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Rifugio Sapienza

Rifugio Sapienza: Our most recommended tours and activities

Mount Etna: Excursion to the Base of the Summit Craters

1. Mount Etna: Excursion to the Base of the Summit Craters

Your expert guide will pick you up at your accommodation in Catania, or another central location, around 8:30 AM. The guide will drive you to Rifugio Sapienza where you will the cable car to 2500 meters. Here, a 4x4 vehicle will take you to the maximum reachable height of 1.7 miles (2750 meters). With the guide, enjoy the magnificence of the volcano in front of the impressive Central and South-Eastern Craters, which are surrounded by ancient and recent lava flows. Return to Rifugio Sapienza to head in the direction of Monte Nero Degli Zappini. Take a nature walk with your guide to discover the geological and botanical aspects of Etna. Stop for a delicious lunch of authentic Sicilian baked goods accompanied by water and Mount Etna wine. In the afternoon, you will visit a volcanic cave and use helmets and torches to safely explore the depth of the volcano. Your expert guide will teach you some basic information about speleology and the fascinating phenomenon related to eruptions.

From Catania: Full-Day Mount Etna and Taormina Tour

2. From Catania: Full-Day Mount Etna and Taormina Tour

Jump in the shuttle bus and head out into the lunar landscape of one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mount Etna. At over 6,500 ft (1,981 meters), this majestic mountain dominates the coastline, concealing plenty of treasures within its lair. No trip to Sicily would be complete without a visit to the tempestuous territories of Mount Etna. Starting at Rifugio Sapienza, follow the line of the old Silvestri craters down into a cave of lava formed during the eruption of 1792. From here, head to the province of Zafferana, where you'll visit a local organic farm and sample honey and wine, cultivated in the fertile soils of the region. En route to Taormina, look at the spectacular wildlife reserve of Isola Bella from above. Upon arrival, spend lunch at your leisure, then re-group to check out the highlights of this unique historical town. From the old-world charm of the ancient Greek theater to the breathtaking views of the Bay of Nexus and the striking architecture of Palazza Corvaja, this town steals the heart of every visitor.

Catania: Guided Tour of Etna with Farm Visit & Food Tasting

3. Catania: Guided Tour of Etna with Farm Visit & Food Tasting

Come with us to discover the highest volcano in Europe: Mount Etna! You will visit ancient craters, ending this experience with a tasting of typical products of the place, at an organic farm. After meeting with the guide, you will climb up to the Rifugio Sapienza, allowing yourself short stops from time to time, so you can fully enjoy the beauty of the Etnean landscape.  You will know the history of the volcano and its territory, thanks to our guide who will tell you about the ancient and recent lava flows that have involved the slopes of Etna and the Crateri Silvestri.   Once you reach Rifugio Sapienza, at an altitude of 1920 meters, you will continue on a hiking trail, together with our guide, where you will be overwhelmed by the beauty of a beautiful landscape.   Back to Rifugio Sapienza, with helmet and flashlight, you will continue with the observation of a cave of lava flow: a unique and distinctive conformation of volcanoes, and then conclude with a visit to an organic farm, where you can taste honeys, wines, oils and other local products.

From Taormina: Mount Etna and Alcantara River Tour

4. From Taormina: Mount Etna and Alcantara River Tour

Depart from Taormina and head to the Rifugio Sapienza on Mount Etna. Learn the history of the volcano and visit the sites of its last eruptions. Choose to trek along the nature paths of the Parco dell’Etna or take the cable car to an altitude of 2,504 meters and continue by 4WD minibus to the Torre del Filosofo. Get stunning views of the scenery stretching down to the sea and admire the craters and old lava flows that characterize the landscape. Explore a lava cave with all the proper equipment. Continue down the mountain and stop at the organic farm for a delicious sampling of local products, including honey, wine, and oil. Discover the different corners of the Alcantara River. Walk down small paths, past cultivated fields, and see the natural pools and waterfalls and continue to get up close to different basalt and unexpected lava formations.

From Catania/Taormina: Mount Etna Cablecar & 4WD Tour

5. From Catania/Taormina: Mount Etna Cablecar & 4WD Tour

After being picked up from your accommodation in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle, set off in the direction of Mount Etna. Embark on an adventurous drive up to the volcano, passing by the small towns of Pedara, Nicolosi, and Zafferana Etnea and cold lava fields. Reach the Rifugio Sapienza Etna starting point where the next portion of the tour begins. Your English-speaking guide will explain to you the most interesting phenomena of the active volcano and about the plants and animals of the region. Climb into a cable car and soar up to an altitude of 2500 m. Next, continue upwards to 2900m in a special jeep. Explore the area at the foot of the main crater known as Torre del Filosofo. Marvel at the stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea if it is a clear day. During a 40-minute tour of the area, your expert alpine/volcanology guide will explain all about the geology of the area and how the hot smoking craters were formed after the 2002-2003 eruption.  After this, return to the Rifugio Sapienza to enjoy a traditional Sicilian lunch at a chalet. Once you've filled your belly, get kitted up with helmets and flashlights and begin on an unforgettable adventure inside a real lava cave. At the end of the tour,  you will be driven back to your accommodation in Catania or Taormina.

From Catania: Etna, Taormina, Isola Bella Audio-Guided Tour

6. From Catania: Etna, Taormina, Isola Bella Audio-Guided Tour

Explore three beautiful places in Sicily on a full-day self-guided tour starting in the center of Catania. Travel to Mount Etna, known as the highest active volcano in Europe. Experience the natural beauty of Isola Bella and visit the medieval hill town of Taormina. Reach 2000 meters and walk on the old craters while admiring citrus groves, vineyards, and birch woods. Take the cable car, easily accessible from the stop point to get a unique perspective of the site (cable car tickets are not included). Move on to Isola Bella, a nature reserve with enchanting shades of color on the seabed that is a favorite destination for many travelers before heading to Taormina. From the Greek Theatre in Taormina, experience the spectacular view of the turquoise sea from the coast of Calabria, the city of Syracuse, and the steaming summit of Etna. Have free time to wander and explore Taormina before returning to Catania.

From Nicolosi: Mount Etna Sunset Hike

7. From Nicolosi: Mount Etna Sunset Hike

Discover the majesty of the Etna volcano at sunset on this guided hike from Nicolosi. Explore volcanic landscapes and see an old lava flow cave that has been used by locals for hundreds of years.  Meet your guide in the square of Rifugio Sapienza in Nicolosi and begin your trek through the lush coniferous and deciduous forests that surround Mount Etna in the glow of the evening light. Listen as your guide tells you interesting facts about this unique volcano.  See a vertical lava flow cave which was used in the past as a ice house where winter snow was stored in the summer and used to cool food and drinks. Stop at a picture perfect location to watch the sunset over the island of Sicily from an elevated position before returning to your meeting point. 

Catania: Guided Tour of Etna with Wine Tasting & Appetizers

8. Catania: Guided Tour of Etna with Wine Tasting & Appetizers

Come with us to discover the highest volcano in Europe: Mount Etna! You'll visit ancient craters and you'll reach an altitude of up to 2000 meters, ending this experience with a tasting of typical products of the place, at one of the best wineries of our volcano.  After meeting with the guide, you will climb up to the Sapienza Refuge, allowing yourself short stops from time to time, so you can fully enjoy the beauty of the Etnean landscape.  You will know the history of the volcano and its territory, thanks to our guide who will tell you about the ancient and recent lava flows that have involved the slopes of Etna and the Crateri Silvestri. Once you reach Rifugio Sapienza, at an altitude of 1920 meters, you will have the possibility to choose whether to continue on a hiking trail without exceeding 2000 meters of altitude, together with our guide, or opt for the option "Etna alta quota" that, thanks to special means and a local mountain guide, will allow you to reach the summit of the volcano (about 3000 meters), where you will be overwhelmed by the beauty of a beautiful landscape surrounded by the sea. Back to Rifugio Sapienza, with helmet and flashlight, you can continue with the visit of a cave of lava flow: a unique and distinctive conformation of volcanoes, and then conclude this experience with a tasting of five local wines, accompanied by a platter of cold cuts, cheeses, fried food, pate and extra virgin olive oil of our own production.

Nicolosi: Etna Guided Sky Trek with Cable Car Ride

9. Nicolosi: Etna Guided Sky Trek with Cable Car Ride

You’ll get to almost 3,000 metres above sea level, and marvel at rock formations which date back thousands of years. You’ll meet your expert volcanologist guide on the slopes of Etna at the Rifugio Sapienza, 1900 metres above sea level. One the introductions are out the way, you’ll take the cable car to an altitude of 2,500 metres where the excitement (and the trekking) truly begins! 2001 saw one of the biggest eruptions this millennium on Etna, and you’ll be climbing towards the crater that was created by that. The lunar landscape that was left behind is sure to take your breath away, so maky sure you have your camera at the ready. Then, you’ll carry on to the viewpoint on the Valle del Bove, at a dizzying height of 2,750 metres above sea level! Valle del Bove is considered the best panoramic spot on the mountain, with the dazzling depression dating back 64,000 years. You’ll get a chane to take in your surroundings, snap a few pictures, and pick out Taormina and Syracuse on the coast. You’ll also see summit craters as they constantly emit gases and water vapour. The last stop is visiting a crater depression called the Cisternazza before you take the cable car back to La Sapienza.

Mount Etna: Winter Trekking Tour

10. Mount Etna: Winter Trekking Tour

The excursion starts from an altitude of about 1850 meters (Rifugio Sapienza), the first part of the route will be conducted over the slope and the sandy ground on which we will walk along an amazing area populated of a black larch pine forest and a rich endemic vegetation such as soapwort, Etna violets, low shrubs which lose their color in winter but not their morphology. In this first part you can enjoy a breathtaking panorama that ranges from the Gulf of Catania to the Ionian Sea. Continuing to walk we will see the active summit craters with the southeast crater in the foreground which on several occasions throughout 2021 and in the first months of 2022 gave rise to a series of very intense eruptive events, with Strombolian activity and flows lava that drastically changed the morphology of the crater. We will arrive on the south wall of the magnificent Valle del Bove, the huge basin that contains the lava flows of the most important and recent eruptions. This valley is ten kilometers long and five wide, it constitutes an embankment against eruptions allowing the lava to flow out and thus keep it away from inhabited centres. The area is also particularly important for volcanologists who can thus observe the progress of the eruptions and at the same time constitute a sort of open-air museum of Etna. After a stop, we will continue in a westerly direction until we reach the eruptive fracture which opened at an altitude of 2100 meters in the year 2001, immediately afterwards we will continue in the direction of the Silvestri craters (upper) and return to the starting point.

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What people are saying about Rifugio Sapienza

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 531 reviews

Full day on Mt Edna with a group of 8 + awesome guide. Transportation provided in minivan, hiked around 2 volcanic craters, one old / one more recent. Combo gondola/ 4x4 small bus to reach slightly below summit. Lava fields are extensive, multiple craters and Mountain View’s. I found the hike to the 2nd crater challenging as it’s steep and you’re trudging through loose volcanic sand/rubble. After touring the craters our guide found a great spot for a picnic lunch- it included a variety of local foods so we had a chance to try the local fare, wine and water included! Following lunch we drove to a lava cave - our group was the only one there. Another very short hike to reach the cave and a bit of a challenge to enter- cave was fairly small but a good example of a lava cave. Our guide was knowledgeable regarding the geology of the area and was always very safety conscious. This tour is considered their “easy “ tour due to the assist of gondola & bus - beware if out of shape/older.

Wonderful experience. When do you get the chance to walk around an active volcano? You actually do very little walking if you're not in good shape since they have a gondola and bus to bring you up there. Although they charge extra for the gondola you need to take it unless you are in super good shape and can walk up the side of a mountain. They also bring you to a small cave which is cool to see. And then another stop to sample/buy some locally made honey which tastes great and makes for a good gift to bring back home. Lastly you stop in Taormina for lunch and shopping. It is a beautiful small town to stroll around with fantastic views, especially from the ancient Greek theater there (extra fee for entrance). Bring a jacket, it can get cold up on the mountain.

This tour was great! Our guide, Florence, spoke English, French and Italian brilliantly and knew a lot about Etna, so we learned a lot. The river visit was an unexpected highlight and a fantastic inclusion. At Etna, there will be offers of the cable car, electric bike or jeeps to take you further up (for an extra price of at least €68). However, if you don’t choose this, your guide will give you a walking tour around the craters and the site, which we loved. I really recommend this day trip, we loved it and learned a lot.

Tour guide was very accommodating. Shared the history and slowed us to explore on our own.

Top guide. Extremely experienced and has tremendous expertise.