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Mt Etna at 2,500 Meters Elevation

March 16, 2017

Here I am in Virginia getting ready for a very important family event and  writing about my recent experience on Mt. Etna, in Sicily.  On March 3, 2017, I drove up Mt. Etna, Etna Sud, driving the twenty kilometers on SP 92 that lead from the town of Nicolosi to Rifugio Sapienza. Rifugio Sapienza lies at approximately 2,000 meters elevation, to the left of the Funivia dell’Etna, Etna cable car entrance. I took the Funivia dell’Etna, the Cable Car, as seen in the photo below in the building marked EXCURSIONS, which took me up to 2,500 meters elevation.  Due to an injury, I was not able to ski, so for the first time ever I visited this altitude as an observer.  At the 2,500 meter point, there are vehicles of the Funivia dell’Etna that take people up to 2,700 meters elevation to a location called Il Belvedere. For several reasons, I chose to stay at 2,500 meter elevation enjoying the view, soaking up the sun and taking pictures.


Rifugio Sapienza

Up at that elevation, one can enjoy the view of the many dormant craters which have formed over time and enjoy a view of the coastline, the Ionian Sea. Following are some videos and photos I took that day.

Heading up to 2,500 meter elevation in the Funivia dell’Etna.


Funivia dell’Etna arrival point at 2,500 meters. The terrace from which I took the picture below  usually has chairs for people to enjoy sunbathing and take in the views, but that day there were none!!!

etna 1 march 3 2017

View from 2,500 meters of  Etna smoking

etna 2 mar 3,17

Video taken at 2,500 meters


Riding the Funivia dell’Etna back down

My trip up Mt Etna was just thirteen days ago.  This morning, while checking the headlines online of the Sicilian newspaper, La Sicilia, I read of something that happened this morning right in that area.  Right at the Belvedere spot, approximately 2,700 meters altitude, a group of visitors that had gone  to that point with the vehicle of the Funivia dell’Etna departing from the cable arrival point in which I took the above photos, had a huge surprise.  Due to the recent snowfall covering the mountain and the incandescent lava of a new eruption which just started this week, a “phreatic explosion” took place.  I learned by the article that such an explosion is caused by the incandescent lava coming into contact with the snow covering the area. It was described as an almost “instantaneous evaporation of the water with a consequent explosion of vapor, water, ash and rocks.”  Of the people being hit by this morning’s phreatic explosion seven ended up in the hospital. What a freaky experience!

On the evening of March 3, 2017, the day I have described in this post, I joined some friends for a night time hike up Mt. Etna to try and see the explosive eruption that had been taking place that week.  I will write about that experience in my next post.






From → Mount Etna

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