Lava Caves of the Etna

The Etna, just like nature in general, never ceases to amaze us. Among all the wonders that this volcano can offer, we cannot but mention its amazing caves. 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 the Grotta del gelo, Grotta dei lamponi, Grotta della neve and Grotta di Monpeluso but it is possible that there are many other, which haven’t been discovered yet!  

The longest eruption in Etna’s history, that is the one 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 not known, 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 known as the Grotta dei ladroni (the Thieves cave), as it was the presumed hideout of a gang of robbers of some centuries ago, was discovered in 1776. This cave has become particularly famous thanks to an activity which used to take place there in the past: the low temperatures of Etna, allowed the development of the profitable ice business. Basically, these caves, called nivieri, were exploited to accumulate the snow, which was then sold in the cities.

If this unusual and useful practice has intrigued you, do not miss the opportunity to see live this extraordinary cave by joining our Goodmorning Etna Tour or the Etna, Wine & Alcantara Tour!    

The Grotta dei tre livelli (Three-level cave) was discovered more recently. Found by chance in 1964 during the construction works for a street on the southern side of the volcano, this cave dates back to 1792 and it can boast 1150 meters of length and 304 meters of depth!

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 an eruption of 252 which started from Monpeluso, near Nicolosi. Legend has it that the lava flow reached Catania on the 5th of February, 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 places! Don’t miss this occasion: join us!