These fascinating geological phenomena inform not only the terrain but the very history of this ancient land. Sicily’s local lore is littered with myths and legends surrounding the formation of the volcanoes, and its fertile landscape is fed by a constant flow of subterranean lava that feeds the soil and nurtures its abundance of crops.
That’s for you, but the truth is, the children probably won’t care a jot for all that. They’ll just be raring to get their feet on the beasts…
Explore the Might and Power of Etna
Etna is the best known of all Sicily’s volcanoes, but it’s lesser known by several other names including Mungibeddu, Mongibellopo and Muntagna. No matter what you call it, there’s no denying its appeal for the adventurous family. As the highest and largest volcano in Europe, Etna’s summit reaches 3350m above sea level and it’s visible from almost anywhere on the island. While you can hire a car and drive up, when you’ve got a tonne of youthful energy and exuberance in tow, hiking or biking is the way to go – stopping at the charming traditional villages along the way. If you want to get to the higher altitudes of the four craters, you can take a Jeepbus – but the most common stopping point is Torre del Filosofo, at 2,920m.
Set in an unbeatable location as a base to explore the mighty Mt Etna, Hotel Ariston takes in stunning elevated views over the coastline at Taormina and is one of my favourite hotels in our Sicilian collection. The hotel’s relaxed ambience is perfect for a family stay and the pool, terraces and delightful gardens provide the space for children to stretch their legs.
If you want make yourself even more popular with your children, you might want to take them on a gelato hunt as a reward after an energetic day on the volcano.
Step on to the Slopes of Stromboli
Stromboli is a little more hard-core. This volcano island can only be reached by a ferry or boat trip, but for older, more confident children, I can’t recommend the adventure highly enough. It’s a fairly vigorous three-hour hike to the summit and the most common time to do it is at dusk, so you can appreciate the full effect of the incredible natural fireworks that reward your efforts. The highly active Stromboli erupts about every 20 minutes or so, and each time it does you can feel the broiling air rushing up from the centre of the Earth. The sparks and spurts of lava shoot high into the night sky – this is one experience I guarantee will be etched into your family’s minds for life.
A Visit to Vulcano
Vulcano is positively a walk in the park compared to Stromboli, and once you’ve arrived on a ferry from Lipari, the hike to the summit of this 400m volcano will only take about an hour. From the top you can take in magnificent far-reaching panoramas over the Aeolian archipelago, as sulphurous smoke from the crater drifts across your view. While it may be the more diminutive of the Aeolian volcanoes, it’s every bit as atmospheric as Stromboli as you peer over the edge of its mammoth crater.
If exploring Stromboli or Vulcano is going to be part of your itinerary, I highly recommend you make your base at the Hotel Rocce Azzurre on the stunning Aeolian island of Lipari. The hotel is set in a winning position right on the water, and its casual, inviting ambience offers a warm welcome, picturesque sea views and great facilities for families. As it’s situated just a short walk from the centre of town, you can take the short boat ride across to Stromboli or Vulcano for a memorable multi-volcano adventure.