I’m not joking,you can ski on Mount Etna!
Although manyof the accommodation of My Rental Homes in Sicily are located in the westernpart of the island, I think that the possibility of skiing on the volcano,located in the eastern part, is worth a few hours’ drive. It’s a thrillingexperience! Especially because Sicily, with its mediterranean climateand the Middle Eastern and Norman influences, looks like the mostunlikely destination for skiing.
The volcano is is located 30 km from the city of Catania and it is considered the highest active one in Europe. Apart from the Alps it is the highest peak in Italy.
The current height of Mount Etna is about 3340 m, but it varies depending on the eruptions that raise or lower its top and modify its shape.
Actually, Mount Enta is not a single volcano but a complex of several cones and fractures from which the lava comes out.
A peculiar characteristic of Mount Etna is the great geological and landscape variety: there are green forests but also desert areas covered with dark volcanic rocks.
This variety isone of the reasons behind the creation of a protected area, open to the publicfor guided tours. Furthermore, Mount Etna was declared a World Heritage Siteby UNESCO in June 2013.
There are 2 main ski resorts on the volcano.
The first one is Nicolosi, on the south side of Mount Etna.
It has slopes for expert skiers and a ski lift.
Skiing at Nicolosi is a great experience especially because of the unique scenario. There is no tall vegetation due to an eruption in the early 2000s and you can have a breathtaking view of Catania and the Mediterranean sea. If this is not enough, all you have to do is looking at the top of the volcano to take a look at the smoking summative craters.
The second one is Linguaglossa/Piano Provenza, on the north side.
This resort has both easy and difficult slopes and is equipped with a chair lift.
The landscape is totally different from Nicolosi. The pine forest creates an alpine atmosphere that clashes with the Mediterranean sea views.
The ski slopes on Mount Etna may not be as expansive and exciting as those in the Alps, but in general people say that they are smoother, less crowded and less expensive.
The smoothness is due to the lava ground that creates a more regular bottom for the snow.
Of course, on Mount Etna you can enjoy Alpine skiing, freeride skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing.
The ski lifts are open every day, even on holidays such as January 1st or similar, unless there are terrible weather conditions.
Usually at theski resorts you can rent some equipment or a ski instructor. There are alsobars or restaurants where you can eat or have a coffee.
Thanks to its height, the summit of Mount Etna may be covered with snow from November to April. The quality and quantity of snow depends a lot on the general temperatures. I think that the period between December and January is the most suitable.
In any case, the resorts are equipped with snow cannons to compensate for any lack of natural snow.
If you arelucky to be in Sicily during the last part of a snowy winter, you maybe livethe experience of skiing wearing short sleeves!
Mount Etna is an active volcano and therefore regularly erupts. Fortunately, the eruptions are not explosive and can be managed somehow. So, you don’t have to worry about finding yourself in the midst of a sudden eruption while skiing!
Moreover, in case of eruptions the ski resorts are closed.
In my opinion,the greatest thing about skiing on Mount Etna is the contrast with the restof the island. Once you get off the slopes you will find yourself in acontext that has nothing to do with snowy peaks. Sicily has beautifulcities, enchanting beaches and an exceptional sea. That’s why it isappreciated as a summer destination. However, the climate is mild even inwinter. This means that skiing on Mount Etna gives you the chance toenjoy the best of summer and winter in just a single day.