READY, STEADY, GO!
We start our trekking at 1740m, from Citellu Refuge, n°15 base point of the Etna Park. We enter in birches, pines and beeches woods. At the start, the path is marked by an alternation of up-and-down trails walking in lava stone canyons, smoothed by the water of melting snow. We will also come across areas of more or less dense greenery.
After about 1,5km we reach Serracozzo cave, which was created by one of the eruptive vents in the eruption of 1971.
The Serracozzo cave is a perfect example of the about 190 lava flow caves scattered on the Etna surface. These tunnels originated during eruptions, through the incandescent lava flowing, which takes place when its temperature is still between 1100°C and 700°C. The cave is caratherized by two parts, very different from each other: while the entrance roof is low and narrow, we will find ourselves, for the first dozens of meters, between high walls, which are smooth, almost glass-like, due to the lava blunting action, ... a rather surprising and evocative view.
Thereafter, making our way down, the cave becomes a lava tunnel whose height decreases until it will not allow us to keep a standing a posture. Here everything changes: the walls' surface becomes scoriaceus and the vault is now characterized by the beautiful formations of "dog's teeth".
FACING THE VALLE DEL BOVE
Once we resurface, we start back on the path, trekking up and, after about half a km, we reach the Ox Valley's edge. Before our eyes, a breathtaking view: the whole valley looms with its 35 square km made of lava flows, overlapping each other as of the last 50 years.
Our eyes can look over an enormous space, the most extraordinary spectacle in nature, a big semicircular basin that deeply carves the whole oriental slope of the volcano. We can admire a plane full of lava flows that, as motionless rock spits in front of us, testifies how Etna's activity could cover such a wide surface in barely half century.
Observing the landscape we can also easily recognize the geological structure that was here before Etna existed and that, because of its collapse, gave way to the Ox Valley about 9000 years ago.
In this place we can appreciate the magmatic dikes, an interesting formation here which particuraly noticeable, as well as some extinct craters. Another valley's feature that will definitely catch he viewer's eye is the so called Cicirara stone .
We keep moving towards Pizzi Deneri peak, following the valley's edge for some hundreds meters, until we get to the eruptive vents of 1928.
MONTE FRUMENTO DELLE CONCAZZE
We leave the ridge, go over the 1928 lava flow and go ahead towards Frumento delle Concazze mountain, one of biggest lateral Etna craters. It is at 2150m and it originated around 3500 years ago. In contrast to what we were able to notice up until now, this eruptive cone material colour is quite reddish, due to the oxidation process of the iron contained in the lava.
From this view point, we can comprehensively admire all of Sartorius craters on its typical "button line" layout. We can enjoy the landscape, the eye overlooks a big part of the North Eastern slope to the sea and, farther, you can even see Calabria. We return to the Etna's birches woods (an endemic specie typical of this area) before going back to the Citelli Refuge. We are probably tired yet satisfied of having admired breathtaking landscapes and some of the most beautiful geological fomations of Etna. See you on the next adventure!