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Etna and its caves to discover

The hidden treasures of the Volcano

Etna is rich in natural beauty and, among the many that distinguish it, are certainly spectacular and worthy of attention the caves of lava flow. On Etna there are over 200 and some can be visited accompanied by authorized and experienced operators.

Serracozzo, one of the Etna cave  from the inside
Serracozzo cave

The creation of the caves

The caves originate during the lava flows. They are formed by the phonomenon of “ingrottamento” of the lava: during the lava flow the external part cools and solidifies in contact with the atmosphere, while the inner flow keeps its heat and continues to flow. Once the lava flow begins to become extinct the conduct begins to empty, giving way to a cave of lava flow. Each cave has a roof (or vault) and a floor (or bed); from the vault can often hang stalactites that take the name of “dog teeth” for their sharp shape.
Some caves are only a few dozen meters long,others are characterized by their much larger size and in ancient times were used for different purposes: as a place of burial, place of worship or even a place where to store the snow fallen in the coldest months to be able to use it in summertime.

Which are the most famous lava caves on Etna?

Among the most important and wellknown caves we remember:

Grotta dei Lamponi. It is one of the longest caves, in fact its lenght exceeds 700 meters. The opening of the cave was created by the collapse of the roof that opens along a steep slope and divides the cave into two parts: the section downstream and upstream.
Grotta del Gelo. It is certainly the best known. Located at an altitude of 2040 meters with its perennial glacier is considered the most southern glacier in Europe.
Grotta dei tre livelli. It is located at an altitude of 1630 meters in the locality of Casa del Vescovo in the territory of Zafferana. It is the longest of the caves of Etna, initially used as a “niviera“: inside it was collected and pressed snow during the winter so as to preserve and sell it during summer.
-Grotta di Serracozzo. Created with the 1971 eruption on the eastern side of Etna.
Grotta Cassone. Discovered in 1964 during the construction of the road, its formation dates back to the eruption of 1792.

Here are some pictures that we can show you thanks to our guide Iorga

Some of these caves can be visited by participating in our tours, always accompanied by our naturalistic guides in perfect safety conditions with appropriate equipment: helmets and torches. We recommend you do not venture to discovere these natural beauties as fascinating as dangerous.