Picked up at 7:30 am and headed up to Etna. What at first seemed very early for an average lazy tourist, it turned out to be a great trick as we were the first there and were able to enjoy the scenery in piece and quiet. On the way down we ran into numerous tourist buses piling up, so definitely to go up before everybody else.
All together we were a small group of 4, guided by Lucia who was super great. Always cheerful and with vast knowledge of vulcanoes and Etna's nature.
All together it was a fantastic half day excursion I would recommend to anyone. Just be careful: when you get to Catania it seems like everybody with a car is also offering excursions to Etna, but obviously the quality of service may be questionable and eve though these agencies (or 'agencies') will most likely have Etna in their name, it is not the same company. However, the real Etna Excursions are very fast at answering to all inquiries, so it shouldn't be a problem to book with the right people.