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Discover Mount Etna: Italy's Most Active Volcano

With a summit at 3300m above sea level, Mount Etna is Italy's most active volcano. Known for its fiery eruptions and vast craters, it is visited by thousands of visitors annually. The 4x4 ride, cable car experience, and the trek to the summit are all unique experiences, each of which offer breathtaking views of the natural beauty of Sicily.

Climbing Mount Etna

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The summit of Mount Etna is at 3,300 meters. The starting point of most Mount Etna tours is Torre Del Filosofo, which is at a height of 2,900 meters.

To get to the 2900 meters mark, you’ll use a combination of a car, a cable car, and a 4x4 bus.

The actual climb starts from Torre Del Filosofo and you’ll definitely feel the effects of the height at this point.

During the exciting climb, you’ll get to witness paths unspoiled by crowds, volcanic craters, lunar terrains, old basalt lava flows, and a whole lot more.

If you opt for a guided tour, you’ll also get to discover Etna’s rich history and better appreciate the local flora and fauna on display.

Mount Etna Pathways

Given its humongous size, it should really come as a surprise that Mount Etna can be accessed from two different sides namely north and south. Here’s an in-depth look at both options and what they entail.

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Mount Etna North Side

On the north side of Mount Etna, you can get up to the platform at 1800 meters above sea level. This is where a majority of tourist attractions are located, including massive lava fields created as a result of past explosions. Since 1800 meters is the extent of how much you can climb, the north side is ideal for beginners or those wary of heights. Remember, there’s no pathway to go further up than 1800 meters from the north side.

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Mount Etna South Side

If you’re craving adventure and want to get up and close with the volcano, the south side of Mount Etna is perfect for you. Here, you’ll get to see the craters real close along with constant smoke from the top of the mountain. You can take a car to the 1800 meters mark and board a cable car from here to the 2500 meters level. From here, you can board a 4x4 bus to 2900 meters after which you’ll have to hike a few more meters to get to the craters.

Mount Etna Cable Car

  • Part of your Mount Etna experience will be spent riding a cable car! The fastest and most exciting way to reach the start of the trekking point is to take a cable car ride.
  • During the thrilling ride, you’ll get to witness breathtaking panoramic views of the mountain and its surrounding areas including the equally enchanting Etna Park.
  • Most Mount Etna tours include a cable car ride so you don’t have to worry about buying separate tickets for the experience.

Mount Etna Craters

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Mount Etna features five distinct craters namely the Northeast Crater, the Voragine, the Bocca Nuova, and the Southeast Crater Complex. Apart from these major craters, the mountain is also home to smaller vents on the flanks to bigger craters approximately 100 meters wide.

The first volcanic activity at Etna was believed to have occurred about 500,000 years ago, with eruptions happening under the sea off the coastline of Sicily.

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Almost 300,000 years ago, the southwest region of the summit started experiencing regular volcanism, after which the occurrence shifted to the present center around 170,000 years ago. These constant eruptions led to the first major volcanic edifice, which formed a stratovolcano in both explosive and effusive eruptions alternatively. With the major eruptions, the summit also collapsed to form calderas and hampered the growth of the mountain. Embark on a Mount Etna tour to discover more fascinating insights about the craters and eruptions that define the mountain.

Mount Etna Eruptions

Mount Etna has always been an active volcano and eruptions have been quite frequent. But lately, the stratovolcano has accelerated the frequency and intensity of the eruptions. Etna has been active since 2019 and in January 2021, it began erupting very frequently. First, it was a paroxysm every 24 hours, after which the interval became larger. Sometimes it erupted every couple of days while increasing the power of each eruption. On the morning of March 7th, 2021, under a rainy sky, Mount Etna unleashed the tenth eruptive paroxysm, which caused a massive cloud of ash and lapilli to fall on Milo, Riposto, and Giarre.

Eruptions in February 2021