My family likes to joke that when I travel, I always manage to find a mountain to hike. And yet again, they prove to be right. Today, we spent the afternoon hiking Sicily’s volcano, Mount Etna. One of the most active in Europe, this volcano overlooks the eastern portion of the island and is close the large Sicilian city of Catania. It is easily the highest point on the island at an altitude of about 9000 feet.
You can opt for the 60 km hike from the base to the summit, or a simpler drive and hike for only 8 km. We drove up to the refugio and took the gondola a portion of the way up. The ride is gorgeous because you can see both the city and ocean below. Plus it saves you some of the less scenic foothill hiking.
Once off the gondola, you can continue up by foot or bus. We opted for the harder, but more scenic foot tour. Hiking on a volcano can be a bit strenuous, because the ground is loose from the volcanic ash. But I think it’s fun! Mount Etna has rolling peaks and valleys and has fresh black pumice stone to walk on. The black ash will get all over, so wear shoes you wouldn’t mind getting a little dirty.
We took an easy hiking pace up and hiked for about an hour and half. We made it to one of the volcanoes famous calderas. We had a beautiful view of the summit and the rising smoke from the main caldera. Thankfully, the smell of sulfur was not overwhelming. The caldera we stopped at was dormant, but you could still see steam and smoke rising from the center. But the best part of the hike was the ocean view. It was amazing to see the whole eastern side of the island from that altitude. You could even see mainland Italy! We managed to pick a stunning day, as the sun was bright and the visibility was very good.