What to do in Sicily? Etna of course!
People often ask us what are the main attractions or the 5 best things to do in Sicily and near the top of the list is Mount Etna, just behind visiting the town of Taormina, my husband’s home town and world famous tourist destination.
Reasons why you should see Etna:
Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe
She is 3343 meters high (or 10,902 feet above sea level)
Sicily’s most famous tourist town, Taormina, is 16 kilometeres (10 miles) away and on a clear day you can see Taormina from Etna.
You can drive up to 2000 meters, jump on the Funivia (cable car) to 2500 meters and then walk or drive to 2900 meters depending on Etna’s mood.
Etna can be seen from many kilometers away in various directions around Sicily but her peak is often shrouded in clouds. If you want to go, it's best to go up in the morning as it is often clearer.
Etna is also known as 'Aitna' (in Greek) which means ‘burn’.
There are many Roman and Greek myths about the volcano but the one I like the most is about the Greek Goddess, Persephone, daughter of Zeus. Legend says Persephone liked to pick the beautiful flowers on slopes of the Mount Etna and dance with the Nymphs on the plains of Enna (nearby town). Hades was in love with Persephone and abducted her, as Greek Gods do, and took her to the Underworld by opening a portal to the Underworld being the crater of Etna. You can see the natural posies of the flowers Persephone loved all over the mountain, so easy to imagine the legend is true, especially if you have a mind like mine that loves myths, legends and a little King Arthur or Lord of the Rings!
There are many amazing and world famous wineries around the base of Etna. On our 2017 Sicily tour we stopped and ate a 5 course degustation of local salami, cheeses and pastas with the accompanying wines under the trees in the garden. What a pleasant way to relax after going up Etna!
Etna is quite accessible for the young and ‘young at heart’ with the Funivia to 2500 meters and even the four wheel drive trucks to 2900 meters.
There is a feeling from being on Etna that brings to mind words like ‘awesome’, ‘breathtaking’, and as you drive away you think ‘I’m glad I did that!’.
The Eolian Island of Stromboli also has a active volcano and you can bathe in the sulphuric waters on the nearby island of Vulcano!
Check out some more of our photos of Etna, Eolian Islands and photos from Sicily on our photo gallery page: