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We want to tell you five things you (maybe!) don’t know about the Sicilian cold season, especially the Etna winter. Mount Etna is the highest mountain on the whole island, so it is normal that it is the place where the seasons are more pronounced. And winter, when it arrives, arrives at its best! But do not make the mistake of underestimating this season just because here, in Sicily, we are a stone’s throw from Africa. The winter on Mt Etna hides some secrets. And it is good to know this before booking a holiday or an excursion here in this season.

Winter on Mt Etna … comes late

Winter on Mt Etna comes quite late. Or rather, above an altitude of 3000 metres, snow and ice already form in early December, but often do not last. And in any case they do not concern the entire body of the volcano. Snow and cold here on Etna come between the end of January and March. In this period, the temperatures really drop and you can have snow even at low altitudes, to the delight of the residents and operators of the ski resorts.

Winter on Mt Etna and religious festivals

Along with winter, many religious festivals begin on Etna. In particular, the most beautiful holidays of this season are celebrated between December 4th and February 5th. The southern slope begins, with the feast of Santa Barbara in Paternò, it continues with Santa Lucia in Aci Catena, Pedara and Belpasso, with Santo Stefano in Aci Bonaccorsi. In January San Mauro (Viagrande), Sant’Antonio (Aci Sant’Antonio) and San Sebastiano (Acireale) are celebrated amidst fireworks and spectacular processions. The great winter marathon of saints festivities ends with the three-day event of St Agatha, in Catania. Seventy-two hours of celebration from 3 to 5 February during which an entire large city stops.

The “white smokes”

It often happens in mid-morning, or even more close to sunset, in winter. If you look at Etna from any point on the coast you will see it dotted with white smokes that rise from every corner. They are the farmers’ bonfires that burn dead branches and leaves, cleaning the land while waiting for seasonal fruits. But the “smokes” are also those of the fireplaces and stoves of the many mountain villages, which make the atmosphere pleasant and romantic.

winter etna 5 things 02The most beautiful sunsets

Winter sunsets on Etna are a unique spectacle. Incredible colours appear in the sky every sunny afternoon, favoured by the humidity and cold winds. The ideal would be to admire them from the top of the volcano, or from the most famous refuges (especially from Sapienza). But it is also wonderful to watch these sunsets from the north-east side, with the mass of the mountain standing out against the light with the setting sun behind it.

Etna winter, between lava and snow

Etna is not always erupting in this season, but when it does it is fantastic to admire the encounter between lava and snow. The incredibly hot with the incredibly cold can together form breathtaking scenes but also dangerous situations. In fact, if lava meets pits filled with snow or ice it can cause explosions. If you want to go and see an eruption in winter, rely on a serious and expert guide who knows where to stop. Sometimes it’s better to stay away to better enjoy a natural event, without risking your life unnecessarily.

Some more advice

In our opinion, the most beautiful places – absolutely to visit – in winter, here, are: Piano Provenzana, the pine forest of Linguaglossa, the Montagnola, the village of Milo, the town of Nicolosi, the districts between Bronte and Maletto. If you move independently make sure you have snow chains on board the vehicle. If you go on an excursion, rely on local guides and find out about suitable clothing.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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