Nicolosi is a city of nearly 5,000
located 700m a.s.l. on the slopes of the volcano, hence regarded
as the Gateway to Etna. On several occasions eruptions have highly
damaged the city, 1669’s notably devastating. Both on this
occasion and on following earthquake in 1693, the people proudly
strove to restore the town back to its ancient splendor, rejecting
the possibility to move elsewhere.
Volcano Museum, particularly focused on Etna (Museo Vulcanologico),
bears witness to the close link between Nicolosi and its volcano.
history begins in the 12th century, when a Benedictine Monastery
dedicated to San Nicolò l’Arena was erected on a former
Chapel. This was to be moved to Catania some century later. Around
the monastery soon grew a village that took the name of the religious
building, long ruled by the Moncadas from Paternò.
Nicolosi has numerous buildings
of architectural and historical interest. The Mother Church, dedicated
to the Holy Spirit was largely restructured after the 1669 eruption;
it contains several interesting works of art such as a wooden Crucifix
and an organ.
The benedictine monastery of San
Nicolò l’Arena, at a short distance from town, was
built at Frederick II of Aragon’s behest. It is now seat of
the Etna Park.
the minor churches a mention must go to San Giuseppe’s and
the small Anime del Purgatorio’s.
In Nicolosi, where the official
guides are centred (095/7914755), begins a nice road that stretches
up to the Rifugio Sapienza, from where excursions to the crater
Up to the summit of Etna –
The route lies through a strangely unnerving landscape with black
lava below and blue sky above, relieved occasionally by a white
patch of snow or lonely cloud as if for dramatic effect. Before
getting to the refuge, a sign points to the Crateri Silvestri, moonlike
craters a short walk away, at a height of 1886 m.
Ascent from the south side –
The section up to 1923m can be made by cable-car (from the Rifugio
Sapienza), to 2608m by four-wheel drive vehicle, leaving a short
distance to cover on foot. For safety reasons, it is not possible
to get close to the central vent. An excursion by vehicle includes
a stop near the Valle del Bove, a vast sunken area (hence the description
as a valley) enclosed by 1000m high walls of lava, split with great
crevasses and chasms. This zone has been the scene of violent eruptions,
with flows of lava that succeeded in reaching the towns below (1852,
1950, 1979 and 1991).