Around Etna

Lava Caves of Etna between tradition and myth

Our volcano, just like nature in general, never ceases to amaze us. Among all the wonders that Etna can offer, we cannot but mention its amazing lava caves.

What is a Lava Cave?

Scientifically speaking, the caves we can marvel at on our volcano are syngenetic caves. In simple terms, they are lava flows whose external walls cool and solidify very quickly even if they still contain liquid lava. The lava keeps on flowing, even after the end of the eruption, as long as the neoformed cave is empty.

The most famous and suggestive caves on Etna are: Grotta del Gelo, Grotta dei Lamponi, Grotta della Neve and Grotta di Monpeluso. However, there surely are many others which haven’t been discovered yet!  

Caves on Etna North

The longest eruption in Etna’s history, which lasted 10 years starting from 1614, created not only the Grotta dei lamponi (the Raspberries cave) but also the Grotta del Gelo (the Frost cave). The length of this cave is still unknown since it has never been possible to completely explore it but we know for sure that it is the southernmost glacier of Europe!

The Grotta della Neve (the Snow cave) also has the name of Grotta dei Ladroni (the Thieves cave), as it was the presumed hideout of a gang of robbers of some centuries ago, after its discovery in 1776. This cave has become particularly famous as it allowed the development of the profitable ice business. Basically, locals used these caves, also known as nivieri, to accumulate the snow and sell it in the cities during the hottest months.

If this unusual and useful practice has intrigued you, do not miss the opportunity to see live this extraordinary caves! By joining our Goodmorning Etna or Etna, Wine & Alcantara Tour you will discover more about it.

Caves on Etna South

The Grotta dei tre livelli (Three-level cave) was discovered more recently. This cave dates back to 1792 and boasts 1150 meters of length and 304 meters of depth; its discovery happened by chance in 1964 during the construction works for a street on Etna South.

If you join our Top Easy tour, you will have the chance to stop by this incredible cave!  

Last but not least, we cannot fail to mention the Grotta di Monpeluso. Regarding the origins of this cave, as it often happens, history, religion and legend have intertwined and become one. This incredible cave is nothing but the result of the eruption of 252 AD which started from Monpeluso, near Nicolosi. Legend has it that the lava flow reached Catania on February 5th; this was exactly one year after the martyrdom of the Patron Saint Agata. Some believers who knew that the Saint worked miracles during her life, brought her veil near the lava flow and it miraculously stopped, saving the entire city.

Let yourself be carried by the fascination of these legends and magical lava caves of Etna! Don’t miss this occasion: join us!