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Mount Etna

Know the Etna volcano, discover its territory and its Natural Park. Let yourself be amazed by the beauty of its lunar landscape, its view of the sea, its volcanic activity, the eruptions. Seeing Mount Etna erupting and the summit craters is an experience not to be missed if you are visiting Sicily

Mount Etna volcano in Sicily

Volcanoes are places of particular interest, rough and lunar landscapes and fiery scenarios that arouse, together, fear and curiosity. Mt Etna stand-up more than others, for its size and for its almost incessant activity.

It is visible from land and sea, and well known for its long history that crossed with the ancient Mediterranean civilisations. Located in Sicily near Catania. Age: about 550.000 years. Height: about 3.326 mt. Type of volcano: shield.

Discover the highest volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. It is a paradise for hikes and excursions in contact with nature. The volcano has a conical shape covering an area of 1200 km2. Its altitude has frequently varied according to eruptions, lava flows and mud.

Its steep slopes are interrupted by several eruptive mouths. There are dozens of craters on its southern and western flanks, as well as a caldera, the Valle del Bove, facing east. Excursions are also possible in winter, there are 2 ski resorts that operate thanks to snowfall from December to April.

 

Etna activity

Mount Etna is an active volcano in constant activity, which alternates periods of rest and periods of eruption. The Etna volcano always appears dominated by a plume of smoke, which comes out by the summit craters.

Unlike Stromboli, which is in constant activity, and Vesuvius, which alternates periods of rest and periods of paroxysmal activity, the Etna volcano generally begins its activity with a period of degassing, earthquakes and emission of volcanic sand. Sometimes followed by a relatively fluid lava emission.

Sometimes there are periods of strombolian activity or the manifestation of a lateral rash. Etna is one of the rare volcanoes in the world where it is possible to observe the birth of new eruptive mouths. There are no less than 300 lateral craters et 250 lava tubes.

Its explosive and effusive activity attracts crowds of visitors from all over the world, due to its spectacular nature. Etna eruptions can destroy homes and roads. But they are generally not dangerous for people, with the exception of fortuitous cases or recklessness.

 

Climbing Mount Etna in Sicily
 

We organize excursions all year round. Our excursions are led by official Alpine Volcanologist Guides, in an active volcanic environment, to discover the Volcanic Park. Discover our excursions to live a moment full of emotion and strong sensations on the highest volcano in Europe.

Etna is a volcano that adapts to all levels, perfect to visit with the family with simple and attractive routes, also excellent for those looking for definitely more demanding hikes and more intense adventures.  The summit area is a magnificent desert of pyroclastic ashes, sulfur and fumaroles. Very interesting to visit while erupting, but also in winter with hiking skis, snowshoes or snowboard.

The function of the Park is to protect a unique natural environment and to promote the environmentally sound development of local communities. The Park of Volcano Etna is an attraction for all type of nature-lovers, hikers and for gourmand with local food specialities and lovely wine.

 

Visiting Mount Etna in Sicily
 

Its frequent eruptions throughout history have changed the surrounding landscape. Threatening the people who settled around him. When the Etna volcanic structure did not exist, the eruptions and effusive activity took place within a gulf that stretched in time between Peloritani and Iblei Mountains.

Everything changes over time; Sicily is in fact crushed by the African plate that has been moving for many millions of years to the European one. This convergence movement and the accumulation of lava and debris have, over time, shaped the current volcanic structure of Etna.

The Etna tour should start along the south-eastern coast of Sicily, between Aci Castello and Acitrezza. Here you can see a series of rocks and islets, called the Islands of the Cyclops, partly formed by volcanic rocks much older than those of the Etna.

In fact the first volcanic activity of Etna started underwater, afterwards the geological events and the erosion have transformed them into evocative decorations of the landscape.

These islets, according to Greek mythology, would be huge blocks launched by the infuriated Cyclops Polyphemus to the ship of Ulysses, guilty of having blinded him with his only eye placed in the middle of the forehead.

Other volcanoes have erupted lava on the mainland, still distant from where Etna will later rise. Their remains are found in the two reliefs on which Motta S. Anastasia and Paternò are established. It is bounded to the west by the river Simeto, to the north and east by the river Alcantara and by the coast of the Ionian Sea.

The structure of the volcano consists of an irregular base formed by the products of the most ancient eruptions and a steep summit cone, called Mongibello. This name derives from gebel, a common Arabic term in the Sicilian toponymy, which means mountain.

In the summit area of the Mongibello there are four active craters called "Bocca Nuova"(1968), "Voragine", "Cratere di Nord-Est" (1911) and "Cratere di Sud-Est"(1971).

At least one of these is almost always active, with emissions of lava or large fumaroles of gas and ash. The accumulation of new volcanic products, while  erupting and the frequent landslides to which the craters are subject, constantly change the shape and height of the summit of Mount Etna.

The volcano undergoes cyclical inflation over time (swelling), followed by deflation. The Sicilian volcano, Etna glides towards the sea, according to a study published among others by the National Institute of Geophysics of Catania.

 

The relationship between Etna and Man
 

The volcano, apparently so hostile to settlements, has always offered a variety of resources that seem designed specifically for human needs since prehistoric times. Etna makes its entry into the literature thanks to the Greeks with the eruption of 475 BC.

Pindaro is described it in the mythical image of Typhoeus or Typhon. A giant who wandered in the volcanic areas, which, imprisoned by Zeus under the weight of the volcano, spat fire from his eyes and nostrils.

With time, the myths and legends ended, but the eruptions continued to leave their traces and to modify the volcano. But if you are wondering why do people live close to active volcanoes, you should know that the main reason is the rich volcanic soil.

The region has been intensively cultivated for centuries. The land is planted with vines, vegetables and flowers. Every square foot of this rich soil is used.

Ulysse et Polyphème by Jacob Jordaens
Ulysse et Polyphème by Jacob Jordaens

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