Mount Etna begins rumbling

Mount Etna begins rumbling

On March 8, 1669, Mount Etna, on the island of Sicily in modern-day Italy, begins rumbling. Multiple eruptions over the next few weeks killed more than 20,000 people and left thousands more homeless. Most of the victims could have saved themselves by fleeing, but stayed, in a vain attempt to save their city.

Mount Etna dominates the island of Sicily. Rising 11,000 feet above sea level in the northeast section of Sicily, it can be seen from just about every part of the island. The geologic history of Mount Etna demonstrates that it has been periodically spewing ash and lava for thousands of years; the first recorded eruption of the volcano was in 475 BCE. It is the most active volcano in Europe. In 1169, an earthquake just prior to an eruption killed 15,000 people on Sicily. Despite the dangers of living near an active volcano, the eruptions made the surrounding soil very fertile, so many small villages developed on the slopes of the mountain.

When Etna began to rumble and belch gas on March 8, the residents nearby ignored the warning signs of a larger eruption. Three days later, the volcano began spewing out noxious fumes in large quantities. Approximately 3,000 people living on the slopes of the mountain died from asphyxiation. Even worse, Etna was soon emitting tremendous amounts of ash and molten lava. The ash was sent out with such force that significant amounts came down in the southern part of mainland Italy, in some cases nearly 100 miles away. Lava also began pouring down the south side of the mountain heading toward the city of Catania, 18 miles to the south along the sea.

At the time, the city of Catania had about 20,000 residents; most failed to flee the city immediately. Instead, Diego de Pappalardo, a resident of the city, led a team of 50 men to Mount Etna, where they attempted to divert the lava flow. Wearing cowhides soaked in water, the men bravely approached the lava with long iron rods, picks and shovels. They were able to hack open a hole in the hardened lava wall that had developed on the outside of the lava flow and much of the flow began to flow west out of the new hole. However, the residents of Paterno, a city lying southwest of Etna were monitoring these developments and quickly realized that this new flow direction could imperil their own city. They literally fought back the Catanians, while the lava breach hardened and filled again.

For several weeks, the lava pushed toward Catania and the sea. Still, the residents failed to evacuate the city. Apparently, they remained hopeful that the lava would stop or the city’s ancient defensive walls would protect them. Neither was the case—the walls were quickly swallowed by the extremely hot lava and nearly 17,000 people in Catania died. Most of the city was destroyed. Catania was not the only city affected—the eruption wiped out 14 towns and villages and left about 27,000 people homeless.

Following this disaster, it was decreed that interference with the natural flow of lava was prohibited in Italy, a regulation that remained in effect hundreds of years later.

What tectonic plate is Mount Etna on?

Mount Etna: Plate Tectonic Setting Mount Etna is associated with the subduction of the African plate under the Eurasian plate, which also produced Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei, but is part of a different volcanic arc (the Calabrian rather than Campanian).

Also Know, is Mount Etna on a destructive plate boundary? Mount Etna is located on the Italian island of Sicily. It is an example of a composite volcano situated on a destructive plate boundary- where the African plate is forced beneath the Eurasian plate. Etna is still constantly active. In addition to Etna, Italy's other active volcanoes are Mount Vesuvius and Stromboli.

Additionally, what tectonic plate is Sicily on?

The geology of Sicily (a large island located at Italy's southwestern end) records the collision of the Eurasian and the African plates during westward-dipping subduction of the African slab since late Oligocene.

How often does Mount Etna erupt?

Since 2000, Etna has had four flank eruptions &ndash in 2001, 2002&ndash2003, 2004&ndash2005, and 2008&ndash2009. Summit eruptions occurred in 2006, 2007&ndash2008, January&ndashApril 2012, in July&ndashOctober 2012 and again in December 2018.

U.S. Volcanic Eruptions: "Non-Volcano Eruptions" Newspaper Clippings

Several springs in the vicinity have totally disappeared. Many of the citizens are very much alarmed, and some even are moving out of the valley, through anticipation and fear of a violent eruption. The writer states that the principle of a volcano has for many years been germinating in Pigeon mountain. About ten miles south from where the present appeared, is the crater of an extinguished volcano, which appears to have been in an active state at no very distant period.

Every appearance goes to vindicate the conjecture that it has been in a state of eruption within less than five hundred years. Several persons of credit have stated that in the Winter of '48 or '49, the earth in the vicinity was in a remarkabley warm state. Others have avowed to have seen smoke with a sulphuric smell issue from a very remarkable cavity which is found in the neighborhood of the place.

New York, March 18. -- A special from Salisbury, N.C., says one report from a scientific source is that the internal noises heard in Bald mountain, resemble those heard in Mount Etna, preparatory to a volcanic eruption. It is heard throughout the county and from a distance of sixteen miles, extending into the adjoining counties. These sounds are not only heard, but a trembling and reverberation of the earth is perceptibly felt. No signs of fire or lava have been discovered.

New York, March 17. -- Raleigh, N.C. dispatches say that Bald Mountain, in the Western part of the State, is in a state of volcanic eruption that houses and cottages on the side, and at the base have been thrown down. The inhabitants in the locality are terror stricken, and are seeking safety in flight. A thin vapor sinks from the top of the mountain, and a low rumbling sound is constantly heard.

RALEIGH, N.C., March 17. -- Passengers from the west on this morning's train confirm the reports of the rumbling noises and the general upheaving of the Bald Mountain in Western Carolina. People living on and near the mountain are moving out, and a volcanic eruption is momentarily expected.

(not typed in, read clipping)

JOURNALISTIC PUSH. -- Fortunate is Walla Walla in the possession of a live journalist. Such an one is Col. Frank J. Parker, editor of the "Statesman." He doesn't allow nature to put on too much style without giving a pen picture of the "very latest." On a recent occasion, a volcano was reported away over in Idaho, an account of which was first sent to THE TIMES by telegraph. We hadn't time to run over and investigate the matter, and are very sorry to say that we were compelled to leave our readers in dreadful suspense till Brother Parker had resolved to be "the first to be there." Always ready to go where duty calls, this enterprising journalist tore himself away from the endearments of civilization and pushed rapidly toward the frontier. His speed was like that of the wind. Passing Dayton, Lewiston and Pharoah's Hill, he made the quickest time to Mt. Idaho. From there he traveled with a pack horse, and wore out the seat of a government pack-saddle. No one but an enterprising newspaper man would have suffered thusly. When Col. Parker reached the ragged edge of the greatest labyrinth of tangled forests ever designated on map or chart, and where no white man had ever been, he could learn less about the volcano than while at Walla Walla. Here he left the remnants of his pack train, and crawled into and through the primeval forest, with glory only seventeen miles away. On and on, manfully he climbed the mountain side, sparring himself onward and upward with the encouraging word, "Excelsior!". He became weary, yet fainted not lost the soles to his boots, yet halted not hungry, and ate naught but still he pressed manfully on with that peculiar trait of hoping against hope -- so common with newspaper men -- leading him on.

When Col. Parker had reached the summit of the mountains, where the volcano was supposed to be, imagine his great astonishment to find right before his eyes the very spot which might be the one he was looking for, and yet it might not. The mountain was charred and torn, was steaming a little, and sent up a peculiar and unpleasant odor. "Bravo! bravo!" shout Stanley "Whooplah! it is the Devil's Hole!" and as such it is known to this day.

Mount Etna’s Fiery Eruptions Are Visible From Space

Since it began rumbling in February, Italy’s Mount Etna has been periodically erupting with forceful bursts of lava. These eruptions are so powerful, in fact, that they are visible some 250 miles above the Earth.

As Matt Wall reports for Space, astronaut Thomas Pesquet captured an image of Mount Etna from his perch inside the International Space Station. Pesquet, who is an astronaut with the European Space Agency, posted the image to Twitter on Tuesday. “The volcano is currently erupting,” he wrote, “and the molten lava is visible from space, at night!”

In the right-hand corner of the image, you can see a cluster of lights from the city of Catania, which is located near Mount Etna. The left-hand corner of the image is dark, with the exception of a few glowing streaks. These streaks, Pesquet explained in his Twitter post, are rivers of lava slithering down the mountain.

A snapshot of an earlier eruption was captured by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite on March 16—the same day that 10 people were injured by an unexpected blast from the volcano.

Mount Etna is the tallest volcano in Europe, with a looming height of 10,000 feet. It is also one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Etna was relatively quiet last year, according to Erik Klemeti of Wired. But the volcano has been punctuating 2017 with beautiful, terrifying eruptions that have transfixed people around the world—and in space.

A photo of a March 16 eruption, captured by the European Space Agency's Sentinel-2A satellite. The snow around the mountain has been processed in blue, to distinguish it from clouds. (Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2017), processed by ESA)

Mount Etna is erupting…

Liquid rock, thats something for the mind to comprehend.

While it’s time to sacrifice some virgins, there’s one little problem …

I’ve heard about a a girl named Greta that might be available…

[in greta voice] “how dare you”!…

For Sale …Future beach front property in Southern Tennessee. Call Al Gore at BR549

My father was a Gunner’s Mate aboard the USS Wasp (CV-7) from 1938 to 1942 when a Japanese submarine sunk her on her way to Guadalcanal.
The Wasp was used often in FDR’s illegal war on Nazi Germany before Pearl Harbor officially brought us into the conflict..
Whether participating in the invasion of Vichy French Martinique, helping the British Royal Navy look for the Bismarck or ferrying Spitfires to the beleaguered island of Malta, the Wasp helped the British fight Germany “unofficially.”
While in the Mediterranean in 1940, my father watched from the deck of the Wasp a major Mt. Etna eruption.

Maybe we should sacrifice a bunch of Jen Z to appease the gods of climate change

Mount Etna is spectacular when it erupts, but it erupts quite often. That may be a good thing as that way the catastrophic explosions of other volcanoes are less likely to happen in Sicily.

A thousand volcanoes erupt at the same time and it sure causes climate disruption. Just remember how many 10s of thousands of volcanoes we have on Earth. Climate change is naturally occurring.

Climate is used as one of the biggest hoaxes of all time. People educated in public schools for the last 50 years all been dumb downed dramatically.

I’ve been telling people this for ages. One major eruption puts out more carbon dioxide and pollution than all the cars on earth for about 100 years. Man-made climate change is the biggest scam in history, next to the stolen election in 2020.

So you think 85 million people voted for Biden? editing to add: why are democrats trying so hard to stop the audits then?

Yes your right the continuation should result in a sizeable ice age, it’s called the eddy grand solar minimum, it’s already underway

however when the side of the volcano collapses into the Mediterranean Sea the resulting tsunami will wipe out the coasts

Naturally. Who else has that much power?

Lookit all those greenhouse gases being spewed into the atmosphere. Etna is only one of several currently erupting volcano’s spewing massive amounts of sulfur dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

We’re doomed, DOOMED I tell you.

The world will end in the coming decade. Seas will rise and the earth will cook in all the heat. People who have lived in the equatorial regions of earth for millennia will undoubtedly have to migrate or DIE. All the water will evaporate, crops and livestock will die from lack of water. We’re all going to STARVE. Oh the humanity.

/sarc – for all of those out there that never learned to read.

Clearly people in places where the avg temperature is 80° have to move to only all the white countries where the avg temperature is 50° because the earth is warming by 1°. Makes perfect sense.

Sandy fallout to the south

The winds pushed the volcanic material first towards Acireale, then suddenly to the south, with black sand falling on Mascalucia, Paternò, Misterbianco, Nicolosi and Catania. As always, the paroxysmal activity ended in two hours, without serious damage. Too bad for the clouds caused by the humid climate of these days that have covered Mount Etna, preventing many from seeing yet another great show!

By now the volcano’s rhythm seems to have stabilized at a paroxysm every 30-40 hours, although lately the time interval has lengthened. Although they cannot predict the duration of these phenomena over time, volcanologists are sure that Etna will offer many more. It is part of the “eruptive phase” in which the volcano has entered for a couple of years now and which will reserve many surprises.

UPDATE 27.02.2021

After a week of fire and lava, explosions and violent tremors, Mount Etna hasn’t expressed anything for 48 hours.

A silence that amazes and leaves the many “fans” waiting with cell phones in hand, but it does not upset the INGV volcanologists that much. There is a break, perhaps even a long one. It could be weeks, maybe months. But the volcano can hardly be considered “quiet”.

These cyclical phases, which are repeated at well-defined periods, also give these long pauses but the paroxysms are always ready to resume, in a not too distant future. So let’s say that at the moment the eruption seems to have subsided but we don’t know how it can evolve in the next few days (or in the next 24 hours?).



A powerful paroxysm started from the South East Crater around 9 am on February 28, 2021, a few hours after the INGV announcement that the eruption had “subsided” for the moment.

But Etna always takes you by surprise and this time it really left everyone speechless. A huge cloud of slag, lapilli and ash has enveloped the eastern flank of the volcano causing heavy repercussions on the villages of Zafferana, Milo, Giarre, Mascali, Riposto.

The sky was totally dark like in a real storm. The eruptive phenomenon also this time had a short but intense duration, less than two hours.

UPDATE 24.02.2021

UPDATE 23.02.2021

Mount Etna Eruption 2021

Without brakes, but with a now constant pace, Mount Etna continues its daily eruptions. In the late evening of today, Monday 22 February 2021, the volcano thunders again in the dark. The INGV press release brings the time of 22:56 when it informs everyone that:

“there is an increase in frequency and intensity of Strombolian activity at the South East Crater, with the launch of products abundantly outside the crater rim. From about 21:10 UTC the average amplitude of the volcanic tremor shows a sudden further increase. At present the amplitude is within the high level.

The source of the tremor shows a gradual shift towards the SE Crater, at a depth of 2500 m above sea level. Infrasonic activity is significantly increased with a high rate of occurrence of infrasonic transients. These are located in correspondence with the SE Crater ”


Before the 1496 Spanish colonization of Tenerife, the native Guanches referred to a powerful figure living in the volcano, which carries light, power and the sun. El Pico del Teide is the modern Spanish name. [15]

Teide was a sacred mountain for the aboriginal Guanches, so it was considered a mythological mountain, as Mount Olympus was to the ancient Greeks. According to legend, Guayota (the devil) kidnapped Magec (the god of light and the sun) and imprisoned him inside the volcano, plunging the world into darkness. The Guanches asked their supreme god Achamán for clemency, so Achamán fought Guayota, freed Magec from the bowels of the mountain, and plugged the crater with Guayota. It is said that since then, Guayota has remained locked inside Teide. When going on to Teide during an eruption, it was customary for the Guanches to light bonfires to scare Guayota. Guayota is often represented as a black dog, accompanied by his host of demons (Tibicenas).

The Guanches also believed that Teide held up the sky. Many hiding places found in the mountains contain the remains of stone tools and pottery. These have been interpreted as being ritual deposits to counter the influence of evil spirits, like those made by the Berbers of Kabylie. The Guanches believed the mountain to be the place that housed the forces of evil and the most evil figure, Guayota. [16]

Guayota shares features similar to other powerful deities inhabiting volcanoes, such as the goddess Pele of Hawaiian mythology, who lives in the volcano Kīlauea and is regarded by the native Hawaiians as responsible for the eruptions of the volcano. [17] The same was true for the ancient Greeks and Romans, who believed that Vulcano and Mount Etna were chimneys of the foundry of the fire god Hephaestus (Vulcan in Latin).

In 1492, when Christopher Columbus arrived at the island of Tenerife, his crew claimed to see flames coming from the highest mountain of the island (Teide). [18]

The stratovolcanoes Teide and Pico Viejo (Old Peak, although it is in fact younger than Teide) are the most recent centres of activity on the volcanic island of Tenerife, which is the largest (2,058 km 2 or 795 sq mi) and highest (3,715 m or 12,188 ft) island in the Canaries. [19] It has a complex volcanic history. The formation of the island and the development of the current Teide volcano took place in the five stages shown in the diagram on the right.

Stage one Edit

Like the other Canary Islands, and volcanic ocean islands in general, Tenerife was built by accretion of three large shield volcanoes, which developed in a relatively short period. [20] This early shield stage volcanism formed the bulk of the emerged part of Tenerife. The shield volcanoes date back to the Miocene and early Pliocene [21] and are preserved in three isolated and deeply eroded massifs: Anaga (to the northeast), Teno (to the northwest) and Roque del Conde (to the south). [22] Each shield was apparently constructed in less than three million years, and the entire island in about eight million years. [23]

Stages two and three Edit

The initial juvenile stage was followed by a period of 2–3 million years of eruptive quiescence and erosion. This cessation of activity is typical of the Canaries La Gomera, for example, is currently at this stage. [24] After this period of quiescence, the volcanic activity became concentrated within two large edifices: the central volcano of Las Cañadas, and the Anaga massif. The Las Cañadas volcano developed over the Miocene shield volcanoes and may have reached 40 km (25 mi) in diameter and 4,500 m (14,800 ft) in height. [25]

Stage four Edit

Around 160–220 thousand years ago the summit of the Las Cañadas I volcano collapsed, [26] creating the Las Cañadas (Ucanca) caldera. [23] Later, a new stratovolcano, Las Cañadas II, formed in the vicinity of Guajara and then catastrophically collapsed. Another volcano, Las Cañadas III, formed in the Diego Hernandez sector of the caldera. All of the Las Cañadas volcanoes attained a maximum altitude similar to that of Teide (which is sometimes referred to as the Las Cañadas IV volcano).

Two theories on the formation of the 16 km × 9 km (9.9 mi × 5.6 mi) caldera exist. [27] The first states that the depression is the result of a vertical collapse of the volcano triggered by the emptying of shallow magma chambers at around sea level under the Las Cañadas volcano after large-volume explosive eruptions. [23] [28] [29] The second theory is that the caldera was formed by a series of lateral gravitational collapses similar to those described in Hawaii. [30] Evidence for the latter theory has been found in both onshore observations [31] [32] [33] and marine geology studies. [23] [34]

Stage five Edit

From around 160,000 years ago until the present day, the stratovolcanoes of Teide and Pico Viejo formed within the Las Cañadas caldera. [35]

Teide last erupted in 1909 from the El Chinyero vent, [23] on the Santiago Ridge. Historical volcanic activity on the island is associated with vents on the Santiago or northwest rift (Boca Cangrejo in 1492, Montañas Negras in 1706, [23] Narices del Teide or Chahorra in 1798, and El Chinyero in 1909) and the Cordillera Dorsal or northeast rift (Fasnia in 1704, Siete Fuentes and Arafo in 1705). The 1706 Montañas Negras eruption destroyed the town and principal port of Garachico, as well as several smaller villages. [15]

Historical activity associated with the Teide and Pico Viejo stratovolcanoes [23] occurred in 1798 from the Narices del Teide on the western flank of Pico Viejo. Eruptive material from Pico Viejo, Montaña Teide and Montaña Blanca partially fills the Las Cañadas caldera. [22] The last explosive eruption involving the central volcanic centre was from Montaña Blanca around 2000 years ago. The last eruption within the Las Cañadas caldera occurred in 1798 from the Narices del Teide or Chahorra (Teide's Nostrils) on the western flank of Pico Viejo. The eruption was predominantly strombolian in style and most of the lava was ʻaʻā. This lava is visible beside the Vilaflor–Chio road.

Christopher Columbus reported seeing "a great fire in the Orotava Valley" as he sailed past Tenerife on his voyage to discover the New World in 1492. This was interpreted as indicating that he had witnessed an eruption there. Radiometric dating of possible lavas indicates that in 1492 no eruption occurred in the Orotava Valley, but one did occur from the Boca Cangrejo vent. [23]

The last summit eruption from Teide occurred about the year 850 AD, and this eruption produced the "Lavas Negras" or "Black Lavas" that cover much of the flanks of the volcano. [23]

About 150,000 years ago, a much larger explosive eruption occurred, probably of Volcanic Explosivity Index 5. It created the Las Cañadas caldera, a large caldera at about 2,000 m above sea level, around 16 km (9.9 mi) from east to west and 9 km (5.6 mi) from north to south. At Guajara, on the south side of the structure, the internal walls rise as almost sheer cliffs from 2,100 to 2,715 m (6,890 to 8,907 ft). The 3,715 m (12,188 ft) summit of Teide itself, and its sister stratovolcano Pico Viejo (3,134 m (10,282 ft)), are both situated in the northern half of the caldera and are derived from eruptions later than this prehistoric explosion.

5. Palermo


Sicily’s bustling capital city, Palermo has a history that dates back 2,700 years. Founded by the Phoenicians, the city reached its cultural peak during its Arab occupation when Palermo was called the “city of delights” for its beautiful gardens and architecture. Today, the city is known more for its boisterous street markets than for its cultural attractions, although there are first-class museums and historic churches in Palermo well worth exploring. The top attraction is the Catacombe dei Cappuccini, an underground maze of open crypts beneath the Capuchin monastery. Some of the 8,000 mummified human remains are extraordinarily well-preserved but creepy.

Where is Mount Etna in Italy?

Europe's biggest volcano sits on the east coast of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea.

Etna covers roughly 600 square miles (1,600 square km) between the cities of Messina and Catania.

The volcano's wide base alone is about 93 miles (150km) wide.

Volcanologists believe Etna started out as a submarine volcano before slowly pushing its way upwards.

Mount Etna eruption: The volcano sits on the eastern coast of Sicily (Image: GETTY)


Because this part of Italy has been settled for millennia, scientists have a very good record of Etna's violent history.

Historians know etna has been erupting as far back as 1500 BC and geologists believe Etna has been erupting as far back as 500,000 years.

There is also evidence to show the volcano was already active more than two million years ago.

The US space agency NASA, which saw Etna erupt from space in 2000, said: "Among all the world&rsquos volcanoes, Mount Etna has the longest recorded history of eruptions, dating back to 1500 BC.

"Since then, the volcano has erupted about 200 times and has been very active in recent decades.


"In particular, 2001 was a busy year for Mount Etna, as there were 16 eruptive episodes by the time a new spate of activity began on July 13, 2001."

Some scientists speculate Etna will collapse into the Mediterranean one day, triggering a cataclysmic tsunami.

The volcano is sliding towards the sea at a slow but steady pace - about half an inch per year.

Dr John Murray from The Open University's School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, said: "The thing to watch I guess is if in 10 years time the rate of movement has doubled, that would be a warning."

  • Europe's most active volcano has erupted for the first time this year, sending a tower of bright lava into the sky.
  • Etna, located on the island of Sicily, Italy, is a stratovolcano that has had historical eruptions dating back 3,500 years.
  • Mount Etna has become an almost obligatory tourist stop among the various historical and cultural attractions in Sicily.

Italian authorities issue ash advisory after the eruption of Mount Etna. Lava flowed from Mount Etna on Monday, leaving organ streams oozing down the slopes. Pictures and clips of videos showing huge plumes of smoke rising as the lava shoots towards the sky have gone viral on various social media sites.

Here is a clip by Reuters - a video showing the Mount Etna volcano erupting, its fire and fury caught by the camera as the night sky provides a good backdrop and the silence lets you hear the scary growl of spewing lava.

Long streams of red-hot lava flow down Mount Etna as it erupts

&mdash Reuters (@Reuters) January 19, 2021

People have been quick to share the videos and pictures they too of Mt Etna in rage.

Sitting in my garden with a glass of vino watching Mount Etna blowing.

Spent the night near the summit in my motorhome last October, absolutely stunning.

&mdash Neil Swan (@tramowl) January 19, 2021

All about Mt Etna
Mount Etna is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily. The name is derived from the Greek Aitne, loosely translated as, &ldquoI burn.&rdquo With its top-most elevation touching 10,900 feet (3,320 metres), Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. Between 1669 and 1900, 26 more eruptions were reported.

As is true of most volcano sites' topography, Mount Etna's height increases from deposition during eruptions and decreases from the periodic collapse of the crater&rsquos rim. It seems to have lost about 170 feet (52 metres) in summit height between 185 and the early 21st century.

Unable to know the scientific reasons and processes of the complex plate tectonics and Earth's crust and mantle etc, the ancient Greeks wove legends around the eruptions of this ancient volcano. The Greeks in ancient times believed that it was the workshop of Hephaestus and the Cyclops or that underneath it the giant Typhon lay, making the Earth tremble when he turned.

Among all the world&rsquos volcanoes, Mount Etna has the longest recorded history of eruptions, dating back to 1500 B.C. Since then, the volcano has erupted about 200 times and has been very active in recent decades.

How damaging is Mount Etna's eruption?
Mount Etna keeps erupting slowing, continuously. The major eruption of 1971 threatened several villages with its lava flow. Several orchards and vineyards were reduced to nothing as the ash and heat destroyed the crop and plants. Mount Etnas activity was almost continuous in the decade following 1971. In the 1980s, Italian authorities tried exploding dynamite in an attempt to divert lava flows. The volcano had last erupted (major eruption) in 1986 and in 1999. Etna is a popular tourist destination attracting hikers eager to see the extraordinary lava flows glowing orange at night.

(Pic above: A snow-clad Mount Etna in the background on a calm day before the major eruption. Credit: Twitter)

(In the file photo above: A train takes tourists around the site of Mount Etna on a calm day. Image: Twitter)

Italy and its active volcanoes:
The volcanism of Italy is due to the tectonics of two continental plates, viz. the Eurasian plate and the African plate. The meeting of the two plates lies a short distance to the south, making Italy a volcanically active country with the unique distinction of housing the only active volcanoes in mainland Europe. The lava erupted by Italy's volcanoes is thought to result from the subduction and melting of one plate below another. Its three famous active volcanoes are Mt Etna, Vesuvius, and Stromboli, one of the Aeolian Islands.

Mount Vesuvius is the better-known among the three to travel and history enthusiasts. Pompeii - a thriving Roman city till about 2000 years ago - is now a preserved ancient relic that shows us what a Roman city functioned like then. It is today a hot tourist spot and lies on the southeast of Naples, at the southeastern base of Mount Vesuvius. Pompeii had in 79 AD become a victim of a huge eruption from Mount Vesuvius on 24 August 79 CE, having been buried as the volcano showered volcanic debris over the city of Pompeii, causing a thick cloud of blisteringly hot gases to hang over the city. Buildings were destroyed, sections of the population that could not escape were crushed or asphyxiated. Until its excavation in the last century, the city of Pompeii was buried beneath a blanket of ash and pumice for many centuries, which perfectly preserved the remains.

Mount Etna

Some places can be undoubtedly stated as the most enchanting of the earth, and if Mount Etna inside looks like hell, we can rightly say that, outside, it is the nearest thing to Paradise” (P. Brydone)

Mount Etna is the highest volcano in Europe, and one of most active of the world. Its impressive size ( more than 3327 meters high with an average basal diameter of 40 km) overlooks the whole region. Its spectacular eruptions and its fiery lava flows, have always aroused the interest of scientists along with the curiosity of visitors from all over the world.

Since 2013 Mount Etna is in the Unesco’s World Heritage List for its geological peculiarities of planetary relevance.

Etna eruption – ph. Paolo Barone

Its first eruptions occurred about 570,000 years ago, in the Ionian area, long before that Etna– as we know it today – was formed.

The building up of the volcanic edifice has been interrupted over the centuries by several collapses.

The current Valle del Bove, originated 9200 years ago, is a consequence of Etna collapsing phase that involves most of the recent geological history of the volcanic complex. Today the summit area consists in 4 summit craters, the Central one, the West Chasm or Bocca nuova(new mouth) , the North sub-terminal crater and the Southeast sub-terminal crater apparatus.

Crateri dell’Etna – ph. Paolo Barone

There are several evidences of the Volcano eruptions starting from the classical period among the most recent , we recall the 1669 eruption, which determined the formation of the Monti Rossi and reached Catania, and the 1928 one that reached the town of Mascali.

Etna, also called Mongibello(from the Latin word mons and the Arabian word gebel, that is mount), is one of the most monitored volcanoes in the world.

All updates on the volcanic activity are available at the INGV Catania section website.

Skyin with a unique see view – ph. L. Patti

Appreciated in summertime by hikers who want to visit the active craters of the summit areas, this volcano offers in winter the extraordinary opportunity of practicing snow sports, just a short distance from the sea.

Faggeta Timpa Rossa – ph L.Tosto

The various hiking routes climb along the nature trailsof the Etna Park, among woods and verdant orchards, up to the highest altitudes with fascinating views of lunar landscapes, ancient lava flows, caves and active fumaroles, revealing the charm of this extraordinary natural oasis.

Etna craters – ph. Ignazio Mannarano

Evocative lunar landscapes, typical of the volcanic activity, are interspersed with natural environments of rare beauty. The large rivers flowing around the Volcano, the Alcantara to the north, with its natural canyon of Alcantara Gorges, and the Simeto to the west, have modeled their paths following the lava of Etna, creating amazing natural sites.

Alcantara Gorges (Gurne) – ph. Giovanna Gagliano

In relation to the different altitudes and exposure of the slopes, Etna offers a high biodiversity with a rich Mediterranean scrub land and numerous wood species: birches with clear bark, evidence of ancient glaciations, oaks, beeches, pines, brooms of Etna and chestnut trees. In the area of Sant’Alfio we find the oldest and largest tree in Europe, the Hundred Horses Chestnut , awarded with the title of UNESCO Messenger of Peace.

Betulla Aetnensis – ph. L. Patti

So many sporting activities can be practiced on Mount Etna: downhill and cross-country skiing, ski mountaineering, trekking, rafting, paragliding, horseback riding, just to name a few.

The ski resorts of Nicolosi in Piazzale Rifugio Sapienza ( Southern side Etna) and Piano Provenzana – Linguaglossa ( Northern side ), provide good lifts leading to the red and blue downhill ski slopes, or to the ski schools and the equipment agencies rental. Those who prefer Nordic skiing can find natural routes traced by the Etna Park Authority and by the F orest serviceat Piano Vettore (Nicolosi), Piano Provenzana (Linguaglossa) and in Maletto area .

Nordic Sking on Etna – ph. L. Patti

The most requested activity is no doubt the excursion to the craters, to be done safely with the help of expert guides and with appropriate clothing. Trekking shoes or trainers and windjackets are recommended, even in the height of the summer season.

The areas near the summit can be accessed both from S outh or N orth sides of Mount Etna.
Both of them offer spectacular ways to climb to the main crater:

Escursione ai crateri dell’Etna -ph. Paolo Barone

Southern face – Nicolosi Side:

Starting point: Piazzale Rifugio Sapienza (20 km far from Nicolosi)

Ascent by cable car and/or special off-road busses + trekking ( tour organised by the Co. Funivia dell’Etna Spa)

Northern face – Linguaglossa Side

Starting point: Piano Provenzana ( 19 km far from Linguaglossa ) with special off-road busses and guided trekking (organised by Etna discovery)

Alpine Guide Etna North Piazza Attilio Castrogiovanni, 19 – Linguaglossa

Tel. (+39) 095 7774502 – Cell. (+39) 348 0125167

Starting from Piano Provenzana with 4ࡪ minibus (organised by the Co. S.T.A.R.) Tel. (+39) 347 4957091 – 346 6002176

Etna North Alpine Guide Group Piazza Attilio Castrogiovanni, 19 – Linguaglossa

Etna view from Linguaglossa – Ph Ignazio Mannarano

The area offers the opportunity to visit the lava flow caves, guided by expert speleological guides. Among the best known caves: Grotta del Gelo, where we find the southernmost glacier in Europe, Grotta dei Lamponi, Grotta dei Ladroni and Grotta Serracozzo.

Grotta dei Lamponi – Ph.Ignazio Mannarano

Grotta di Serracozzo – Ph. Ignazio Mannarano

You can trek all year round, exploring itineraries suitable for beginners as well as for experts trekkers. Etna Park not only organizes guided tours with expert staff, but also provides many nature trailswith different level of difficulty: from the easiest paths to the most challenging routes at high quote, with steep gradients and more days.
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Hiking – Ph. Ignazio Mannarano

In winter, snowshoe hikes are organized by sport companies and by Etna Park inside the usual winter trekking program. Snowshoeing on Mount Etna is a truly unique experience: what’s more exciting than seeing the incomparable spectacle of the blue Ionian sea under you, while hearing a rumbling volcano?

Snowshoing on volcano – Ph. Ignazio Mannarano

Ski mountaineering excursions on Etna, when it is covered with snow, can always be done and – above all – there is no danger of avalanches !

So many paths for mountain biking, from the easiest routes, suitable for everyone and for any age, to the most challenging ones climbing along the volcano slopes. One of the best known is the Pista Altomontana that from Piano Vettore – south of the volcano, goes up along the western side up to Ragabo Pinewood, near Piano Provenzana, to the north east.

It’s so nice to go at a donkey pace on the trails of Etna! Etnadonkey offers donkey rides, a new way to discover the wonders of this amazing mountain aboard docile, strong, and faithful donkeys. The horseback tours, on the other hand, are organized by different equestrian companies and lead by expert nature guides.

For the hopless romantics we recommend the railway tours by Circumetneatrains, departing from Catania- Stazione Borgo and arriving in Riposto.
So let’s go and discover the most beautiful wineries and the gastronomic wonders by Etna Wines Train, the most beautiful landscapes of the area that can be also be covered by bike, aboard the Two-Wheeled Train and other interesting itineraries …

In the sweet summer nights, from June to September, a visit to the Astrophysical Observatory in Ragalna, in Contrada Serra La Nave, on the southern side of Mount Etna, is unmissable for the Vault of Heaven devotees and star observers. Reservation is required.

Butterflies House – Ph. Roberta Iannì

Suitable for families, school groups but also for those who want to spend a outdoors day, Monte Serra Park in Viagrande proposes the Butterflies House, many hiking trails, synthetic ski slopes, picnic areas, bike trails and much more.

EtnalandFan Park, in Belpasso, provides an exciting experience with its Water Park wonderful attractions its Prehistoric and Theme Park. In this park, among the 20 best water parks in the world, you can also live fantastic experiences in AVR (Augmented Virtual Reality).

Adventure Park – ph. Patrizia Fundrisi

For those who want to have fun outdoors, and experience the thrill of climbing and challenging the laws of gravity, the adventure parks of Milo, Nicolosi and Ragalna are new realities in the heart of Etna Park: paths suspended among rocks or high-growing trees, with different difficulty levels, suitable for children or adults.

And finally the New Gussonea Botanical Garden, in Contrada Serra La Nave, on the southern side of Etna: more than 10 hectares full of various botanical species of Etna flora, that you can visit in the company of expert guides, only upon reservation.

Pistachio of Bronte – ph. Dip. Reg.le Agricoltura UO S8.12 Bronte

Excluding the summit areas, large areas of Etna region are dedicated to agricultural and wine production. On the north-western side, the cultivation of the green pistachio of Bronte, a PDO product, is renowned also for its countless and varied confectionery production.

Orchards (apples and pears of Etna, peaches, cherries, medlars, walnuts, chestnuts) are widespread, mostly in the areas of Ragalna, Pedara, Nicolosi and Trecastagni the excellent quality of Maletto strawberries has to be mentioned.The production of PDO olive oil is mainly located in the areas of ​​S. Maria di Licodia, Biancavilla, Belpasso and Ragalna. Do not miss the special honey and typical biscuits called skiers, which are produced in Zafferana Etnea, and the zeppole or rice crispelle, widespread everywhere.

Etna porcini mushrooms – ph. Leonardo Patti

Being a mountain place too, there is a great variety of mushrooms , one of the main ingredient of many typical dishes as the famous salsicce al ceppo (sausages prepared in the old way, on special oak wood)

Wine production is also noteworthy: the Etna Wine Route is an area that extends from the north, to Randazzo, up to Piedimonte Etneo on the north-eastern side, and continues south to Viagrande. The whole area is full of cozy wine cellars where you can taste good Etna PDO wine, accompanied by typical local products.

Cover photo: Mount Etna – ph. Giuseppe Distefano Etna Walk