Zafferana Etnea is a magical place near Catania. Known as the City of Honey, the place is located on the southeast slopes of Mount Etna, the largest volcano in Europe.
Geography of Zafferana Etnea
It is one of the municipalities of the Etna Regional Park and its territory includes the three large valleys which according to accredited hypotheses represent the testimony of the sequence of the genesis of the volcano: Valle del Bove, Val Calanna and Valle San Giacomo.
The town is nestled in a valley, at the foot of the Pomiciaro (1715 m asl), Zoccolaro (1739 m asl) and Fior di Cosimo (1178 m asl) mountains, arranged in length parallel to the Ionian coast, on whose sea it looks like a terrace.
Located in a pleasant position for lovers of tranquility and nature, it is a few kilometers from the major centers (Catania 24.6 km, Taormina 36.6 km, Acireale 13.7 km) and is halfway between the sea and the mountain.
Zafferana represents one of the gateways to the volcano, thanks to the Etna provincial road which connects it to the tourist resort of Rifugio Sapienza (Nicolosi) on one side, and to that of Piano Provenzana (Linguaglossa) on the other.
The genesis of the name: the pearl of Etna
There are several hypotheses on the origin of the name; some scholars believe that the word derives from the Arabic Zaufanah, which means “yellow”, due to the abundance of rushes and gorse found in the local woods; others think that the name comes from Arabic words with the meaning of “district rich in water” or “whistle of the wind”.
The most reliable hypothesis is found in the Italian Encyclopedia of Gerolamo Boccardo, in which, referring to the cultivation of saffron, he writes that this cultivation «was the main industry in the modern community of Zafferana Etnea; which took its name from that culture “. This supposition is confirmed by the painting of the Madonna della Provvidenza (1838) by Giuseppe Rapisardi, in which a vase with saffron flowers is painted.
It is called the “Pearl of Etna”.
Honey, the gold of Etna
If you like Honey Zafferana Etnea is of course a place to visit. Honey, considered the gold of Etna, is the main source of income for the population. With over seven hundred beekeepers, Zafferana boasts the production of approximately 15% of national honey, with product varieties ranging from wildflower to orange, from eucalyptus to chestnut. The “lapari” (beekeepers) from Zafferano undertook this activity from around 1920, when they experimented with this profession and transformed it into a real art. Saffron honey is renowned throughout Italy; excellent for its curative properties (depending on the laxative type, against coughs, colds, etc.), it is currently used for the preparation of sweets and typical dishes.