RIFUGIO SAPIENZA (Etna hotel)
The construction of what was to become the Rifugio Sapienza took place by the hand of the State during the years immediately preceding the Second World War. The purpose was to build a structure dedicated to the Voluntary Militias, offering the logistic base for the tutorials in view of the “Littoriali Games”. The carriage road didn’t reach yet the Rifugio and was reached by foot from the Casa Cantoniera.
The construction remained incomplete for the onset of the war.
With the end of the war, and the arrival of democracy, the buildings built for the activities of the previous regimen, were given, in sold or in rent, to socially institution intended for cultural, sports and associative activities of the new Republics. So it was that the Etna’s Section of Italian Alpine Club ( C.A.I.) obtained in sold, for 84.000 lire, that historical building and the surrounding soil.
Starting from 1946 with an exacting restoration and expansion, made possible by the devotion and enthusiasm of sectionals Presidents: Umberto Franzina and after Paolo Fontana, with one million and half of lire, was completed a project drawn up by engineers Oliviero Scuto and Alfio Amantia. The amount was collected among the members of C.A.I. and completed by a generous contribution of Domenico Sapienza, in memory of whose brother, Giovannino Sapienza, died in war, enthusiast alpinist and leader of the Section, was titled the Rifugio. In the meantime the structure was increased from 42 to 100 beds, with large and forward-looking restaurant for 200 places, and, since the early 60’s, first work realised in the area, is available of the touristic and mountaineering fruition of Etna.
Other subsequent works of improvement, adaptation to the new regulations, they brought him the current level of comfort and update.
But the Rifugio has also a “volcanic” history connected to activities of Etna. Eruptions and earthquakes were bitter against him. The most dramatic lava flow occurred on April 9, 1983, when the lava leaned against the North wall, going up until second floor, surrounding the entire building and destroying “The Fire-place”, a structure adjacent reserved only for members of C.A.I. In 2001 and in 2002 the lava flows headed for the Rifugio. The second, after touching the starting station of Cableway, went straight on Rifugio Sapienza. The timely intervention of men and Civil Protection assets, together to engineers of Italian Army and C.A.I volunteer were able to control the course of lava flow until doesn’t came the exhaustion of the supply upstream. The Sapienza was safe.
Today, the Rifugio Sapienza hotel is able to accommodate 55 person in 24 rooms (single, double, triple) all furnished in modern-country style, with inside services (shower or bath), television, lift and an amazing landscape that ranges from the southern coasts of Sicily, to those of Calabria.
For years managed by the well-known entrepreneur from Catania Gioacchino Russo, today the Rifugio Sapienza is managed by two young entrepreneur from Ragalna.
Welcome to Rifugio Sapienza, the most famous refuge of the world.