The volcano Etna
<<This terrible place [...] offers a magnificent and extraordinary spectacle. I’s almost impossible to find the words to express it [...]. The immense areas of lava, the hills which it has amassed and created during its slow flow [...] the rocks of pozzolana rich in robust vegetation, lush and rich and colourful, varied in shape, perfumed, all of this is offered to the spectator, the extraordinary contrast between all that is sad in this world and at the same time the most enjoyable, the most frightening and fascinating [...] I was enchanted, so enthralled that I abandoned myself to strange thoughts and delirious discourse>> (Jean Houel, Voyage in Sicilie).
Etna is the highest volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. When observing the mountain you’ll always see it smoking and covered in various colours. Only by visiting Etna can you have an idea of its great charm and understand why it has always been a place of myth, poetry and science: the place where Polyphemus and the god Hephaestus lived; Etna of the scholars, immortalised in the paintings by the Grand Tour travellers, and that of those who study it and its phenomenon today.
Finally, Etna the mixed blessing of the towns on its slopes, at the same time feared and loved, life and death: its soul is made fertile by the substances that can and have indeed many times destroyed it. The last devastating eruption dates back to 1669 from an opening just north of the inhabited town of Nicolosi. After totally destroying the towns of Belpasso, Mompilieri, Mascalucia, Camporotondo, S.Pietro Clarenza, Misterbianco and San Giovanni Galermo, within one month it reached Catania, radically changing the urban setting of the city: Castello Ursino, perched on a rock in the sea, was surrounded by lava and it moved the coastal boundary by about 500 metres.
Today, Mount Etna is a Unesco Heritage site and offers its visitors always new and fascinating landscapes; woods, desolate valleys, caves and snow topped peaks. But Etna is also the products which acquire their uniqueness from the volcano itself, such as the oil and wine from the cellars which you can find on its slopes.