Mount Etna Ski Holidays

Mount Etna Ski Holidays

Mount Etna, in Sicily, is something of a novelty for skiers.  Sicily doesn’t tend to conjure up images of powder snow and daring descents, but Etna’s impressive height and gradual slopes ensure excellent snow and wonderful skiing conditions.

For those who fancy a change from the Alps, Etna offers the ski excitement of the famous snow-capped mountain range, but with the added bonus of Mediterranean sun and sea and the kudos of skiing on a live – and very active- volcano.

Etna isn’t a huge ski destination, and probably won’t excite the most experienced skiers in terms of difficult runs. But the real appeal of Etna is the novelty.  Taking a ski lift over molten lava flows, solidified lava trails and black-ash covered snow takes some beating.

The mountain has three sections from the base up, which make it particularly interesting to ski down. The top section is where the volcano is most active. Due to this, the height of Etna changes every time it erupts, getting lower and lower every time. The top is mostly barren with lava flow, volcanic ash and a layer of snow giving the summit an eerie feel. Beneath this, at around 2000m there is a wooded area of pine and chestnut trees. At the base, at around 1200m, Etna’s fertile soil bursts to life and it becomes easier to believe you’re in the Mediterranean, with citrus trees, olive groves and vineyards, which gives a very different flavour from the crater.

There are two small resorts, Rifugio Sapienza and Piano Provenzana.  Both offer a couple of ski lifts and chair lifts which get surprisingly crowded with thrill-seeking skiers.

There are very few runs on Etna, but what it lacks in number it makes up for in length. There’s one green run, one blue, one blue/red and two black/ red, and it’s even possible to ski from the 3,329m summit to the very base of the volcano.  Other runs are around 2kms and 2.7kms.

The ski season runs from December to April, with snow almost guaranteed due to the volcano’s incredible height. The gondola in Nicolosi runs 2500m above sea level to Montagnola all year round and sometimes snow has even been seen at these heights in August, though that is a fairly rare occurrence.