One of my dreams came true this summer. One early august morning we packed the car and started three day road trip in Sicily. The plan was to see some of the amazing places around the island, but there was one place I was waiting to see more than the others; Etna.
We arrived to Catania late evening and staid one night in a beautiful hotel Villa Itria just few kilometers away from the national park where Vulcan Etna is situated. Even though you can experience Etna without a guide, we had booked guided tour (Etna Excursion) as it is more safe and gives explicit details about the mysterious mountain. I highly recommend the guided tours and you can find many different options with different activities.
Our guide picked us with a Jeep 10 am in sunny Sunday morning and we started our four hours tour around Etna. We stopped several times on our way up and saw not only the different periods there has been in the history of Etna but also the famous four seasons Etna has. The beginning of the trip is so green and full of life, but more up you go, more you realize how the nature around you changes and becomes barren.
You should know there is always a lot people around the park when the weather is nice. We were 5 in out tour, and you can book as small or big groups you want.
We went all the way to the Rifugio Sapienza stop in 1900m. This is the last stop where you can arrive with normal vehicles and bikes and it has some small souvenir shops where you can buy local products. This time we did not go more high up, but if you want to go on from this point you need a different guided tour which will take you up to 2500m with special cars. It is also possible to walk but the 600m to the next step can take easily 2 hours in one way. There is also special tours which go all the way up to the craters of Etna but for those trips it is recommended to have a good physical health as the air is thin and cold.
Overall the Etna experience for me was more than I asked for and full of emotions. The place is just amazing and full of natures mysteries. I can never show you enough photos or write enough words to explain how Etna and the park around is. I recommend everyone traveling in Sicily to go and see it, and I cannot wait to go there again!