Everything You Need To Know About Zafferana – Rifugio Sapienza bike route

A full 17 km route that offers unique sensations by bike: Etna in its pure state, asphalt serpentines sinuously cutting through black lava and blue sea landscapes, all bathed in the warm Mediterranean light.

It is the demanding stage dedicated to the sporting endeavors of Vincenzo Nibali, who as a teenager had his sports gym here: from Zafferana Etnea to the Sapienza Refuge, 1.322 meters in altitude spread over 17.8 kilometers, with an average gradient of 7%, on rough asphalt constructed to prevent risk when it rains, we will make a single pull of at least an hour and a half without encountering rest points.

Zafferana is the village that several times, but especially in 1992, recorded a series of massive eruptions that reconfigured the landscape: only after 4 months’ work did the Civil Protection department manage to tame the lava by diverting its course, imposing the victory of man over nature, as the man from Messina, Nibali, the “Shark” imposed himself on the volcano from an early age, challenging and defeating its strength.

The stage begins at 580 meters above sea level, from the center of Zafferana, a town paved in lava stone. From the built-up area, the road begins to climb, with gradients of over 10%, with a straight run of eight hundred meters. Challenging curves will lead us into the tourist area that houses hotels, then the landscape will become clear, turning into a gray rocky vista.

After passing Piano del Vescovo, above an altitude of 1,800 meters, paying close attention to the uneven surface in several points, we will reach the valley dominated by the Silvestri Craters and then to the Sapienza Refuge station, where we will be able to enjoy a rest at the end of the stage, as well as an incredible view of the bay of Catania up to Syracuse.


17,81 Km

Gain Elevation

1.322 mt

Maximum Altitude

1.905 mt


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