From the hot Volcano to the cold River
Etna the Mongibello
Height of 3350 meters (11.000 ft) above the sea level, basal circumference of 150 km (93 mls), surface of 1250 sq kms (483 sq mls), 4 active summit craters at the top of the mount and about 300 extinct side crates scattered all over the surface at different heights; this is Etna by numbers: the highest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world, a really awesome monument of the nature famous for the intense volcanic activity with smoke, ash and lava eruptions, almost every year. But don't be afraid, Etna is a gentle giant, a 'big brother', also called 'a muntagna', by the people living there for centuries and centuries (today more than 1.000.000 inhabitants between the city of Catania and towns and villages all around Etna). Reduced explosive activity limited only to the craters area and slow lava flows giving enough time to evacuate the villages. Visiting Etna is very exciting, but there is NO risk at all, even in case of eruption, which is anyway perfectly predicted by the scientists of National Institute of Geophisics and Vulcanology that control the volcano. Any new eruption is an amazing natural spectacle which can be easily seen from Taormina, Catania and most of the Etnean villages. While the ancient Greek name Aitna' identifies the fiery nature, the second one Mongibello, of Arabic origin, identifies perfectly the peaceful nature of Etna: Mons-Jabel, the 'mountain of the mountains'; the largest, the highest, the most green, the most fertile mount along all the coasts of Mediterranean sea. Etna is a source of energy and life, an alive natural attraction with a luxuriant green vegetation, bushes and forests, a generous Mother Eart with fruits and products of excellence: oranges, lemons, olives, grapes, pistachios, chestnuts, hazelnuts, apples, cherries, honey... and more. Visitin Etna is also an amazing surprise for eyesight, smell and taste: a variety of colours and landscapes, black rocks, vegetations, flowers, fruits and local products of which wine is the most important and renowned: Etna Rosso, Etna Bianco, Etna Rose', Etna Brut sparkling... and more. Produced by many typical vineyards present all over the territory Etna branded wines are appointed D.O.C. (Denomination of Origin Controlled) or D.O.P. (Denomination of Origin Protected) since 1968; the first ones in Sicily and among the earliest in Italy. The traditional grapes Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio used for Etna Rosso, and Carricante and Catarratto used for Etna Bianco, allow a variety of different nouances of flavour depending on the location of the vineyards, the growing tecniques and the process adopted to produce the wine. And together with the emotion to discover this mighty natural attraction, by visiting Etna travellers and tourists can satisfy their cultural curiosity in the pretty Etnean villages full of history and traditions where they can experience the pleasure of wine tasting in the vineyards and the typical cuisine in restaurants, taverns and artisanal pastry with local pistachio, almond, hazelnut specialities... and cannolo, gelato, granita..., of course!
*** Nature Photography Itinerary
Striking masterpiece of the nature along the river Alcantara... with some misteries about the real formation of the canyon... The Alcantara is one of the most important rivers in Sicily: with a lenght of 53 km (33 mls) and a spring at 1400 meters of height on the Nebrodi mounts, is the second one for water flow rate after the Simeto. The name Alcantara is Arabic, as many others toponyms of Sicily, (Al-Qantara' - The Bridge - with reference to an existing Roman bridge over the river). The river runs along the northern boundary of Etna passing through the Gorges of Alcantara, a narrow canyon 25 meters (82 ft) high, 2-5 meters (6-16 ft) wide and 6 km (3,7 mls) long formed by a basalt lava flow platform generated during the last 8000 years by the eruptions of mount Dolce, a low height side crater of Etna 800 mt (2620 ft) high. The formation of the canyon is a possible consequence of a sismic event which splitted the basalt platform thus allowing the existing river to pass in between. The area is spectacular and very attractive to visit for the natural beauty, the freshness and the cleaness of the river water, the relaxing small beach surrounded by a luxuriant vegetation and, mainly, the presence of massive poligonal basalt columns with different shapes: horizontal or "woodpile", vertical or "organ pipes", descending or "folding fan".
*** Nature Photography Itinerary.
Etna South-East and Alcantara Gorges - full day excursion
- Zafferana, typical aetnean village @ 600 metres above the sea level
- The lava flow of 1991-93 eruption, @ 700 metres, the largest eruption of XX century
- The big valley "Valle del Bove" with impressive lava flows and vegetation
- Lava tunnel visit
- Walking on the edge of the extinct Silvestri craters @ 2000 metres
- Alcantara Gorges visit and walk in the shallow river water
Suggested beach equipment for walking in the river: open shoes, swimsuit/shorts, towel.
*** Photographs Itinerary
Price (private customized tour from Taormina):
- 1-3 people - from 260 Euro
Tickets and food/beverage NOT included
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