Nicolosi’s history begins in the 12th century, when a Benedictine Monastery dedicated to San Nicolò l’Arena was erected on a former Chapel. This was to be moved to Catania some century later. Around the monastery soon grew a village that took the name of the religious building, long ruled by the Moncadas from Paternò.
Nicolosi has numerous buildings of architectural and historical interest. The Mother Church, dedicated to the Holy Spirit was largely restructured after the 1669 eruption; it contains several interesting works of art such as a wooden Crucifix and an organ.
The benedictine monastery of San Nicolò l’Arena, at a short distance from town, was built at Frederick II of Aragon’s behest. It is now seat of the Etna Park.
Among the minor churches a mention must go to San Giuseppe’s and the small Anime del Purgatorio’s.
In Nicolosi, where the official guides are centred (095/7914755), begins a nice road that stretches up to the Rifugio Sapienza, from where excursions to the crater start.
Up to the summit of Etna – The route lies through a strangely unnerving landscape with black lava below and blue sky above, relieved occasionally by a white patch of snow or lonely cloud as if for dramatic effect. Before getting to the refuge, a sign points to the Crateri Silvestri, moonlike craters a short walk away, at a height of 1886 m.