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A brief history of Etna

A brief history of Etna

The extraordinary volcano and its impacts on the surrounding area and community.

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Mount Etna history and surrounding communities

Rising up 3,000 metres from the sea with a diameter of nearly 45km and occupying an area of 1,570 square kilometres, Europe’s highest volcano is an impressive sight.

But numbers alone do not do Mount Etna justice. This UNESCO listed natural wonder has literally formed most of eastern Sicily and is fundamental to its particular richness and way of life.

A volcanic territory

Thanks to the structure of the volcano, the Mediterranean climate and its height the area surrounding Etna is characterised by a diverse and unique environment.

There are barren zones higher up that are composed of lava rock where it is impossible to grow crops. These alternate between bare land in summer to snowy white in winter. Other areas lower down possess rich volcanic soil and climate, and are home to vines, citrus groves and numerous species of flora and fauna typical to Sicily.

The breath-taking views, however, are the truly distinctive elements of this splendid mountain that in Ancient Grecian times was considered to be the home of the winds of the god Aeolus.

How was Etna created?

The process of the formation of Etna is believed to have begun more than 500,000 years ago with violent underwater eruptions that transformed the terrain and from which rose the land on which you can find today find the city of Catania.

Etna is an active volcano and its boundaries are constantly changing. When visiting Catania or the surrounding area make sure to view its nocturnal eruptions, a sight that is sure to be one of the most beautiful natural firework displays that you will ever see. The starry sky is tinted red, yellow and orange: the colours of citrus fruits, the fruit of the volcano.

The communities surrounding Etna

Mount Etna is surrounded by 20 local regions that spread from the east to the west and include Paternò, Milo and Bronte. Each one of these localities is dependent upon the rich fertile volcanic soils that allow the production citrus fruit, wine, pistachios and many other typical products of this marvellous island.