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Sicily's Fiery Furnace: Mt. Etna

Planning a visit to Mt. Etna

Mt. Etna got its name from the Phoenician word for chimney. This smoldering furnace towers 11,000 feet above the eastern coastline of Sicily and is Europe’s largest live volcano and one of the planet’s most active. The peak of Etna is a series of pock marks created by craters that constantly reshape the landscape with every new eruption. If you’re looking for things to do in Sicily, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a great day trip for everyone from adventure travelers to Italy to nature enthusiasts. Here are our tips for planning a visit to Mt. Etna:


Image: A view of Mt. Etna, one of the world's most active volcanos; Harvey Barrison, Flickr

Ferrovia Circumetnea -- This train offers travelers an armchair view of the National Park as it encircles the base of the volcano. The two-hour scenic route features stops at a number of quaint Sicilian villages and affords spectacular views of the smoldering Mt. Etna.

Funivia delí Etna -- The funicular cable car transports visitors straight up the face of the mountain where they can hike or climb aboard 4 by 4 buses that shuttle to the Silvestri Craters.

Mt. Etna’s Wildlife -- While you’re likely to spy fox, martens, rabbits and wild cats, the more exciting sightings are the peregrines, golden eagles and other birds of prey these small mammals help to feed.

What to see on Mt. Etna -- Expect to see solidified rivers of lava, fields of lava craters that create the moon-like surface and breathtaking views of the Isle of Sicily.

What you’ll learn -- Explore the scientific explanations behind Etna and its nearly-constant state of eruption as well as its place in Italian history.

What to bring to Mt. Etna -- Water, good walking shoes and layers. Remember, due to the elevation, it can get quite chilly and the weather changes rapidly, even in the summertime.

Visitor Warning -- Never venture to the craters without a qualified guide. Not only is this an active volcano, it’s also a steep mountain face with rocky outcroppings and sheer drops.

You can experience Mt. Etna, and other natural wonders, with Travcoa. This luxury travel company offers small-group Escorted Journeys as well as Private tours and Custom travel to Italy and other exciting destinations throughout the world. To learn more about Travcoa’s unique travel destinations, or to make reservations, call your travel agent or a Travcoa Journey Consultant at 1-800-992-2003, or email

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Topics: Italy