Cycling

If cycling is your thing, there are some fine (albeit tough) trails around the mountain; Etna Touring in Nicolosi organises guided rides on request. From 2020, it also plans to resume offering bike hire (€15 per day). Contact the outfit for updates.

Skiing

Sicily is an unlikely skiing destination, but you can do both downhill and cross-country here between late December and March. The state of the slopes and how many lifts are working depends on the latest volcanic activity – check the current situation at www.etnasci.it (in Italian). A useful English-language website with information of Mt Etna's ski slopes is www.skiresort.info.

In decent conditions there are five pistes on the southern side of the mountain and three on the northern side. A daily ski pass costs €30.

Savouring Etna

Mt Etna's rich volcanic soils produce some of Italy's finest wines. This is the home of Etna DOC, one of 23 Sicilian wines to carry the Denominazione di Origine Controllata denomination. While there are numerous wineries offering wine degustations, many (including those listed below) require that you book at least a day ahead.

Among the area's standout wineries is Planeta Feudo di Mezzo, a highly acclaimed estate located 3.2km southwest of Passopisciaro. Wine degustations take place in a historic pressing room, with a tasting of five wines (€30 per person) including samples of typical local bites. A lunch of traditional recipes (€55 to €65) is also available.

Also in Passopisciaro is Vini Calcagno, a small, fourth-generation family enterprise especially noted for its rosé. The family offers tours of its century-old vines and degustations of its wines and olive oils (with accompanying charcuterie) in one of the old pressing cabins (€15 per person). If you're a fan of low-intervention wines, book a tasting (€25 per person) at nearby Cantina Frank Cornelissen. Cornelissen's natural wines are rightfully fawned over by oenophiles across the globe. Visits include a vineyard tour and a degustation of its cru wines (€140 per person) is also available.

From Passopisciaro, the SS120 leads to big-gun winery Vini Patria, 1.5km to the east. Degustations (three wines with bread and olive oil €10, four wines with cheese and salami €19) include a tour of the site, including the fascinating bottling plant. A further 2km east is Cave Ox, a humble trattoria loved by local gourmands for its high-quality local specialities, including salumi (charcuterie) made from local black pigs.

For an especially intimate winery experience, make time for Cantina Malopasso. Just south of Zafferana Etnea on Etna's eastern flank, its young, talented winemakers are making waves with nuanced, small-batch wines, often blended with less-common local varietals. Degustations (€22, with a first course €27) are offered from mid-April to December. Zafferana Etnea itself has a long tradition of apiculture, producing up to 35% of Italy's honey. For a taste, visit Oro d'Etna, where you can try honey made from the blossoms of orange, chestnut and lemon trees.