724 – 724A / Case Pietracannone – Passo Dammusi
Located in the outskirts of Zafferana Etnea at an altitude of 657 m a.s.l., the village of Ballo marks the starting point of this trail. From the driveway in the initial segment, it gradually becomes more rustic to turn finally into a simple path alternating large stretches of rough lava fields from the 1852 and 1951 eruptions, with verdant areas spared by recent eruptions (Piano Bello). After 45 minutes, hikers get past the giant Ilice di Carrinu, which is believed to be 800 years old. Then, along the southern edge, after 6.7 km it is possible to reach a modest pass located under M. Fontane and overlooking the Valle del Bove, or alternatively head on to Case Pietracannone (1,150 m), Hiking Base Point located along the SP “Mareneve di Fornazzo”.
From here, the route bends North-West to face a long, shaded, steep ascent along the Pineta della Cubania, to rejoin the aforementioned S.P. at an altitude of 1,675, from where hikers can proceed left to the Citelli Lodge for an additional 950 m and, after 200 m, take another entrance on the right into the State Forestry Property. For a few hundred meters now, the track is unfolding across a not very wide area featuring a colony of splendid birch trees. From here, the track becomes almost flat, going from 1,660 m (where the bar marking the State Property border is located) to 1,800 m of Piano Provenzana, which can be reached after additional 5.6 km.
Along this segment, hikers immediately leave the Sartorius Mountains, born in 1865 and featuring a specific Sentiero Natura, on their right. Further on the left, the very steep Hiking Trail no. 722 (see above) departs and further into that, with a detour of just 200 m to the left, it is possible to reach the M. Baracca Lodge, in whose already pleasant surroundings are a “pietracannone” as well as the bed of an ephemeral water course with a perfectly smooth lava bottom. After Piano Provenzana, the trail heads up north and runs into M. Nero di Linguaglossa, which can be passed either from the right via the main route (trail no. 724, touching an altitude of 1,920 m a.s.l.) or from the left, via the alternative trail no. 724A. The latter slightly exceeds an altitude of 2,000 m a.s.l. and allows passing near the M. Timparossa Lodge (1,838 m).
Once the two trails have joined, the route descends towards Passo dei Dammusi (1,709 m), where it connects to the Pista Altomontana (Hiking Trail no. 701). Just below the afore mentioned refuge, a shortcut (Trail no. 739) allows reaching the Grotta delle Palombe area more quickly to continue on the Sentiero Italia towards the Valle dell’Alcantara.
The entire route is 26,250 km long; it crosses a difference in altitude of 1,375 m and is part of the Sentiero Italia.