TRANSFEERO: Reliable airport transfers worldwide
Book a private transfer at over 1500 airports, stations and ports worldwide

The Etna villages of Vena and Presa have also become a “internet joke” some time ago. This is thanks to the bizarre idea of the municipality of Piedimonte Etneo to arrange the signs of the municipal medical lab close to those of the two villages. “Vena” in italian means “vein” and “Presa” can be also translated as “took”, “got”. So you read: medical lab took (got) the vein, and many people laughed at those “good doctors” who would tell the world how did they do blood analysis! But there is more to say about these hamlets surrounded by oaks and chestnuts. So let’s explore together. Let’s go beyond the medical lab … we don’t need it! … and continue towards Vena and Presa.

Vena, the water source found by Mary

The small pink bell tower stands out among the green of the woods, just below – as the crow flies! – the large active craters of the volcano. When there are eruptions it is suggestive to see, thanks to the perspective, the fountains of fire gushing above the crucifix and it seems a miracle that they don’t cover everything with lapilli! But the real miracle, here in Vena, took place in the 6th century.

A small community of monks fleeing persecution found shelter in the woods of Mount Etna and moved here with the few pieces of baggage carried on the back of a mule. At a certain point the mule carrying the cedar table with the Madonna painted on it stopped and began to dig the hard lava ground with its hooves. Miraculously, a small stream (also translated in Italian as “vein”) of pure water began to gush from those scratches! There the monks founded the Basilian monastery on the remains of which today stands the pink church, built in the early 20th century.

The sanctuary, whose cult is widespread on the east side of the volcano, still houses the ancient icon painted on wood, with clear Byzantine features – although perhaps it is only a copy of an older image, reinterpreted by local artists in the 13th century. Those who come up here driven by something other than faith will still be able to admire the spectacular panorama of Etna, on one side, and of the Sicilian east coast on the other.

Presa, the heir to the fiefdom


vena and presa etna 2
photo www facebook com ilborgodiPresa

The territory that today belongs to the village of Presa belonged in the early Middle Ages to those monks who had founded the sanctuary of the Madonna della Vena. The convent and its property bore the name of St Basilio. And with this name the territory became a property of the noble Gravina family in 1398.

Thanks to the beauty of the woods and the richness in waters, the feud quickly became very important. Its wells, among other things, supplied water for drinking and for crops to the whole district. In fact, the current name derives from the reference presa dell’acqua “to take the water” – with which the farmers indicated it.

Today the village continues to live on agriculture, but summer tourism helps it to sustain itself considerably. The main church of the Madonna delle Grazie and the smaller one of the Calvario are the religious and artistic reference points of the place. Recently many interesting events keep the small village alive and you can also see some beautiful murals in the alleys. The panorama of Etna and the proximity of Piedimonte and Linguaglossa complete the itinerary.

Vena, Presa and the volcano

Vena and Presa are both hamlets of the municipality of Piedimonte Etneo, one of the “gates to Etna” that connects the east side to the north. The town, also rich in churches, vineyards and panoramas, is one of the starting points of many paths that climb up the north side of the volcano. Together with Linguaglossa it is one of the most popular tourist centers on Etna. It is also the capital of good wine!

Vena and Presa are the ideal solution for tourists who want to get closer to Etna while maintaining a link with the locals, with the small ancient traditions of the land. There are no luxury hotels nor super-equipped facilities here, but the small family B&Bs are ready to welcome anyone who wants to have this experience.

How to get there

To reach Piedimonte Etneo and the two hamlets we have told you about, from the A18 Messina-Catania motorway exit at Fiumefreddo and continue towards Piedimonte Etneo. Both at the entrance to the town and inside you will find specific signs for the two villages. (photo above the title by )

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

Airport Transfers