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Exploring Mount Etna with children may seem like a difficult and stressful undertaking at first. But if you exploit the children’s natural passion for nature and adventure everything becomes simpler… and the experience can be summed up in one word: caves! Etna is a volcano, and therefore its territory consists in centuries-old eruptions that left behind expanses of rock but also underground tunnels, formed by the flow of lava itself or by the movement of earthquakes. Many of these caves are deep, long, complicated, suitable for adult and experienced explorers. But there are at least three caves that can easily be explored with children. Let’s find out together which they are.

Characteristics of the caves for the little ones

Caves are often dangerous places, so in order to be accessible to children they must have certain characteristics. Don’t be too deep and steep, don’t be too convoluted… that is, with too many communicating tunnels, don’t be unsafe. A cave suitable for children will be linear, large, easily accessible from all its entrances. Possibly even luminous, although exploring dark caves with a flashlight on your helmet is an exciting adventure for the little ones. Better if it is a cave where people often go, so as not to find surprises around (pigeons, bats) along the way. On Mount Etna there are at least three caves that possess these characteristics in part or in full: Tre Livelli cave (Etna East), Ladroni cave (Etna North), Degli Archi cave (Etna West).

caves for children 2Tre Livelli Cave

Located on the eastern side of the volcano, about 15 km from Zefferana Etnea and on the road to Rifugio Sapienza, it is easily accessible from the asphalt road. Leave the car on the side of the road, just climb over the wall and you immediately descend towards the belly of Etna. The route to the Tre Level cave is quite challenging precisely because, as the name suggests (three levels), the cavity descends three floors below street level and in some places it becomes so narrow that you have to crawl on the stones. The part to be explored with children can be limited to the initial path, high enough to allow them to walk comfortably up to the next level. It will be exciting for them and easy to travel and with the helmets with torches on their heads it will seem like they are many little “Indiana Joneses”.

Ladroni Cave

Along the curvy road that climbs from Milo towards Piano Provenzana – Etna Nord there is a birch forest with a large grassy clearing in front. From this clearing you can access some cavities dug into the ground that go down a few meters deep. Access is easy thanks to some steps carved into the rock and the route is relatively short. The exciting part of this excursion is that you enter from one end of the cave and exit from a completely different end, so it will be fun for the children to find themselves so far away from the entrance! They will feel like true explorers who have been able to cross the “belly of the earth”.

Degli Archi Cave

We are in Biancavilla, on the south-west side of Etna. In this area there is the lava flow cave called “Degli Archi” (Arches). This too is spread over three levels and the upper level – due to collapses – is covered by a rock ceiling open in several points, so as to form many small “bridges” (arches). The lower levels are more complicated to explore, one is even blocked. So with children we will limit ourselves to the first one and, at most, go down a “rock slide” to the second level section of the cave.

(all photos by Grazia Musumeci)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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