Italy - Etna - SNP - June 2005

We went on an individual trip to Sicily / the Etna organized by SNP from June 11 2005 to June 18 2005. Below you will find in short where we went and what we saw on that trip.
The most interesting images have a red bullet in front of them. In a hurry? Just want to see the pictures? Check out the slide show.

June 11: Home - Zafferana Etnea

We had a late flight from Amsterdam to Catania (Sicily). We arrived at Catania around 9pm and after an hour by bus to Zafferana Etnea, it was after 11pm before we had dinner. After a small round of introductions (8 people in our group) we quickly went to bed.

June 12: Zafferana Etnea - Etna - Rifugio Brunek

After breakfast we went to downtown to go shopping for lunch. Fresh bread and lots of cheese, salami, yoghurt, etc. A mini-van brought us just outside Fornazzo from where we strated our first walk - on the slopes of the Etna. The weather became better as we ascended. Our route description wasn't very good, but our guide managed quite well to find a decent path.
Around 3.15pm we arrived at Rifugio Citelli. We had cappuccino or a beer and enjoyed the sun untill a mini-van came to pick us up around 4.30. The driver was the owner of Rifugio Brunek where we would spent the next 3 nights. We had a very good dinner and of course we ate to much...
This day we walked approximately 3h25m.

June 13: Slopes of the Etna

After breakfast (also very good) the owner of the Rifugio brought us to the starting point of this day: close to Rifugio Citelli. The first part of this walk we passed a lot of small craters. We walked in a high tempo so we arrived just before noon at the spot we had planned to be picked up from around 4pm. After lunch we crossed a recent stream of lava (from october/november 2002) and then we went straight through a forest back to the Rifugio. Just after 7 we had dinner again - even better then the day before. The owner is also the cook. If you ever visit this part of Sicily, I suggest you stay at this Rifugio for a couple of nights.
This day we walked approximately 3h25m.

June 14: To the top of the Etna

This day is the big day already - we go for the top! We leave early because it will be a long day (approximately 30 km.). Our driver brought us to our starting point where we start walking around 8.30. The top of the Etna is still only a small peak in the distance. As we get higher we see fields of snow getting closer. The top hardly seems to get bigger though... Around 12.30 we have lunch and think we will be at the top within 1 hour, 1 and a half hour at the most. But is it is not before 2.25 before we reach the edge of the crater (Arjen hurries to be there first). We are between the central crater and Bocca Subterminale. Because of the sulfer in the air, breathing is difficult. Arjen can't stay there for long and does not accompany Patricia and 2 others who go around the edge towards Bocca Nuova to have a better look. Around 3.45 the Patricia and the others join the group again and we can start the journey back. Just before 6.30 we arrive back at our starting point where our driver is already waiting for us. He brings us back to his Rifugio for the last time. DInner is again great.
This day we walked approximately 6h45m.

June 15: Slopes of the Etna

We started walking around 9.30. The starting point was the same as yesterday, but after a few minutes we took a different path and headed for Monte Nero. Close to Monte Nero there was a long row (at least 20) of tiny craters (maybe 10 meters in diameter). We walked halfway around Monte Nero and then walked into a small forest. We took a short break at Rifugio Timparossa. After that we went into the Grotta del Lamponi, a cave about 10 meters below the surface and we "resurfaced" 150 meters from where we started. In this area we saw a lot of rope lava. After a short walk we arrived at the Grotta della Femmine. The entrance of this cave is like a birth canal - hence its name. Arjen was the only one to go inside. He didn't go very far. It is said to be around 2 km. long! SHortly after that we arrived at the third cave: Grotta della Palombe. Patricia, Koos (our tour guide) and Arjen went inside. This wasn't a very long cave, but certainly worth the visit. Then we went back through the forest and some lava fields. We arrived at Rifugio Brunek around 4.30, right before it started raining a bit. An hour later the owner of the Rifugio brought us to Linguaglossa where we would spend the night. In Linguaglossa we had dinner in a stylish restaurant (Boccaparte).
This day we walked approximately 4h45m.

June 16: Linguaglossa - Francavilla di Sicilia

By 9am we started walking. The path was where a railway used to be. We saw a couple of snakes and lots of lizards. When we had to walk through one of the railway tunnels, we both discovered our shoes weren't exactly waterproof anymore when we had to pass some small pools of water. We knew when we left it would be their last journey. They were worn down to start with and walking through the razor sharp lava didn't do them much good either. After the 6th tunnel we had a great view of Castiglione di Sicilia. Around noon we had a long lunch there. From there it was a long way to the Gole d'Alcantara - a very nice gorge. There's one spot where you have a great view into it from above and a few minutes down the path you can enter it. All day the weather wasn't great, but at least it had been dry. When we arrived at the Gole, unfortunately it started to drizzle, so we didn't stay long. At the top on the other side there's a shop and parking place where a mini-van picked us up and brought us to Francavilla di Sicilia.
This day we walked approximately 4h20m.

June 17: Francavilla di Sicilia - Taormina

During the night we woke up a couple of times because of thundre and heavy rain, so we feared our last day of walking would be in the rain, but in the morning the weather was actually very nice. Patricia and Rob went shopping for lunch and around 9 we were brought to the starting point, just outside of Graniti. Finding the right path was a bit difficult, but we eventually got back on track... for a while... Around noon we were somewhere on the slopes of a hill with no clear path back and certainly no path ahead of us. Eventually we decided to head back down to the path that we had missed. There we had lunch. Then we headed for Taormina. The sole of Arjen's shoe came halfway loose - fortunately it was the last day! By 5.20 we arrived at our hotel. After dropping of our luggage, we went for a beer at the pool! Around 7 we took a bath and went for dinner at Al Saraceno. During dinner Ria gave a "speech" - she'd prepared small funny poems about each member of the group, a very nice guesture.
This day we walked approximately 6 hours.
This makes for a total of 28h45m for this holiday!

June 18: Taormina - Home

We would only have to be at the airport by 7pm, so we had lots of time to walk around Taormina. We did a bit of shopping (chocolates and limoncello, a Sicillian liquer). When we were having a cappuccino at a terrace, a group of at least 20 horses passed us. The horsemen / carriage men we blowing whistles or playing flutes. A very nice sight. We thought we could have dinner at Al Saracena again, but they weren't open yet, so we ate some roles at the hotel. Around 7 we arrived at the airport. The flight home was quiet and we arrived back home around 0.50am.