LivingTravelTop 10 things to do around Etna, Sicily

Top 10 things to do around Etna, Sicily

As the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, at just under 10,000 square miles, there is a lot of ground to cover on a visit to Sicily. The island of southern Italy is certainly part of its mother boot country, but a distinct culture makes this place worth a detour. As the locals say, “Sicily is Sicily” (unlike Sicily it’s Italy). And as with most European destinations, Sicily has many regions to consider when planning a trip. However, if you prioritize great cuisine and a bit of adventure, look no further than the eastern side of the island where Mount Etna reigns. Here are the top 10 things to do when you get there.

Hike on Mount Etna

Mount Etna, the volcano that follows you around here, is the name of the entire region. History indicates that Mount Etna has been periodically belching lava and ash since 425 BC. C., the last recorded eruption was as recent as 2017. It is a powerful force to have in the landscape, with plenty of mythical charm (Greek mythology says this is the burial place of a giant killed by Zeus) and much to tempt thrill seekers. Despite the fact that this volcano erupts all the time, people still like to walk on it. And there are many routes, from footpaths and jeep paths to helicopters and cable cars. Parco dell’Etna is the best place to start and lists several routes of varying difficulty, as well as guide services and points of interest.

Go wine tasting

This region of Sicily is a favorite of many connoisseurs of the wine industry. The volcanic soil and the influence of Mount Etna and the climate of the southern Mediterranean create distinctive, complex and memorable wines. There are many wineries and vineyards to choose from if you are interested in taking a little tasting tour. Most of the small hillside towns that dot the landscape here are very sleepy and there isn’t much nightlife. But you are likely to run into other oenophiles looking for these wonderful wines. Those in the know like to end a tasting day at Cave Ox restaurant in the small town of Solicchiata, where local winemakers and tasters come to eat and drink some more. The extensive wine list and regional dishes further deepen the Etna experience, making it a great find when there are few options in these laid-back mountain towns.

Start your southern wine tour at Milo in Barone di Villagrande, a 10th-generation family estate specializing in vibrant whites. Further north, near the town of Linguaglossa (which means big tongue, named for the tongues of lava running down the hill from the volcano), stop at Pietradolce’s modern tasting room, very soon to open, and get Take a behind-the-scenes look at this magical property by agronomist Giuseppe Parlavecchio.

Visit a fish market

The city of Catania is located at the southern tip of the Mount Etna region and, compared to the other cities in the area, it is a large and bustling city. Since Sicily is an island, seafood takes center stage in the kitchen here, and there is no better place to feel the bounty of the surrounding Mediterranean Sea than at the Catania fish market. Open every morning, the entrance to the market (or pescheria, in Italian) is hidden behind the famous Amenano Baroque Fountain and Piazza del Duomo, so you can go sightseeing while shopping for dinner.

Take a cooking class

An ancient Sicilian dessert, ricotta pancakes dipped in honey and cinnamon, inspired Cotumè’s proprietary chefs to use food as a way to tell the story of Sicily. A cooking class with them is an interactive education on the flavors of this island and its rich and rich history. Not only will you learn that most of the cakes here are deep-fried, but the lard is the key to getting them to break in your mouth without being oily. Or that the famous cupcakes called Minni di Sant Aita , wrapped in green marzipan and topped with a maraschino cherry, are shaped like such in memory of Santa Águeda’s breasts, really. You can make brioche rolls filled with custard, topped with breadcrumbs and fried, a Catania specialty called Iris. Then you will make fresh pasta, in various special forms with very specific techniques, sautéed with pesto alle mandorle (almond pesto).

Ride the train

Imagine yourself strolling down a century-old road, heading to a winery or church, and suddenly a small old train turns the corner. The Ferrovia Circumetnea seems to belong to an amusement park, but in reality it is a real train in operation. This narrow gauge railway line, built in the late 19th century, almost completely encircles Mount Etna. What was once a steam engine is now an updated diesel locomotive, but that’s what the modern era has influenced the train. Take a walk for a very authentic trip around the volcano.

Eat dessert for breakfast

Sicily gets very hot. So in the summer when the weather is hot, people start the day by eating something cold with their morning coffee. Granita, the ice cream and slushie mix, originated in Sicily but is enjoyed all over Italy. However, depending on where you are, the texture varies, from thick and thick to smooth like sorbet. The above style is how you will find it served in the Etna region, where legend has it that the slush was originally made from the snow that covers Mount Etna. For breakfast, you can order the fresh treat along with a great brioche bun for dipping. Almond and lemon are perhaps the most traditional flavors, but go for pistachio if you see it on sale.

Visit a castle

From a distance, the rocky jumble of a town called Castiglione di Sicilia looks like it could crumble into the Alcántara river valley at any moment. This small town has a rich and varied history, beginning when the Greeks established a fortress here. There are many monuments to see, and you can take a walking tour to see the various churches and towers and such. One of these historical sites is the Castello Di Lauria, which appears to belong to an episode of Game of Thrones. Hours can be erratic, so plan ahead if you want to get a closer look at the actual ruins.

Tour the farms

The volcanic soil of Mount Etna offers fertile ground for more than just wine grapes. Each city in the region offers a delicious agricultural product and following an agricultural route is a fun and delicious way to experience everything that Sicily grows. Perhaps the most famous is Bronte, northwest of Etna, famous for the green gold pistachios that are incredibly expensive due to the difficulty of harvesting them. Trees grow in lava and only produce every two years, so it is much more special to grab a few when you can find them. The town of Maletto has strawberries and cherries which is what you will get in Mascali, a small town that was completely destroyed by an explosion from Etna in the early 20th century. The aptly named Zafferana Etnea is the saffron destination, but you can get a good pot of honey there too.

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Experience a Palmento

Today’s modern winemaking facilities can be like clinical laboratories: sharp, clean and sterile. But in ancient times in Sicily, most of the winemaking was done in what is called a “Palmento”. It is basically a multi-room cellar, built with lava stone, which varies in level so that gravity controls the flow of the crushed grape juice, leading it to tanks for fermentation. While it is quite common to come across a Palmento in Sicily, current EU food safety laws prohibit the making of wine in them. But that doesn’t stop the owners of these properties in their efforts to restore, renovate and use their special Palmenti. Several wineries display the ancient spaces, using them as historical landmarks. Others are renovating them to use as accommodation, restaurants or even spas. Tenuta Fessina in Castiglione di Sicilia. Owner Silvia Maestrelli has made this a unique destination where you can eat, drink and sleep in what was once a 17th century Palmento.

Ir at a pastry shop

There is no better way to get the essence of true Sicilian food than in a traditional pasticceria (pastry), found in each and every city you pass through. The first pastry shops in Sicily were monasteries, so even today, pasticcerias are considered sacred. Cannoli is what we all know best, but there are so many variations across the island that you could eat one a day and never have the same experience twice. In the Etna region, a common way to find cannoli is stuffed with sheep’s milk ricotta and dipped in those Bronte “green gold” pistachios. But there are many other desserts to try, and in true Sicilian style, their names are inspired by dramatic folklore. You’ve already heard of Agatha’s breasts (sponge cake, green marzipan, sheep’s ricotta, cherry), but what about those Pali del Nonno? or grandpa’s testicles (fried ricotta balls)?

Sicily: Etna spits out kilometers of ash cloud – airport closed

Etna volcano in Sicily is spewing smoke again. A kilometer-high ash cloud can be seen in the pictures. Catania Airport is temporarily closed.

Etna volcano in Sicily erupts – airport temporarily closed

The eruption of the Etna volcano paralyzes the airport of the city of Catania in Sicily. A huge column of smoke rises above the mountain.

Explosion brings house to collapse – dead and missing

At least two people die in a house collapse in Sicily after a gas explosion. Several people are still missing.

Etna “nightmare” in Sicily: the volcano continues to rage

Mount Etna has kept Sicily in suspense since the beginning of the year. Now the volcano in Italy is waking up again - at the same time as a "hurricane".

Etna in Sicily: volcanic eruption as a "nightmare"

Mount Etna has kept Sicily in suspense since the beginning of the year. Now the volcano in Italy is waking up again - at the same time as a "hurricane".