If you are planning a trip to Sicily, an excursion to the top of Mount Etna is a must like Climbing Mount Etna. You cannot miss this legendary volcano, which, over the centuries, has become the iconic symbol of the island. Rising to a height of 3,324 m above sea level, and covering an area of over 1,200 km², Etna is the highest volcano in Europe.
It is one of the few remaining active volcanoes in Europe, and sometimes raises concerns and questions among scientists.
Etna erupted hundreds of times in the twentieth century, making it one of the most frequently erupting volcanoes in the world. It is classed by volcanologists as one of the “volcanoes of the decade”. Should we fear Mount Etna’s eruptions ?
Where is Etna ?
Situated on the east coast of Sicily, Etna rises, majestically to dominate the island. It is located to the north of the Province of Catania.
It overlooks the Ionian Sea. Its height means it is visible from almost the entire east coast of Sicily. Catania offers a breathtaking view of Etna, but so do Syracuse and Taormina.
It naturally fertilises the soil all around it, and enriches the island with a variety of natural resources: Sicilian fruits and vegetables enjoyed an international reputation, and the luxuriant vegetation contributes to the beauty of the island’s landscapes.
Volcano of the decade
Etna is listed by volcanologists as one of the “volcanoes of the decade” due to its vigorous eruptive activity. This category includes sixteen volcanoes, which, according to experts, are of significant interest in terms of their history of eruptions.
The designation “volcanoes of the decade” was awarded within the framework of a project initiated by the United Nations, called the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.
This program was established with the aim of creating an international team of experts : the objective of the studies carried out was to reduce the risks associated with volcanoes, especially those with a high risk to humans.
The volcanoes studied, therefore, are those with a high level of eruptive activity and are located near densely populated areas, as is Etna.
The list of volcanoes of the decade includes world-famous volcanoes such as Vesuvius, Mount Unzen in Japan, Santorini in Greece and others.
Here, some of excursions you should do :
- Mount Etna Summit Tour : click here
- Etna Tour Helicopter : click here
- Excursion Etna North : click here
A turbulent history of eruptions
Etna is listed as having erupted hundreds of times in the twentieth century. The 1910 eruption was one of the most impressive events of the century : the eruption began at an altitude of 2,000 m and the lava flows travelled a total of 10 km. 1928 was a black year in the history of Etna’s eruptions : that year, the village of Mascali was destroyed by the extremely fluid lava flows emanating from the cracks.
A railway line was completely destroyed. The emission of the lava flows lasted for 18 days in total. In 1950, one of the largest eruptions of the twentieth century took place; cultivated land and isolated houses were totally destroyed. In 1981, a dangerous and extremely large eruption blocked roads and railways; it was one of the most significant eruptions in this area since the beginning of the twentieth century.
Some precautions you should take
Rest assured, despite these episodes of activity, you run very little risk of suffering collateral damage from a possible eruption. On the other hand, like any expedition towards the summit of a mountain, some basic precautions are necessary.
- You are heading for a mountain top at a high elevation, and the temperature will be radically different from that at the coast. You will need warm and windproof garments, otherwise you may really suffer from the cold.
- Don’t forget to bring walking shoes, high-topped walking boots if possible, to wear on your hike. There are two routes, the “grande”, or big one which takes you almost to the crater in a 4x4, and the “petite” or small one which drops you off further away, so that you can admire the view. If you want to walk, bring mountain equipment.
- Don’t hesitate to delegate the organisation of your visit to an external company, they will look after you extremely efficiently, and you won’t have to worry about anything. This is by far the best way to understand Etna and its activity, and not to miss anything.