The beautiful island of Sicily is one of the most idyllic holiday hotspots in the Mediterranean – thanks, in part, to its winning combination of sun, sand and sparkling sea. However, the breath-taking natural landscapes of Sicily are the festive gifts that keep on giving as, when the mercury drops, the majestic mountains are given a dusting of snow, allowing visitors to hit the slopes and indulge in their favourite winter sports at one of the island’s ski resorts.
It might be hard to imagine skiing in Sicily, especially at the height of summer, when temperatures raise the roof and the miles of alluring coastline come alive with sun-worshippers. However, snow is not as unusual on the island as you might assume. In fact, regal Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, is usually topped with a blanket of snow from December right through to April whilst the higher peaks of the Madonie and Nebrodi mountain ranges might experience the same for a few weeks –usually at some point in January or February.
Sicily’s resorts may not be as renowned or as large as others in Europe but this works in the island’s favour – the crowds are few and far between. Ski schools provide lessons and equipment hire too, providing the option of a full skiing trip or enjoying the slopes as a day trip whilst staying in another of Sicily’s scenic destinations. Take advantage of an island that boasts sunshine and snow with a visit to one of Sicily’s three ski resorts and experience the unusual blend of a winter getaway and Mediterranean island break – two for the price of one.
Etna Nord – Piano Provenzana
The smaller of the two ski resorts which reside on mighty Mount Etna’s slopes, picturesque Piano Provenzana provides excellent access to the wonders of the volcano from its northern spot just 16km up from the town of Linguaglossa. There are no trees on the higher slopes to obstruct your path or view – off-piste snowboarding and kite skiing are popular activities up here. However, a beautiful pine wood blankets the area between Linguagloss and Milo, providing an alpine backdrop to the simpler trails. There are four lifts with trails ranging from easy slopes through the woods to a set of moderately difficult runways, one of which is usually reserved for competitive events.
Etna Sud – Rifugio Sapienza
The larger and more popular resort of Rifugio Sapienza is located on Etna’s southern slopes near to the town of Nicolosi. At 1923m it is higher than Piano Provenzana and offers more vertical than the northern resort. The resort features four lifts and a cable car to service a selection of trails for all levels. At both Mount Etna resorts, it is possible to book a guide to accompany you to the summit – here, you can peer down into the sulphuric mists of the crater at 3200m or look out at panoramic sea views with the surreal knowledge that the warmer climes of the coast are only a short drive away.
Madonie Mountains – Piano Battaglia
Sicily’s alternative ski resort is situated in the heart of the wild Madonie Mountain range. Charming Piano Battaglia has a distinctive appearance reminiscent of the Swiss Alps with its traditional cha-lets dotting the slopes. The northern slopes stretch up to 1856m whilst the southern reach 1657m – one of the southern runs is around 500m in length and there are also wonderful cross-country ski-ing opportunities at certain times of the year. It is also possible to scale the highest peak, the Pizzo Carbonara at 1979m, if weather conditions permit.
How to reach Sicily’s ski resorts?
To reach Mount Etna’s ski resorts, the nearest airport is Catania. It will take you around an hour to drive from here to the volcano’s southern slopes. However, Mount Etna also makes an excellent day trip from the popular towns of Messina and Taormina should you wish to break up your winter wonderland experience with a stay in a seaside resort. Piano Battaglia, in the Madonies, is about equidistant from Catania and Palermo airport – it takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes from both to reach the resort.
Perhaps it is time to escape the crowds of your usual winter getaway to France or Switzerland and instead try Sicily, where sun, sea, sand and now skiing can all take a place on the agenda. Why not check out our villa and apartment collections now to find the perfect base for your winter trip?