782 / Monte Nero degli Zappini
This has been the first Sentiero Natura ever to be created in Sicily (in mid-1991) and today it remains one of the most popular hiking trails in the territory of the Etna Park. It is named after the Sicilian dialectal term for pine trees. The route is not particularly difficult. It unwinds from the plateau located West of Monte Vetore (1823 m a.s.l.) at a short distance from the Grande Albergo dell’Etna. It crosses ancient and recent lava fields (1985-2001), lava flow caves, hornitos, “cannon-shaped” stones (solidified sarcophagi of lava solidified around tree trunks), wooded formations, impressive pines of exceptional beauty, and finally reaches the Botanical Garden New Gussonea.
This was created by the University of Catania and the Regional Forestry Authority and represents a very important study place. Here all the main environments characterising the Etna area have been recreated and all the plant species of Etna can be observed. From here, along a stretch of paved road, the starting point is reached and the ring route completed. The trail develops entirely within the Forestry Property and offers several observation points, each with its specific features, constituting a significant cross-section of the natural environment of Mount Etna. It is advisable to walk the trail in spring and autumn, avoiding the hot summer climate and the sudden snowfalls that may occur in winter.