In this full day Etna and Alcantara Gorges excursion departing from Giardini, Dream Island will make you explore two wonderful and unique landscapes of Sicily. Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Alcantara Gorges
This Etna and Alcantara Gorges excursion from Giardini will start in Suv or minivan and then proceed off-road. The first stop of our tour is an off-road route up to the 27/10/2002 lava front, the biggest eruption in the last twenty years that destroyed the ski facilities of Piano Provenzana and most of the Ragabo Pine Forest (Pineta Ragabo). Afterwards we will proceed up to the starting point of our the trek.
Our hike will start from elevation 1650 meters and go up to elevation 1750 meters (it is possible to request a reservation to go up to 2050 meters).
We will hike along an easy path, among birch trees and lateral craters the so-called “Bottoniera” craters, the Sartorius Craters (Monti Sartorius), on the north-eastern side of Etna. Once at the top we will reach some wonderful viewpoints, here you’ll be able to enjoy looking at: to the west Mount Frumento delle Concazze, with an elevation of 2151 meters it’s one of Etna’s largest craters; to the front you can admire the Ionian Sea, and the Nebrodi and Peloritani mountain ranges.
Before starting our descent we will visit the Cave of Thieves (Grotta dei Ladroni or also known as Grotta della Neve), a lava flow tunnel which we will explore, equipped with helmets and flashlights, and learn about its creation and history.
We will then go back to Linguaglossa to take a lunch break in a local restaurant, lunch is included in the price.
They are part of a well-known scenic route originated by the 1865 eruption on Etna’s northern side. They are named after the German volcanologist Wolfgang Sartorius. The eruption formed seven “bottoniera” craters, they are the main attraction of a landscape that is still mostly barren but in which nature is slowly sprouting again. It’s a trail suitable for hikers of any skill level, one of the first trails marked by the Etna Park.
It’s a lava cave, easy to reach and visit, located in the “Piano delle Donne” at 1540 meters of altitude. It was excavated by hand in 1776, we can find this date carved into a rock at the entrance. In addition to the construction of steps and the enlargement of what originally was a lava flow tunnel some holes were drilled in the vault to allow snow to accumulate during winter, to be used in the warmer seasons in the ice trade market.
After lunch we will drive through Castiglione di Sicilia: it’s one of the most beautiful towns in Italy with its features similar to those of a medieval village, it’s also famous for its wineries that produce an excellent Etna DOC (if you are a wine lover you might want to check out these tours: “Etna and wine tasting” and “Etna wine tasting”).
Our Etna and Alcantara Gorges excursion from Giardini will then come to an end with the visit of the Alcantara Gorges (also known as the “Gorges of Larderia”). Situated in the Alcantara Valley where the Peloritani mountain range ends in the municipalities of Castiglione di Sicilia and Motta Camastra (one of the places where some scenes of the famous movie “The Godfather” were filmed, if you are a fan of this masterpiece you have to check out our “Godfather Tour”).
It flows among the lava rock which also forms its natural riverbed. Its origin is in the Nebrodi Mountains at 1400 meters of altitude, the river is 53 Km long (3 of which are easily accessible).
Its name comes from the Arabic-derived term “Al-Qantarah” (“The Bridge”, referring to an ancient Roman bridge).
The peculiarity of the Alcantara Groges comes from the structure of its walls, created by 300.000 years old basaltic lava flows (poor in silicon but rich in iron, magnesium and calcium), they are about ten meters high and they are a sight to behold! The lava cooled very rapidly, creating pentagonal and hexagonal prismatic shapes, reminiscent of the molecular structure of its materials.