Volcanoes of Sicily: Etna & the Aeolian Islands - SIC3
Volcanoes of Sicily. Mt. Etna & the Aeolian Islands
Exploring the dramatic volcanic landscapes of Sicily
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. Its volcanoes are still ‘alive’, amongst the most active of the world. Man & nature have lived together here for thousands of years, creating an extra-ordinary landscape, which now for a good reason is listed as UNESCO World Heritage.
The small island of Lipari is the most inhabited of the islands, with a few villages, agricultural landscapes and a well developed road system, while Stromboli and Vulcano are only home to tiny fishermen’s villages hiding under imposing volcanic cones. The volcanic nature, although often destructive, has also brought an extra-ordinary fertility to these islands– which you can taste in some of the very good wines produced on the islands!
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 black 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.
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 ‘fumarole’ 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 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 your stay on in this little paradise, you’ll travel to ‘mainland’ Sicily. Here 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.
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. 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!
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.
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.
Hotel in Milazzo
Total walking time: around 1 hour + sightseeing timedinner.
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’.
Hotel in Lipari
Total walking time: around 3 hours, Altitude gain: +250 m, -250 m
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.
Hotel in Lipari
Total walking time: 3 hours, Altitude gain: +390 m, -390 m
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 can 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. N.B. In alternative you can do this also at night – a unique experience!
Hotel in Stromboli
Total walking time: 4 hours, Altitude gain: +400 m, -400 m
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.
Hotel in Stromboli
Total walking time: 6 hours, Altitude gain: +900 m, -900 m
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, characterised 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.
Hotel on Mt. Etna
Total walking time: 1,5 hours, Altitude gain: +100 m, -100 m
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 there you then walk back to the cable car station, or you can even opt to walk the whole way back to the hotel. After returning to the hotel you pick up your luggage and travel down to Catania (optional private transfer straight to your hotel). In Catania you settle in your hotel and you have time to explore this bustling city. You can visit some of the Greek remains or choose to admire the many baroque ‘palazzi’ and churches located in the heart of the city centre, before going for a great meal in town.
Hotel in Catania
Total walking time: 6 hours, Altitude gain: +100 m, -1000 m
N.B. It is also possible to spend another night on Mount Etna – and return to Catania the next day. Or you can opt for a few days in the elegant city of Taormina, to end your journey. You can spend a few days in this beautifully located charming small town, with some of the world’s most splendid ancient monuments , including the stunning amphitheatre.
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 and family-run guesthouses. All rooms have en-suite facilities.
Almost all accommodations are on BB basis. Dinners are not included, except on the 6th night when you will be staying on Mount Etna. On the other nights you are free to choose from the wide choice of restaurants in the towns and villages where you’ll be 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 Catania; all nights in good **/*** hotels and family-run guesthouses.
• Meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 dinner
• Extensive route notes, with description of the route & tourist information
• Maps at 1 : 25.000 scale (or better)
• 24/24 h local assistance
• Private transfers as specified
• Departure taxes, Touris Taxes & Visas
• Travel Insurance
• Hydrofoil and boat transfers to/ from Aeolian Islands (estimated cost: €70,00 – €80,00 per person)
• Volcano guide at Stromboli / Mt. Etna
• Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
• Optional additional tours or activities
• Items of personal nature
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Moderately easy (2/3): Mostly moderate walks, with some walking uphill, especially on days 5 and 7.
Fitness: Good standard of fitness is necessary; 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.
Departure: The tour ends 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.
|15 March - 04 April 2020||€ 550||€ 225||€ 310||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|05 April - 30 April 2020||€ 580||€ 230||€ 315||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 May - 31 May 2020||€ 595||€ 230||€ 315||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 June - 30 June 2020||€ 640||€ 240||€ 325||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 July - 31 July 2020||€ 695||€ 250||€ 335||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 August - 31 August 2020||€ 820||€ 390||€ 475||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 September - 30 September 2020||€ 670||€ 250||€ 335||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 October - 31 October 2020||€ 580||€ 230||€ 315||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 November - 05 November 2020||€ 550||€ 225||€ 310||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|06 November 2020 - 14 March 2021||- - -||- - -||- - -||CONTACT US|
|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.
PLEASE NOTE THAT WE OFFER THIS PROGRAMME ONLY ON REQUEST.
BECAUSE OF THE HIGH TRANSPORT COSTS FOR INDIVIDUAL TRAVELLERS, WE RECOMMEND THIS TOUR FOR SMALL GROUPS OF AT AT LEAST 4 TRAVELLERS.
FOR INDIVIDUAL TRAVELLERS WE RECOMMEND TO DO OUR SHORT ‘DRIVE & HIKE’ TOUR AROUND MT. ETNA & TAORMINA – IN COMBINATION WITH THE AEOLIAN ISLANDS WALKING TOUR. This way you can take in the best parts of both the Aeolian Islands , as well as Mount Etna – giving you a great idea of the ‘Volcanoes of Sicily’.
Stromboli can also be visited as a day trip from Lipari, so you could spend 3 nights in Lipari, rather than 2 in Lipari and 2 on Stromboli. And of course there are other islands to visit too, like beautiful Salina. Check out our Aeolian Islands tour as well.
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 of the other major 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 also possible to do only one part of this tour, or do the whole tour in two times, which gives you the opportunity to do some more ‘in-depth’ explorations:
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.
Please note that early in the season (until the end of April) and later in the season (from October on) the slopes of Mount Etna are often covered in snow and therefore many of the hikes are not possible.
In these cases we recommend to book our ‘Mythical Volcanoes of Sicily’ tour, which gives you the possibility to explore the Aeolian Islands more ‘in-depth’ and spend a few nights in Catania – with either a day trip to Mount Etna or one overnight stay there.
This tour of the Aeolian Islands can also easily be combined with a ‘Drive & Hike’ tour, which includes the best parts of South-eastern Sicily – including Mt. Etna !
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.