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Linguaglossa, nearly 6,000 inhabitants and lying at 550m a.s.l., is especially renowned as a ski resort. Its name, literally translating “tongue” both in Italian (lingua) and Greek (tongue), refers, according to an intriguing hypothesis, to its hot position on the slopes of the volcano, many times invaded by its lava. It was supposedly founded by survivors of Naxos as apparently attest some Greek relics unearthed by the Ficheri creek.
The city has much to offer both historically and artistically. Visitors can begin with the 1600’s Mother Church dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie. Its façade combines lava and sand stone. Inside it has three naves adorned with two beautiful paintings attributed to Olivo Sozzi and a 1700’s carved wooden choir where are illustrated scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.
The church of the Immaculate Virgin, with an adjacent convent – both dating from the early 1600’s – preserves the precious “Custodia”, a wooden carved ciborium of the 18th century, a carved walnut main altar and an altar-piece depicting the Immaculate Virgin and the Saints.
Among the minor churches, a mention must go the Annunciation’s and S. Egidio’s.
CITY SURROUNDINGS AND THE ETNA
Linguaglossa environs offer a range of landscape and opportunities. Hiking trails, ski facilities and naturalistic areas like the Bosco di Linguaglossa, where are the interesting Femmine, Palombe and Lamponi grottos, are major attractions for tourists.
The Pro Loco’s office, in the town’s main street, serves as the main reference point for planning excursions up Etna. Information and explanatory boards provide details about the park and the volcano that can be useful when organising walks in the area.
Driving the road to Mareneve, which is bordered by a nice pine-wood, you reach Piano Provenzana, where you can park your car and undertake the climb up to the craters.
Ascent up the North flank – Following a highly scenic route, a 4x4 mini-bus can take you up to 3000m altitude. A new observatory has been built here, replacing the one destroyed by lava during the 1971’s eruption (lasting 69 days) which affected both the southern (wiping out both the observatory and the ropeway) and the eastern slopes, where the lava flow threatened some of the towns below (notably Fornazzo and Milo), before stopping about 7km short of the sea. From the observatory, at 2,750m, there is a magnificent vista. The mini-bus can reach 3,000m where the more intrepid can undertake a walk to the awesome vents. The route may vary according to the latest outward signs given by the volcano. On the downward return journey, you can stop at 2,440m and examine the craters that were the cause of the 1809 eruption.
Eastern Route – From Piano Provenzana, follow the scenic Mareneve road skirting the eastern side of the mountain. Many farming villages have grown on the lower slopes exploiting the fertile volcanic soil by cultivating vines and citrus fruits.
Near Randazzo, just before taking the road connecting Linguaglossa and Zafferana Etnea, it passes the lava flow which incredibly spared the little Cappella del Sacro Cuore (on the left), only sligthly penetrating it. Regarded as having been preserved by a miracle, the chapel is a favorite goal of devotees, who come here to give thanks, bearing ex-voto offerings. From Fornazzo a road down to the left leads to Sant’Alfio.