At the southernmost tip of the Italian peninsula, in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, lies Sicily's island. This Italian region house two of the most active volcanoes of the Planet, the small Stromboli and the huge Mount Etna. The first one is located on an archipelago (Unesco world heritage) made by seven volcanic islands off Sicily's north coast. The second one is on the est coast of Sicily, close to the main town of Catania. These two active volcanoes so close but so different have been a major attraction for tourists visiting Sicily, but in July 2019 something went terribly wrong.
The tragedy of the volcano stromboli
Stromboli is known to humanity since the 7th-century b.c. when the greeks first start to write about his daily explosions. This small but mighty volcano in the ancient world was known as "The lighthouse of the Mediterranean" cause it uses to light up the Mediterranean sea's night skies with his eruptions. Until 2019 guided tours were allowed to the summit of this volcano to experience the thrill of seeing an explosion up and close. Then, the 5th of July 2019 tragedy occurred. A massive explosion caused a pyroclastic flow to develop, killing a local hiker and leaving many more injured. Simultaneously, the boats anchored in a bay at the volcano's feet were miraculously spared. Nowadays the only way to enjoy the Volcano Stromboli's eruptions is onboard a boat from a safe distance from the coastline.
Mount Etna the gentle giant
Just a few hundred kilometres from the Aeolian island we find another UNESCO world heritage site, the big Mount Etna one of the most active volcanoes on the Planet but at the same time one of the less dangerous one. This beautiful geological marvel rises from the depth of the ocean to an impressive height of 3340 mt. The last eruption took place on the 13th of December of 2020 and lasted for two weeks. When we talk about mount Etna, we cannot avoid mentioning the impressive Alcantara Gorge and the Marine park of Isola Bella. All together, these three locations account for the most extensive biodiversity of the island Sicily.
So what are the top five excursions to enjoy the mighty Mount Etna and the surrounding places?
1 Expedition to the active Craters
Due to the low presence of Silica in the magma mount Etna eruption are of medium intensity, so the active craters at the summit can be reached with daily hiking expeditions. A good physical condition is required to take part in the fourteen kilometres excursion. Still, for those that will reach the summit, the experience will be unforgettable. The view on the valleys, the mountain ranges, and the mediterranean sea is breathtaking. The glimpse of the craters' vertical walls plunging to the Planet's depth can be scary. At the same time, the noise produced from the explosions shakes the ground. The yellow, green, and red mineral colouring the central crater's large rim produce an alien landscape. We placed this tour to the summit of Mount Etna to the top position cause there are not many places in the world where you can explore an active volcano so up and close.
2 Mountain bike on the Moon
The flanks of Mount Etna on the last ten years have become popular among mountain bikers from all over the world. To add fame to the cycling trails of this active volcano have contributed the Mtb World Cup stage taking place on Mount etna under the name of Etna Marathon. The territory so vast offers many different Mtb tours from easy to advance. Using an electric Mountain bike can bridge the gap between people with different fitness levels within the same group. The most spectacular tour is the forty-two-kilometre ride from the arid south side to the north slopes' lush forest. The lava desert and forest that an excursionist will cross with this mountain bike tour will leave a long-lasting memory of this wild place of Sicily.
3 Wine tour on Mount Etna
I know that a wine tasting might not sound like a great adventure or the best way to explore an active volcano, but a tour of Mount Etna's wine district will change your mind. This excursion couple up an off-road adventure, light trekking and finally you'll be served a three-course meal and five top-quality wines. The red wines produced from the wine yards cultivated on the volcano's fertile soil have a complex structure and a rich character. In contrast, the white wines are fresh and exciting, reflecting the rich mineral ground upon they grow.
4 Tour of Mount Etna and the Alcantara Gorges
With this excursion, you do not reach the summit of Mount Etna, but you'll get to see two of Sicily's most stunning landscapes with a single full-day excursion. In the morning a guide will take you hiking through the birch and pine forest and the summit of some ancient craters and even underground explore a cave. In the afternoon you'll drive through some beautiful mountain village before entering the cold water of the Alcantara river flowing inside the most spectacular gorge to be seen in Italy. This tour is ideal for families or those who want to see as much as possible in a single tour.
5 Kayak tour on the Marine Park in Taormina
Even though technically this tour does not go to Mount Etna, it still shows you one of the most stunning views you'll ever see of the volcano. From the turquoise water of the marine park of Isola Bella, you can see the full size of this huge volcano and fully understand how big it is. Admire the 3340 meters Italian giant plunges his flanks on the blue mediterranean sea is a view every human being should see at least once in his life. This tour offers much more reasons why grabbing the paddle and sweat a bit. You can visit two beautiful marine caves along the tour, paddle in the stunning marine park, and stop for a dip in one of the most beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean sea.