The brooding presence of Mount Etna is hard to escape anywhere in eastern Sicily. Topping 3,300 m (almost 11,000 ft) and covering an area larger than London or New York, it’s Europe’s largest active volcano. Those living on Etna’s slopes are well-accustomed to its ominous presence but it is the regular eruptions of lava and ash that make the soil here so rich in nutrients and an ideal place for farms and vineyards.
The dramatic moon-like landscape at the summit attracts many visitors each year, and during the winter locals head to the snowclad upper slopes for skiing. This trip by car, cable car and off-road truck is an adventurous journey to reach the summit of this dramatic peak before descending the fertile slopes for a well-earned wine-tasting lunch.
To ensure you reach the summit before too many other people, you will have a reasonably early start from your hotel. With your guide and driver you’ll travel around the base of the mountain before ascending up through the countryside on the southern slopes.
As you climb, you’ll pass through various towns and villages typical of the area with dark-hued walls and roads, built from the black lava stone that is so prevalent here. The vegetation also changes as you go with pine trees, vineyards and chestnut groves giving way to lichen and broom and eventually the bare black rock and ash of the summit. The temperature will also drop considerably.
Once you’ve reached as far as you can by road, you will continue your journey with your guide by cable car to reach the upper slopes. From here you’ll be escorted to one of the specially adapted all-terrain vehicles that take you up in small groups through the barren landscape to the dramatic craters at the summit.
How far the vehicles are able to go depends on the current activity of the volcano, and once you are up on the summit one of the mountain guides will take the group on a short walk to view more of the landscape on foot and enjoy the spectacular sights.
After heading back down to the car park, via the cable car, it will be time to relax over some lunch. The rich volcanic soils here make the slopes of Mount Etna ideal for viticulture and no trip to the mountain would be complete without sampling some of the wonderful wines that are produced here. Your driver and guide will take you to one of our recommended local wineries for a tasting lunch, featuring the best of Etna’s local cuisine, paired with a selection of wines, before returning you to your hotel.
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