Sicily, a trip around Etna and trekking on the volcano

Etna

A four day circular route around Etna through towns perched on the slopes of the volcano with a day spent on foot and a great many opportunities to try out the area’s delicacies from Bronte pistachios to Etna mushrooms.

Day 1 – From Catania Fontanarossa to Castiglione di Sicilia
76 kilometres, 1 hour 55 minutes

Etna, Sicily

Etna, Sicily - © Rifugio Citelli

You spend the first day exploring the eastern slopes of Etna. If you land at Catania’s Fontanarossa airport, one of the first towns at the foot of the volcano is San Giovanni La Punta (350 m.s.l, population 22,000). If it’s lunchtime stop off at Giardino di Bacco, one of the most popular restaurants of the area. Continuing northwards the landscape becomes first hilly and then mountainous and the volcano gets more and more imposing.

Trecastagni (580 m.s.l, population 9700) and above all Zafferana Etnea are both worth a visit for some of the best panoramic views of the volcano. This is a mushroom area and you’ll find them in local trattoria menus and at the October mushroom fair. There are beautiful walks from Zafferana in the woods around it or more challenging treks towards the volcano’s craters.

After Zafferana the trip around Etna continues in a northwards direction along its eastern slopes. Stop off in Sant’Alfio (531 m.s.l, population1600) for the legendary Castagno dei 100 Cavalli, a thousand-year-old tree. After Linguaglossa (550 m.s.l.), headquarters of the Parco dell’Etna, you reach Castiglione di Sicilia (621 m.s.l.), a charming mountain town between Etna and Alcantara where you can stay in Hotel Federico II, in an excellent position for trips to the volcano.

Day 2 – Trip to Etna starting from Rifugio Citelli

A day for an excursion to the volcano. Leaving early from Castiglione di Sicilia go back towards Linguaglossa and climb up the slopes of the volcano on the road to Mareneve until you get to Rifugio Citelli, starting point for treks and exciting trips towards the craters and the summit of the volcano. Contact the Linguaglossa Tourist office for more information on routes and trips that you can do with or without a guide.

Day 3 – From Castiglione di Sicilia to Nicolosi
62 kilometres, 1 hour 25 minutes

Adrano, Etna, Sicily

Adrano, Etna, Sicily - © Comune di Adrano

Leave Castiglione di Sicilia on day three and continue your circuit of Etna by heading west. There are a few towns on route that you shouldn’t miss out on a visit to. To begin with there’s Randazzo (765 m.s.l.) with its medieval quarter and the many mushroom based dishes of Ristorante Veneziano. And then there’s Bronte (760 m.s.l, population 19,000) famous for its pistachios which are used in everything from cakes to fabulous pasta dishes such as ravioli with a pistachio cream sauce.

Keep going south along the slopes of Etna and you get to Adrano (560 m.s.l, population 36,000), a very old town with a castle, lava rock walls and Norman churches. The road to the heart of Mt. Etna leaves from here to Rifugio Sapienza, another base for trips and walks towards the craters. Keep going downhill now towards Nicolosi (700 m.s.l, population 7000), where you can spend your last night round Etna at Bed & Breakfast Sotto il Vulcano.

Day 4 – Return to Catania Fontanarossa
48 kilometres, 1 hour
A short journey back to Catania Airport on your last day.