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Sicily Guide > Catania province

The Grotta del Gelo

Location: Sciara del Follone
Municipality: Randazzo
Year of eruption: 1614-1624

ITINERARY OF APROACH
Elevation at departure: 1430 m
Elevation at arrival 2 030 m
Walking distance 10 km
Walking time 3,5 h
Difficulty difficult

INSIDE THE CAVE
Total length 120 m
Total depth
Difficulty medium


The Grotta del Gelo (Ice Cave) is undoubtedly one the most famous cave on Etna due to the year round presence of a stack of ice which occupies 30% of the cave’s volume. In the past the cave was know by shepherds who drove their flocks of sheep to water. Today, the Grotta dell Gelo is a favourite destination of hikers on Etna’s tourist excursions. The best period to go visit it is between April and June, because that's when the outer snow melts and allows access to the cave.
HOW TO REACH: the easiest way to reach it is from the Linguaglossa side by remains of old path which starts at the Pitarrone Forestry station and continues beyond the cave “Grotta dei Lamponi” (Raspberry Cave). Be ready to hike for a 10km (outward route) sometimes over rough paths of lava deserts and mountain forest.

 

The Grotta Cassone

Location: Piano del Vescovo area
Municipality: Zafferana Etnea
Year of eruption: 1792-1793

ITINERARY OF APROACH
Elevation at departure 1400 m
Elevation at arrival 1400 m
Walking distance 10 m
Walking time 5 min
Difficulty easy

INSIDE THE CAVE
Total length 246 m
Total depth 1 m
Difficulty easy

The Grotta Cassone tunnel can reach 8m in height and in certain points is over 10m wide. The floor is made up of corded lava and the ceiling is dotted with dogtooth stalactites. Inside it is possible to meet a tiny colony of bats.
HOW TO REACH: the cave is located at 10,8 km on the SP 92 road leading from Zafferana Etnea to Rifugio Sapienza, on the southern flank of Etna. The entrance is a small hole on the right side of the road, close to Valle del Tipodo.
ATTENTION: In some points the cave is collapsing in the ceiling and it is difficult to pass. Use the helmet in order to protect one’s head from falling stones.

 

The Grotta di Serracozzo

Location: Contrada Serracozzo
Municipality: Milo
Year of eruption: 1971

ITINERARY OF APROACH
Elevation at departure 1745 m
Elevation at arrival 1840 m
Walking distance 2 km
Walking time 1,5 h
Difficulty easy

INSIDE THE CAVE
Total length 350 m
Total depth 60 m
Difficulty medium

The Grotta di Serracozzo is the cave of lava flow generated by the 1971 eruption of Etna. It is a beautiful example of lava tube starting from an eruptive fracture (50 m long) that can be partially visited. There is a clear boundary between the fracture and the lava tube. There are numerous re-melting stalactites and festoons hanging on the ceiling, the walls are affected by small vitreous blisters and exploded bubbles.  



HOW TO REACH: starting from Rifugio Citelli take a path, approx. 200 m from the refuge, signalled by red coloured signs. Proceed walking between birch wood until it finishes. At the edge of a wood you’ll see a fork in the path, go straight on until you reach the crater, where is located the cave.

 

The Grotta dei Tre Livelli

Location: Contrada Casa del Vescovo
Municipality: Zafferana Etnea
Year of eruption: 1792-1793

ITINERARY OF APROACH
Elevation at departure 1675 m
Elevation at arrival 1675 m
Walking distance 50 m
Walking time 5min
Difficulty easy

INSIDE THE CAVE
Total length 1150 m
Total depth 304 m
Difficulty medium

This is the most important lava tube on Mt. Etna and it was also the main channel of the 1792-1793 eruption. Overall, the cave is almost unaffected by collapse. Its total length is 1150 m and it’s the longest being the others less than 1000 m. The name Grotta dei Tre Livelli (Three Levels Cave) is due to three different overlapping levels, which comprise the cavity. The cave is made up of huge galleries with dog-tooth stalactites and “wrinkles” running along the tunnel walls. Inside the cave lives a small bat colony.
HOW TO REACH: the cave is at about 13.5 km on the SP 92 road leading from Zafferana Etnea to Rifugio Sapienza, on the southern flank of Etna. The entrance is just next to the road, at Contrada Casa del Vescovo.

 

The Grotta dei Ladroni

Location: Piano delle Donne
Municipality: Sant’Alfio
Year of eruption: Prehistoric  

ITINERARY OF APROACH
Elevation at departure 1547 m
Elevation at arrival 1547 m
Walking distance 150 m
Walking time 10 min
Difficulty easy

INSIDE THE CAVE
Total length 59 m
Total depth 4 m
Difficulty easy

The Grotta dei Ladroni (Thieves Cave) takes its name from the legend that it was used by brigands as a refuge. But in reality, the cave was used as a snow deposit: inside the cave, during the winter, the snow was gathered in order to preserve it. This cave has two easy entrances: one entrance was modified with some steps carved in a wall, the other was carved in the basalt to create a steep slope. Inside is possible to walk through the cave for a few metres, until the exit point, that brings back into the woods. Some parts of the cave allow to stand on your feet, while in others you have to crawl.
HOW TO REACH: the cave is at about 10 km from Fornazzo, along the road from Fornazzo to Rifugio Citelli, on the eastern flank of Etna. The entrance is just next to the road, at Piano delle Donne

IMPORTANT: Caving can require some special precautions that you must consider if you wish to have a safe, successful and rewarding trip. First and foremost is that you should be physically fit and have the necessary equipment: boots, helmet, lamp, overalls, flexible ladders, and ropes must be thoroughly efficient. At least two other people are the minimum that you should be taking on a hike. The best time to visit Mount Etna’s caves is late spring, summer and autumn.

 
 
 
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