Volcanoes of Sicily. Etna and the Aeolian Islands - SIC3
Volcanoes of Sicily. Mt. Etna & the Aeolian Islands
Exploring the dramatic volcanic landscapes of Sicily
8-day walking & discovery tour with 5 different bases in charming hotels
The archipelago of the Aeolian Islands, situated in front of the north coast of Sicily, is a place of overwhelming natural beauty, made all the more special by its particular volcanic nature. The islands of Lipari, Stromboli, Vulcano and Panarea, to name but the most noted, are home to tiny fishermen’s villages hiding under tall imposing volcanic cones, some of which are amongst the most active of the world. Here people and forces of nature have co-habited for centuries, often resulting in tremendous loss. But as well in a spectacular landscape, where man 6 nature have lived together for thousands of years, reason why the area is listed as UNESCO World Heritage. The volcanic earth also rewards with extra-ordinary fertility – testimony are the very good wines produced on the islands!
Moreover, the development of a responsible and ecological ‘volcanic’ tourism, recently has seen an increment of the presence of ‘walking tourists’ from all over the world on the islands, always in utmost respect of the natural resources of the area. When visiting the Aeolian Islands, you will discover vast ebony beaches contrasting with light coloured shorelines, where inaccessible and winding rocky coasts alternate with beautiful beaches and large barren areas lay alongside beautiful lush gardens.
On ‘mainland’ Sicily you’ll discover Europe’s tallest still active volcano, Mount Etna. With its imposing mass over 3350 metres high, it dominates the baroque city of Catania, and the whole of eastern Sicily. The black flows of lava and the vast plains of black sand on its top make the luxurious vegetation on its lower slopes all the more surprising. The summit crater area of the volcano is constantly reshaped by explosive activity and massive lava flows, erupting into incandescent fountains of ashes and glowing rocks. Walking in the midst of these impressive forces of nature, observing the gasses erupting and the lava flowing down the slopes, makes one experience a sense of true exploration, delivered in abundance by this tour!
During the first half of your tour you will stay on the islands of Lipari and Stromboli, exploring the archipelago’s wild nature and ever changing geological aspects. You will hike on the black beaches and ebony slopes of Vulcano, observing its ‘fumaroles’ constantly erupting hot gasses, and be able to bath in its thermal springs and sulphuric mud. On Stromboli you will take a guided walk up the volcano proper to experience its brute force. You will also have plenty of time to discover the tiny villages stretched out along the coast, where time seems to have stood still and the friendly locals will always greet you with a smile. Meanwhile you will have the opportunity to sample genuine Italian cuisine, based on sea food and locally produced wines.
After transferring to Mount Etna you will have the opportunity to walk on the slopes of Europe’s tallest volcano, witnessing the scars left by its past eruptions and watching the actual making of a new landscape. You will have the opportunity to hike up to the very summit of the volcano with a certified volcano guide for an unforgettable experience while watching eruptions and lava flows mould the earth into shape. After your stay on the slopes of Mount Etna you will then transfer to the elegant city of Taormina where you may end your tour by admiring some of the splendid ancient monuments in the historical heart of the city, including the amphitheatre.
Please note: this is a moderately easy tour which is suitable for those who have some experience with walking and a good general physical condition. Most of the walks are on good paths, sometimes on steep terrain. People with respiratory problems may have discomfort in sulphurous areas with fumes. Average walking times: approx. 3 to 6 hours each day.
Genius Loci Travel Walking Hiking Kayaking Cycling Trekking Italy Tour holiday
Day 0 Catania
Arrival in Catania in case you arrive earlier. Catania International Airport can be easily reached with daily flights from many cities in Europe and other cities in Italy, like Milan, Rome and Naples. Several hotels can be booked in town, according to your wish (either ‘downtown’ centrally located, or near the harbour or train station, ranging from 3 to 5-star.
N.B. If you arrive one day earlier you have the possibility to pay a visit to the bustling city of Catania, dominated by the imposing mass of the Etna Volcano, or perhaps make a day trip to Syracuse.
Day 1 Arrival – From Catania to Milazzo
After arriving at Catania Airport you will be brought by private transfer to the harbour town of Milazzo on Sicily’s north coast. After settling in at your evening’s B&B, you will have the time to explore the town’s historical centre, dominated by the enormous medieval castle. In the evening you can stroll through the little alleys of the town, finding a suitable place for a hearty dinner.
Day 2 From Milazzo to Lipari
This morning you will take the hydrofoil from Milazzo to Lipari (1 h.), the largest of the islands of the Aeolian volcanic archipelago. You will check in at a small family-run hotel near the marvellously situated port of Marina Corta, dominated by the local ‘castello’. From here you will then hike to the old Roman spa near San Calogero which offers a wonderful view of the crater of the nearby island of Volcano. On your way back to your hotel, you may want to visit the remains of the Greek tombs and the Greek theatre, as well as have a look at the site of a prehistoric village near the castle. After freshening up in your hotel you can wander through the Marina’s little streets in the evening and stop for a pre-dinner ‘aperitivo’.
Walking time : 3 hours, Altitude gain: +250 m, -250 m
Accommodation: Lipari – Meals included: 1 breakfast
Day 3 Visit of Vulcano
After breakfast you take the hydrofoil from Lipari to Vulcano (10 min.). This island, dominated by the spent crater of Vulcano della Fossa, takes its name from the Roman god ‘Vulcanus’. The Roman name for the island has then contributed the word for volcano in most modern European languages. Famous for its black beaches and thermal springs, the island is an important tourist destination during high season, while retaining its quiet and laid back character during spring and autumn. Your hike on the island will take you to the Vulcano crater where you can admire the ‘fumaroles’, openings in the earth’s crust which emit steam and gases, created when superheated water turns to steam as its pressure drops when it emerges from the ground. After your hike you will have plenty of time to lounge on the beach and visit the thermal springs where you can enjoy bathing in sulfur mud baths. In the evening you will take the hydrofoil back to Lipari. After dinner you may take another stroll through the Marina, and why not, enjoy a ‘gelato’ before turning in at the hotel.
Walking time : 3 hours, Altitude gain: +390 m, -390 m
Accommodation: Lipari – Meals included: 1 breakfast
Day 4 From Lipari to Stromboli
In the morning you will take the hydrofoil from Lipari to Stromboli (1 h.), the most northern of the Aeolian Islands and one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It was here that the heroes of Jules Verne’s ‘A Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ find themselves after having been ejected from the earth by volcanic activity. After checking in at your hotel, you may take a short hike around the little village where you will be staying, and possibly relax on the islands volcanic black beaches. In the afternoon you will pay a visit to the ‘Sciara del Fuoco’, a big horseshoe shaped depression in the summit area offering a wonderful view on the craters. After turning back to your hotel in the evening you are free to explore the little fishermen’s hamlet of Stromboli some more, and find a nice spot for dinner.
Walking time : 4 hours, Altitude gain: +400 m, -400 m
Accommodation: Stromboli – Meals included: 1 breakfast
Day 5 Visit of Stromboli
Today you will have the time to visit some more of the island, including the lovely village of San Vincenzo. After lunch you will leave for a walk to the active crater accompanied by certified volcano guides. They will take you up to the very top of the volcano, 924 m high, from where you will have the opportunity to admire the ordinary, daily volcanic activity of the island, including intermittent explosions of ashes and incandescent rock, reaching up to 120 m high. Larger events including the expulsion of large lava streams are observed regularly, last in 2002-2003 and 2007. Watching an active volcano at work is a dramatic and extremely thrilling experience. You should be aware however, that in case of adverse weather conditions and extra-ordinary volcanic activity due to safety measures the volcano guides may retain it impossible to walk up the volcano. After your visit to the Stromboli crater you will return to your hotel where you can fresh up and relax until going out to find a nice spot for dinner.
Walking time : 6 hours, Altitude gain: +924 m, -924 m
Accommodation: Stromboli – Meals included: 1 breakfast
Day 6 From Stromboli to the Sicilian mainland and Mount Etna
After breakfast at your hotel you can go out for one last stroll in the Stromboli village, after which you will hop on the hydrofoil to Milazzo again (2 h.). From the harbour of Milazzo a private transfer takes you to the mountain hotel – located at no less than 1900 m a.s.l. – on the southern slopes of Mount Etna. The Etna reaches up to over 3300 m a.s.l. and has a diameter of around 45 km, making it the largest and tallest active volcano in Europe, dominating most of the eastern half of Sicily. After your arrival at the hotel you will have time for a short walk over the so-called ‘Crateri Silvestri’ track for a first approach to the Etna activity, characterized by regular explosions and eruption of gasses and ash, followed by lava flows that constantly remodel the mountain slopes. Some of the main eruptions of the last 10 years have even caused the airport of Catania to close down. In the evening you will eat a hearty dinner based on local specialties at the hotel.
Walking time : 1,5 hours, Altitude gain: +100 m, -100 m
Accommodation: Etna – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 7 Visit of Mount Etna
Today you will visit the main body of the Etna volcano, arriving at an altitude of 2900 m a.s.l., which is the upper limit where people are allowed to walk without a certified guide. Here you will discover the line of craters that opened during the eruptions of 2002 and 2003. These events were among the most explosive of the last 100 years, erupting up to 160 million cubic metres of volcanic ash and lava. From here you have an amazing view over the Ionian Coast with the cities of Messina, Catania and Siracusa. When returning back to the hotel you will pass on the edge of the ‘Valle di Bove’, a caldera measuring 1000 metres deep and 5000 metres wide resulting from the collapse of and old crater. Today it is also possible to take an optional guided trip to the summit at the central craters (3350 m a.s.l.), arriving at 2900 m a.s.l. by cable way and 4WD and then trekking to the top. From the summit you then walk back to the hotel. Please note that the price for this optional trip is 60 euro per person. After returning to the hotel, a private transfer will take you to your evening’s hotel in Taormina where after your arrival, you have plenty of time to explore this elegant city. You may visit some of the its innumerable ancient monuments, including the anphitheatre.
Walking time : 6 hours, Altitude gain: +1000 m, -1000 m
Accommodation: Taormina – Meals included: 1 breakfast
Day 8 End of tour
The tour ends in Catania. After breakfast a private transfer will take you to the Airport.
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
All nights are spent in characteristic and comfortable hotels. All rooms have en-suite facilities.
3 dinners are included, on day 2, 3 and on the 6th day when staying on Mount Etna. On the other nights you are free to choose from the wide choice of restaurants in the cities and villages where you are staying.
No picnic lunches are included in the tour price, but these can be prepared for you by the accommodation holders, or materials for picnics can be purchased in the villages where you stay.
Night 1: The first night you are staying in nice Hotel near the historical centre of Milazzo. The city’s centre and main monuments are within easy reach.
Nights 2 & 3: These nights are spent on Lipari, the largest of the Aeolian Islands. Your charming hotel is located near the small harbour of Marina Corta.
Nights 4 & 5: These two nights last you stay in a friendly hotel at Stromboli. The hotel is centrally located, at walking distance from the seashore and the main shops of the village.
Night 6: Tonight you stay in a mountain hotel located at 1900 m a.s.l. on the slopes of Mount Etna. You will have a hearty dinner based on local dishes in the hotel.
Night 7: Your last night is spent in a comfortable hotel in the Taormina. From the hotel the city’s main monuments are easily reached.
ON THIS INDIVIDUAL SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOUR WE PROVIDE YOU WITH
• Accommodation: 1 night Milazzo, 2 nights Lipari, 2 nights Stromboli, 1 night Mt. Etna,
1 night Taormina; all nights in good **/*** hotels and family-run pensions.
• Meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 dinner
• Extensive route notes, with description of the route & tourist information
• Maps at 1 : 25.000 scale (or better)
• Certified volcano guide at Stromboli
• 24/24 h local assistance
• Transfer from Catania to Milazzo (day 1)
• Transfer from Milazzo harbour to Mt. Etna (day 6)
• Transfer from Mt. Etna to Hotel in Taormina (day 7)
• Transfer from Taormina to Catania airport (day 8)
• Departure taxes, Touris Taxes & Visas
• Travel Insurance
• Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
• Option for Etna Summit craters, guide + cable way + jeeps (€ 85 per person)
• Hydrofoil and boat transfers to/ from Aeolian islands
• Items of personal nature
• Hotel Tourist taxes
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Moderately easy (2/3): Mostly easy to moderate walks, with some walking uphill, especially on days 5 and 7.
Fitness: High standard of fitness is not necessary but you should be able to walk for up to 5/6 hours a day in hot sun on dusty or stony tracks.
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
Arrival: The tour starts in CATANIA, a city with an international airport, served by daily flights from Milan, Rome and Naples. Tours start every day during the trip season with a minimum number of participants of 2.
Departure: The tour ends after breakfast on day 8 in CATANIA. A frequent bus service or a taxi can bring you to the airport. Taxi transfers to other destinations are available on simple request.
|You can book this tour with a minimum of 1 person.|
|There are a very limited number of available places on these dates. Immediate booking is recommended.|
|Availability and prices on request.|
- Prices are per person and based on the season within which the first night of the tour falls.
- Prices are based on 2 people sharing double or twin accommodation. Single rooms (double rooms – single) are available on most trips however the supplements listed apply.
- If you are travelling alone then on some trips (which include taxi transfers) a ‘Solo Traveller Supplement’ will be applied instead of the normal single supplement.
- Prices are expressed in Euro’s. There will never be a currency surcharge.
- Actual exchange rates: GB £ - US $ - CAN $ - CHF - DKK - SEK - NOK - Other currencies.
This tour shows you the best parts of both the Aeolian Islands , as well as Mount Etna – giving you a great idea of the ‘Volcanoes of Sicily’.
It is also possible to do only one part of this tour – allowing more time for ‘in-depth’ exploration of the islands or Mount Etna, or do the whole tour in two times:
Milazzo & the Aeolian Islands – which brings you to almost all islands and includes a great walk along the northern Cape of beautiful Milazzo, too often used as ‘only’ the port to the islands.
Etna Explorer – which provides you with a full immersion in the beautiful, unreal landscapes of Mt. Etna, and the intriguing Alcantara Valley.
It is possible to include extra nights at the beginning or the end of the tour.
The tour can easily be extended with a few days in Catania or any other of the main Sicilian towns (Syracuse, Taormina, Palermo) as well as several other destinations on the island. Several good accommodations are available, ranging from 2 to 5-star). Details and prices on request.
It is possible to book an upgrade in some of the places en route. Details and prices on request.