Etna National Park. “Nord” side.
We start from the north area of the volcano along the man-made ring of the so called “wine road”.
Linguaglossa is a small village situated in on the Etna Nord side. Well known for its production of Etna wines and typical Sicilian foods like hazelnut..
From here we start driving on the Mareneve road, the only way to access the whole of Etna’s northern area. This road climbs on the volcano slopes, crossing and following old shepherds paths. We will enjoy a varied landscape that goes from old lava flows to ancient woods.
Heading down south, towards the summit area, we meet the ancient Pineta Ragabo, the biggest larch pine woods in Sicily. This wood was probably used by the Romans as a source of wood for ship building. The resin in these conifers was also harvested to be used as glue in the ship building process.
Lava Front 2002
At around 1100 mt high, we leave the road and join a path that leads us to the lava front of 2002 lava flow. Here, standing in front of that massive amount of rocks even if now cold and hard, we can see the destructive power of nature. We can nearly feel the power of such a lava flow, that in only 10 days time flowed for about 13 km, luckily stopping 5 km outside Linguaglossa.
Etna Nord Caves: Grotta Corruccio
The route of Etna Nord continues to climb to 1395 m a.s.l. to experience a new adventure: briefly walking through a woods we get deep inside the Muntagna heart, a lava flow cave called Grotta di Corruccio. That is one of the 190 lava flow caves on Etna and we are about to discover what lies under the hard volcanic surface. We leave the surface and go inside the Muntagna to find out its hidden secrets. These tunnels are created during eruptions, through incandescent lava flows that reach 700/1000 degrees.
While the lava gets cold and hard on the outside, it creates a sort of shell that, once solidified, allows the lava flowing inside to keep its temperature. The lava stays hot and fluid continuing to flow until it empties the shell creating a cavity. And that is how a new cave is formed.
Our journey continues through the Pineta Ragabo until we cross a lava tongue that literally splits it in two. We meet once again the 2002 lava flow and follow it upwards until the ski station at 1800 mt a.s.l.
We get in Piano Provenzana where there is no more paved roads: from here on we can only get on by walking or through paths by special off-road vehicles .
From here on we meet, cross and follow lava fields and the big Bottoniera craters of the 2002 eruption, up to the last eruptive cones formed at 2400 mt a.s.l.
We also cross the craters formed in 1809 along the same fault, the Pernicana fault, one of the most active of Etna, today also known as the north east rift. This fracture causes deformations that go from 2 to 4 cm each year.
Piano delle Concazze and volcanological observatory “Pizzi Deneri”
We are now proceeding through the bare lava with less and less vegetation around, towards north east crater. Once we reach Piano delle Concazze, we start seeing the volcanologists observatory of Pizzi Deneri (2847 m a.s.l.).
You would feel like being on the roof of the world, if it was not for the giant north east crater above us.
From Pizzi Deneri top you can admire the entire ski area and the whole north east side, a great part of north east coast of Sicilia up to the Peloritani mountains, Calabrian coasts, and looking southwards the Valle del Leone and obviously the summit craters with the biggest of them all being right in front of us: the north east crater.