gauge railway built at the end of the 19th century that runs around the volcano in a 110-km long semi-circle starting in Catania and ending in Riposto 28 km north of Catania.
As incredible as it may sound, there are two ski resorts on Etna: one at the Sapienza Refuge, with a chairlift and three ski lifts, and a smaller one at Piano Provenzana near Linguaglossa, also with three lifts and a chairlift.