Not afraid to feel some heat? There are few things more exhilarating than standing beneath a mighty volcano! Italy is jam-packed with these, sometimes terrifying, beauties – including the largest active volcano in Europe.
If you’ve got your heart set on an Italian getaway, why not pack up your hire car and embark on an epic road trip around some of the country’s most famous fissures? The gelato and pizza loving nation is home to 48 in total (don’t worry, most of them are extinct!) and they’re set within some pretty stunning locations.
To start you off, here’s our round up of the most spectacular volcanos to stop off at on a grand tour of sensational Italia:
If you like to live life on the edge, Mount Etna is for you
Italy’s largest active volcano is the 10,000ft high Mount Etna and it really is a sight to behold! You’ll find it near Catania on the island of Sicily and it’s pretty exhilarating to stand beneath it – especially as it’s one of the most dangerous volcanos in Europe!
Etna’s five crater’s spew out ash and lava constantly, making it extremely likely that you’ll witness an eruption during your visit. Don’t worry though – the volcano’s activity is monitored at all times and the site is closed off if it’s deemed unsafe.
While Etna looks incredibly impressive from afar against a clear blue sky, adrenaline junkies will want to catch the cable car up to the 8,200ft point and then go on a guided trek or 4×4 jeep safari to the Valle del Bove at the volcano’s summit. Pass through desolate wasteland and look out for molten lava flowing from Etna’s craters!
If you want to imagine you’re a Roman warrior, Mount Vesuvius is calling
Want to combine volcano visits with ancient ruins? You can’t skip out this legendary volcano near Naples that was infamously responsible for the destruction of the city of Pompeii in 79AD. While technically still active, Mount Vesuvius hasn’t had a significant eruption since the 1940s, which means it’s a relatively safe pick if the thought of standing on a volcano makes you nervous!
The brave among you will want to slap on some sun cream and trek along Mount Vesuvius 3.4km hiking trail that takes you right around its crater. The start is accessible by car, although you’ll need to pay to enter (it’s part of a National Park). Or you can view it from the sunny town of Sorrento or the UNESCO World Heritage Pompeii archaeological site, whichever you fancy.
Pompeii is an absolute must-see thanks to its amazing excavated streets and houses which appear frozen in time. There’s also eery statues which are plaster casts made from the calcified remains of actual Romans who lived in the city. Creepy!
Tired of walking or driving? Fancy a boat trip … (and who doesn’t?), Stromboli should be top of your list
Keen to head out onto the water and leave the walking behind? Of course you are… it’s definitely time for a rest. And Sicily has your back, with a boat tour to the tiny isle of Stromboli. It’s only a short hop from Mount Etna, making Sicily a double whammy when it comes to volcano themed vacations!
First things first. Stromboli is the third and final volcano in Italy that’s still active. Ready to see lava spill? You might just get the chance. This volcano is almost always erupting and has even earned itself the nickname “The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” as its jets of bright orange lava can be seen from miles away at night!
Feel like stretching the legs to do some walking? By simply hopping on a boat from Milazzo on the main island you can head off on a guided hike to the volcano’s old crater. This is the perfect viewpoint as it sits around 650ft above the active crater. Want to live on the wild side and snooze in the shadow of one of the world’s most active volcanos? Well there’s a handful of hotels at Stromboli’s base!
If you love a glass of Italian vino, Monte Vulture is the volcano for you
If you’d rather relax on your Italian volcano discovery tour, it doesn’t get much more chilled out than Monte Vulture. Found in the Basilicata region, about halfway between Naples and Bari, it’s now famed for being at the heart of one of Italy’s major wine growing regions.
A little off the beaten track and the only one of Italy’s volcanos situated east of the Apennine Mountains, Monte Vulture is pretty special. Its last recorded eruption was over 40,000 years ago and it’s currently a wonderful place for hikes, picnics and, of course, wine tasting! The volcanic earth is perfect for grape growing and non-drivers can enjoy a glass or two of the area’s delicious DOC Aglianico del Vulture red wine (and pick up a bottle to enjoy at home later….)
If you’re not afraid of heights, why not test that theory at Monte Amiata?
Fancy an escape to sun-drenched Tuscany? As well as being home to fabulous cities like Florence and Pisa, mouth-watering cuisine and a great wine-growing heritage (Chianti, anyone?), it’s also filled with lush landscapes – including the Monte Amiata mountain range.
Monte Amiata is nestled on the southern edge of Tuscany and it’s the tallest dormant volcano in Italy, stretching to a whopping 5,696ft! Pretty much untouched, Monte Amiata is a magnet for active adventurers after pristine hiking trails. You could also navigate its pretty paths on horseback or bike. Plus, if you get peckish, there’s a handful of chocolate-box hamlets with rustic restaurants where you can tuck into dishes made from regional ingredients like chestnuts, mushrooms and wild boar.
If you don’t want to stray too far from Rome, Monte Cavo is perfect
Planning to stick to the Lazio region during your Italian getaway? You’re in luck as there’s a volcano right on Rome’s doorstep. Monte Cavo may have gone extinct almost 10,000 years ago, but its slopes are still well-worth a look-see if you’re a fan of jaw-dropping panoramas.
The city of Rocca di Papa lies in Monte Cavo’s northern shadow and is the jumping off point for jaunts up to its epic viewpoint. You can park your car in the town and walk up to the top along Vie Del Prato. Rather not bake in the Lazio sun? Drive all the way up on Via Scalette.
Fun fact for history buffs: Monte Cavo was sacred to the Romans and once a prime pilgrimage site thanks to the now ruined temple of Jupiter at its summit!