Piano Provenzana or Rifugio Sapienza

The differences between Piano Provenzana and Rifugio Sapienza

The differences between Piano Provenzana and Rifugio Sapienza? Here it is, a comparison of the two sides of Etna volcano. Discover the differences between Etna Nord and Etna Sud: two completely different territories!

etna north
etna south


Piano Provenzana is located on the northern side of Etna. If you arrive from Giardini Naxos, Taormina, Letojanni, Messina, Castiglione di Sicilia, Randazzo or Linguaglossa, this is the easiest side to reach in less time.

Rifugio Sapienza is located on the southern side of Etna. The south side is more accessible for those who come from Zafferana Etnea, Nicolosì, Catania, Siracusa and Noto.

Car accessibility

The two sides are about 50 km apart and can be reached either by car, taxi or bus.

Unfortunatly there is no public transport to Piano Provenzana in this moment. Instead to get to Rifugio Sapienza you will find bus services that connect Catania to Rifugio Sapienza. So if you want to go to Piano Provenzana you need a car or you can take a taxi. To get to Piano Provenzana you need to take the Mareneve road from Linguaglossa or from Fornazzo.

To get to Rifugio Sapienza there is the Provincial Road 92 that goes up from Zafferana Etnea or from Nicolosi.

Rifugio Sapienza - Etna Sud

North and South side connection

The two sides are not directly connected. So if you want to go from the North side to the South side you have to go down to the valley and then back up. It takes about 50 km (1 hour drive).

For adventure lovers there is a dirt road of about 38 km that connects the two sides: “la Pista Altomontana” that for its scenic beauty makes the route unique. Ideal to be explored by mountain bike or by foot.

The difference between Etna North and Etna South

The two sides of Etna are different one from the other. The side of Rifugio Sapienza is extremely touristic, since this side is much more known. Also because you find the Mount Etna cable car on this side of the Etna volcano. It is an easy way to get higher on Mount Etna. But in winter, Etna North is much more visited when the skislopes are open.

Piano Provenzana is less touristy, but you will find a volcanic beauty determined by the contrast between the green of nature and the black of extinct eruptions.

Etna Cable Car (Funivia dell’Etna)

The Etna cable car is located at Etna Sud. The cable car starts at an altitude of 1923 meters, next to Rifugio Sapienza. With the cable car you reach in a few minutes an altitude of 2500 meters. From here, off-road vehicles (4×4 buses) leave to take you to 2750 meters height, since this is now the maximum height due to the activity of the volcano. Otherwise the buses take you to an altitude of 2900 meters.

If you want to go to the summit craters of Etna you have to walk up the last 400 meters of elevation gain to 3300 meters. This is only allowed with an authorized volcanological guide and you must always book in advance. For now the top craters are close due the the extreme activity of the Etna volcano.

Excursion bus 4×4 Piano Provenzana

On the North side there is no cable car, but the excursion to the summit craters of Etna is made with comfortable 4×4 buses that from Piano Provenzana climb on a dirt track up to 2900 meters.

During the route, volcanological guides will explain the evolution of Etna volcano and you will visit several extinct craters.

Visit old craters

In both Piano Provenzana and Rifugio Sapienza you can go and see some old extinct craters.

Piano Provenzana is best known for the last great eruption of 2002 that destroyed the tourist area and the various structures around it. Starting from Piano Provenzana in a hike of about 1.5 hours you can go to visit these craters of the 2002 eruption. You can also book a fantastic excursion to these craters:

Spino santo lava 2002

An impressive excursion that makes you relive the tragic moments of the eruption and see and understand the power of our Etna volcano.

On the south side you can visit the Silvestri Craters. In only 20 minutes of walking you find yourself on the edge of the upper Silvestri crater. From here you have a beautiful view on the lower Silvestri crater and you can see the coast to Syracuse.