Visit a beautiful corner on the north-east side of Etna. Among craters, erupting vents, lava flows and caves, we will be able to observe how many different geological formations our beautiful Etna can create.
We get into the beech, pine and birch woods from Rifugio Citelli.
At first the path goes up and down between lava stones canyons, shaped by melted snow becoming water, and green patches.
Etna Caves: Grotta di Serracozzo
After more or less a mile we will get to Grotta di Serracozzo, created by an effusive vent during 1971 eruption.
We will discover what lays under the hard lava surface. The cave has two very different zones: entering through a very small and narrow space, we will walk for the first metres between very tall, almost glass-like walls, smoothed by lava…an incredible astonishing scenario.
Afterwards the cave becomes a downhill lavic tunnel, getting more and more narrow until we cannot stand up anymore. The floor changes becoming scoriaceous, and the roof shows beautiful denti di cane (dog’s teeth) formations.
The Grotta di Serracozzo is a great example of the 190 lava caves around Etna.
Valle del Bove
Once we get back on the surface, we will continue on our path going uphill, and after about half a kilometre we get to the edge of the Valle del Bove.
Before our eyes a stunning landscape appears: the entire valley made of 35 km2 lava flows overlapping in the past 50 years, a spectacular natural semicircular basin along the entire east side of the volcano.
This huge land has been covered by lava flows in less than 50 years, now looking like stone tongues. From that fateful 5th of April 1971 , when lava started flowing forming the Cratere di Sud Est, one after the other the eruptions have flowed into the Valle del Bove, destroying all vegetation. This valley was formed by a collapse around 9000 years ago, before Etna even existed.
Here we can also observe the magmatic dykes, a great volcanic formation especially common in this area, as well as some inactive craters. If you have a keen eye for rocks you will notice a special kind of stone called “cicirara” that is another peculiarity of the Valle del Bove. This special lava stone is enriched with plagioclase phenocrysts that are bigger than those generated nowadays.
Heading towards Pizzi Deneri, walking along the valley edge for couple of hundreds meters until we reach the bocche eruttive del 1928 ( 1928 eruptive vents).
One of the largest lateral craters of Etna: Monte Frumento delle Concazze
Leaving the 1928 lava flow we walk towards Monte Frumento delle Concazze, which is one of the biggest side craters of Etna, being 2150 mt high and 3500 years old.
This time the great amount of lava stones in front of us will appear reddish instead of black, due to the iron oxidation process. From this point of view we can observe the entire group of Crateri Sartorius , a line of craters we describe as being like a row of buttons. We enjoy the view from the north east side of Etna to the sea and beyond to Calabria.
While walking along the Bottoniera dei Sartorius, we walk through the Etna’s birch woods (an endemic tree unique to Etna) and through the 1928 lava flow before we get back to Citelli shelter.
Probably tired, but definitely happy to have enjoyed amazing landscapes and some of the most beautiful Etna’s volcanic formations.
Looking forward the next adventure together 😉