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If you want to experience absolute magic, let us accompany you to the Grotto of Raspberries, on the north side of Mount Etna. Here, literally, the sky enters inside, illuminates the subsoil and makes the whole environment almost a fairytale. It is one of the most popular and most requested caves, touristically speaking, in any season. But like all caves it is an unpredictable and dangerous environment. So it is strongly recommended – if not almost mandatory – to go with an expert guide. Do not forget that you are on a volcano. The soil here is always “moving”. And no other place like the Grotto of Raspberries reminds you of all this.

Discovering the Grotto of Raspberries

The Grotto of Raspberries is one of the many “lava flow” caves of Etna. This means it was created by the flowing of lava itself and the cooling of its outer crust. Among the caves of this type it is one of the longest, on this volcano.

You enter it from a small opening located at the foot of a steep slope. Then pass inside a tunnel that leads you to a wide room, 2 meters high and about 100 meters long. Above this first tunnel there is a second one, also 2 meters high but up to 300 meters long. The two grottos are not connected. So in order to access the upper gallery you have to go up the slope and find the appropriate opening.

The upper gallery has undergone numerous collapses over time, including the most spectacular one. When the vault collapsed, a huge “skylight” opened. Today it frames the sky above. That is why, here, the sky literally “falls down”, underground! The shape of the cave is in a semicircle, although in some places it elongates to form ellipses. It is characterized by numerous cracks, by material derived from natural collapses, and by the wind. Due to the many holes and openings it is constantly windy inside.

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ph Nunzio Santisi Wikimedia org

The name Grotto of Raspberries

The grotto was discovered in 1965 by some hikers of the Italian Alpine Club in exploration on the ancient lavas, called “dei Dammusi”. At the entrance to the cavity on the wall of this part of the rocky gallery, they found a raspberry plant growing luxuriantly. It was therefore natural to give this name to the beautiful cave of which that berry was the “guardian”, in spite of itself.

You won’t always be lucky enough to find raspberries outside the cave, but inside you can still find soft moss growing everywhere, especially on the floor. With the light coming in through the holes in the ceiling, the colours of the rock and the light green of the moss create a set of spectacular hues. Colours change according to the intensity of the sun rays.

How to get there

To get to the Grotto of Raspberries you will cross a very beautiful landscape. In fact, you will have to park the car at the Ragabo Refuge, inside the dense pine forest of the same name. The forest shades the Altomontana route. So you will follow this route for about 8 km, up to the junction indicating Lava dei Dammusi (video here) and Timparossa. The cave is indicated by separate signs leading to a path among the lava rocks. Following it, after about 50 meters, you will find the first entrance.

To get to Ragabo, follow the Strada Mareneve (both from the east side, Zafferana, and from the north side, Linguaglossa) which crosses the north-eastern side of Etna. This road is easily reachable both from Taormina and from Catania or Aci Trezza. The nearest airport is Fontanarossa Catania.


Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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