"GROTTA DEL GELO"
The southernmost glacier in Europe is in Sicily
The Grotta del Gelo is a unique Etna cave, a “magic” cave in which it is winter even when it is summer. So called for the perennial presence of ice that for over three hundred years has been accumulating inside. At an altitude of 2,025 meters is the perennial ice more than three meters thick where above is fire and below is ice. It extends for 125 meters in length with a difference in height of 30 meters.
A cave with a high slope, with a funnel-shaped entrance of about ten meters in diameter, usually covered with snow until spring. Thanks to the shape of the cave, the snow slides deep inside, where it has the opportunity to freeze.
- Inside the glacier even in the warmest periods, the temperature never rises above the -6 C;
- It was once known only by the shepherds, because they used it to water their flocks;
- At the beginning of the seventies, it became a destination for hikers, tourists, experts and scientists, thanks to its opening and its conical shape;
- Until World War II, the “ice and snow trade” was also practiced.
How to reach the Grotta del Gelo
The Grotta del Gelo can be reached after about five hours of walking on the volcano, the easiest route starts from the “sea-snow road” of Etna. From here starts a path that can also be used by bike that leads to the refuge Timpa Rossa. Once you arrive, you will find a path on the rough lava marked by stone turrets, sticks planted on the ground and some spray of paint, which will bring you to the Cave of Frost.
In summer the cave is easily accessible, although it takes 5 hours to reach it. In winter its entrance is often hidden by snow, which completely covers it.