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There is some confusion on Mount Etna regarding these two “mountains”, Mount Pomiciaro and Mount Zoccolaro. There is a Monte Pomiciaro Road that climbs towards Monte Zoccolaro but it is not clear to many if and where a real Mount Pomiciaro exists. The turth is, this “mountain” does exists. And together with its twin it forms a very touristy and easy route, with the prospect of spectacular views over the Valle del Bove and the summit craters of the volcano. But you cannot speak of one of the two mountains without automatically including the other. So let’s get to know them, before discovering them physically with a guided tour.

Mount Pomiciaro


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a lava flow seen from Pomiciaro

Mount Pomiciaro rises so close to its twin Zoccolaro that it is often confused with it, as if the name of one was synonymous with the name of the other. Mount Pomiciaro is a very old extinct crater, now buried by a luxuriant vegetation. The name suggests, erroneously, about the pumice stone, even if in-depth studies have shown that there is no trace of it. According to other theories, the name derives from the apple trees (in Sicilian, “pedi i puma”) that arise in the area below, hence the word “pumiciaru”.

The paths that climb to the top of the Pomiciaro are part of a wider route that can also include the Ilice di Carrinu, Piano del Vescovo and the Acquarocca waterfalls. The route then merges with the paths of Mount Zoccolaro until you get to the panoramic view over Valle del Bove. On Mount Pomiciaro there is also an tourist farm-house and a point of naturalistic interest, the beech of Mount Pomiciaro. This tree, 20 meters high and with a trunk diameter of 7, is certainly a centuries-old plant. Estimated age? Probably 200 years old.

Mount Zoccolaro

Between Pomiciaro and Zoccolaro there is a beautiful lookout point over the Valle del

pomiciaro & zoccolaro_3
the view from Zoccolaro

Bove. Easily reachable by car, from Via Cassone-SP 92 of Zafferana Etnea, it provides a parking lot right next to the panoramic balcony. From this first position you can admire the Valle del Bove with all the ancient lava flows and the coast. It is more difficult, however, to see the summit craters hidden by the vegetation.

From the viewpoint of Mount Zoccolaro (the name derives from “zuccu”, trunk, due to its ancient use as a wood reserve) the path starts which reaches the top of the hill, about 330 meters high. The path is not difficult nor long, but you have to be careful because in some points it is overhanging the valley and there are not parapets, sometimes! You walk in the shade of poplars, beeches, brooms up to a barren lava peak, marked by a cross. It is one of the privileged points to witness the eruptions of Etna. Many people go up at sunset just to spend the whole night on the top, taking photographs and selfies!

The cross of Mount Zoccolaro

The cross at the top of Mount Zoccolaro is a monument commissioned by the priest Salvatore Russo in 1948. Together with some parishioners, the priest transported the large cross with a truck to the viewpoint, and then – on their shoulder! – to the top of the hill. There, it was fixed to the ground with the inscription: prayer, action, sacrifice. Every year, on 14 September – the day of the Exaltation of the Cross – a mass is celebrated at 9 am at the foot of the monument. The celebration is also animated by “alpine choirs” sung by the locals.

How to reach the mountains

It is not difficult to reach Mount Pomiciaro and Mount Zoccolaro because they are located along the provincial road that leads from Zafferana Etnea to the famous Sapienza Refuge. At a certain point, a detour indicates exactly the way to take, which leads after a series of bends to the place.

You can go up to the paths of Pomiciaro and Zoccolaro following the provincial road SP 92 from both Zafferana and Nicolosi. Those who arrive from Zafferana will find the crossroads before reaching the Sapienza Refuge. While those who climb from Nicolosi will have to pass the refuge and head east, towards Zafferana Etnea.

For those arriving from outside the district, the route is: A18 motorway, Acireale exit, deviation for the Paesi Etnei following the Aci Sant’Antonio-Lavinaio-Zafferana Etnea road. Or you can exit at Giarre, going up towards Santa Venerina and Zafferana. Those who are already in the city of Catania can easily go up from Nicolosi. (photos by Grazia Musumeci)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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