Have to be honest, the reward is worth it. However, although not the fittest person I was travelling with a friend who regularly does 10km runs and he struggled as did I. He wanted to do the 900M climb but on the day the tour cancelled due to the weather. I was happy to do the 400M platform to look over to the craters. Bearing in mind the tme and money spent we decided to walk the 400. The weather changes within 30mins so we were sure it would brighten up.
I say walk but honestly the 400M is a proper climb. It took me about 2.5/3hrs to get to the platform going at my own pace (I didn't fancy a tour with the pressure of having to keep up).
There are few signs to tell you where you are or how high you are, nor signs on how far to the 400M. On the way up I got drenched ina rain storm - think standing in a shower fully clothed for 40mins) but the weather cleared by the 400m and I had some great views (and sunset). Didn't see a lava flow this time and the eruptions were pretty random so missed getting a good photo (once you realise it's erupted the moment has gone) but the experience was amazing and the sound of the Volcano was awesome.
I agree with other posters though - it is a tough walk, long walk and you must take water and some food (I took chocolate which gave an instant energy hit).
For the way back down you MUST MUST MUST have a good bright (white light) torch. My friend had one with cheap (10 for a £1) batteries and half way down they were flat and he would have been stranded. On the way down it is pitch black, you cannot see anything.
Note with the 400M you go back the way you came so expect a tough return to the village.
I agree, the restaurant by the Church is not good. Food I had there was poor (I travel in Italy alot with business so I know good Italian food), service poor and snooty. Really didn't feel welcome.
I will go back and enjoy more for the things I learnt this time.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.