Mount Etna is a thoroughly different universe, a planet to be discovered that never shows one element equal to another. Landscapes and features change continuously and what you will see on the eastern or southern flank is completely different from the things you can amire on the north side. Today we are going to discover just this “face” of the volcano: Etna North, that is Piano Provenzana and all the towns and villages that surround it. Get ready for many surprises.
Piano Provenzana, woods and lava
Thanks to the off-road excursions we organize at Go Etna it is comfortable and easy to reach the north side of the volcano. We will skirt Valle del Bove up to the village of Fornazzo and from there we will climb over the eastern side, heading north towards Piano Provenzana. As we rise you will realize that the landscape changes, it is less urbanized and increasingly immersed in thick forests of beech, birch and high pines. The pinewoods are in fact the protagonists of Etna North, having grown luxuriant for centuries on the lava soil that is constantly deformed by the eruptions.
The last one that concerned this place dates back to 2002/2003, when a series of craters – “button-craters” – opened just above the ski slopes of Piano Provenzana and quickly destroyed both slopes and chairlifts. We will certainly visit these fascinating craters but also the caves created by the lava flows.
And do not be surprised if, along the way, we will meet some foxes, some hares or porcupines … here they are at home! You will be privileged if you will see one of the wild cats of Mt. Etna, while from the deep blue skies above, you can always hear the call of buzzards, hawks, kestrels and nightingales.
From Piano Provenzana to the Alcantara Gorges
The beauty of Etna North, however, does not only reside in the wild nature of the body of the volcano itself. Going down to the valley, always from the north side, we will meet delightful towns like Linguaglossa, with its artistic murales that reproduce scenes of Sicilian country life and the beautiful churches. Here you can eat the best sausage in eastern Sicily, a must try!
Going towards the hinterland we will find Catiglione di Sicilia, with its great castle that dominates the Alcantara Valley and finally, just along the river, returning to the sea we will arrive at the famous Gorges, dug out by the waters over the millennia. Here you can admire the colonnade lavas’ shapes that form the rocky walls, you can follow the river to the deepest point of the gorge (always leaded by a valid guide) and you can also eat in the equipped areas and restaurants around. If time remains, go visit the ancient medieval village of Motta Camastra, which dominates the gorges from its rocky cliff. Do not miss it! (photos by Grazia Musumeci)