Virgil believed that the cyclopes lived in a mountain on the island of Sicily. And this mountain is the world famous mount Etna volcano. In the myths, it was said that the goddess Athena, in a battle between the gods and the giants, crushed the immortal Enceladus by the mountain. From time to time he tries to free himself – and then another eruption takes place. It is also believed that the volcano was chosen by the gods to imprison the titans who decided to overthrow the inhabitants of Olympus. For this reason Italians treat their natural treasure with reverence and some apprehension. In some myths it is mentioned that in the mouth of the volcano is the forge of Hephaestus.
Where is Etna volcano located? Etna or Mongibello is the highest and most active volcano in Europe. Its height cannot be indicated precisely, as it varies as a result of eruptions and slaggy blowouts, but anyway it is over 3 thousand meters. Etna occupies 1,250 square kilometers. What country is Etna volcano in? For those who do not know where the largest volcano in Europe is located, it is worth noting that it is located on the territory of Italy, but is not able to bring tangible harm to the state, because it is separated from its main part by the sea. Sicilians, on the other hand, can be called a unique people who have learned how to live close to the fiery host of the island, whose geographical coordinates are 37° 45′ 18″ north latitude and 14° 59′ 43″ east longitude. Latitude and longitude indicate the highest point of the stratovolcano, although it has far more than one crater. Approximately every two to three months, one of the craters spews lava, which often reaches small settlements at the foot of Etna. The absolute height in meters is 3329, but this value changes over time due to the formation of layers of volcanic emissions. So, about a century and a half ago Etna was higher by 21 meters. The area of this giant is 1,250 square kilometers, it surpasses Vesuvius, so it is famous throughout Europe.
The main mass of volcanologists is in love with this place and considers it one of the most unique and inexplicable phenomena of natural origin. And the whole point is that its eruptions are not subject to any logical, chemical or physical explanation. What type of volcano is mount Etna? To be more precise, it is certainly possible to explain the processes inside the volcano, but attributing it to at least one of the existing types is impossible.
However, the main characteristic of Etna is its layered structure, which is why it is called a stratovolcano. It was formed at the junction of two tectonic plates, which due to shear let the flow of lava to the surface. The shape of the volcano is conical as it was formed year after year from ash, solidified lava and tephra. According to rough estimates Etna appeared 500,000 years ago and during that time the world has seen 200 Etna volcano eruptions. And to this day it is still in the active stage, which is why it causes fears among the inhabitants of the country.
That is why Etna attracts volcanologists from all over the world, forcing these scientists to break their heads in search of the solution of such a complicated «character».
The main feature of Etna is that it is the only volcano in the world whose eruptions present a terrifying picture and cause serious destruction. Just imagine, tons of red-hot lava inexorably approaching the surface, spilling, turning everything in its path into ash. This is accompanied by deafening explosions and huge clouds of ash, escaping under the enormous pressure of the gases. You will not find such a fantastic action anywhere else! Moreover, the volcano has several craters, through which at different times or simultaneously occurs «discharge». But when the monster sleeps, wrapped in soft blankets of fluffy clouds, and life goes on around dimensionally and imposingly in the Italian style, you can enjoy the divine view, tasting all the delights of peace on the island of Sicily forever. This is why the local area is so popular with many tourists. This makes them one of the paradises, which has no analogs.
By the way, about 600 thousand years ago on the site of the present mt Etna volcano was a regular sea gulf, where travelers stopped after a long journey across the seas, to replenish the stocks of water and provisions. But that is how the gods decided that as a result of underground tremors and eruptions a huge mountain now towers over the surface of the island, which from time to time reminds all the islanders and visitors about who the real owner of this place is.
The scientific investigations made it possible to paint all the horrors of life near the volcano in tourist brochures, but in fact it is not so terrible. In any case, in the description of the terrible eruption in 1667, when it was allegedly killed more than 20 000 people and lava demolished the city walls of Catania, somehow does not mention that Catania reached the lava only a month after the Etna volcano eruption, and witnesses do not confirm the human casualties. So the reputation of Etna as a killer volcano is greatly exaggerated, and for all time there are only 77 documented victims of its eruption. Of course, living in the immediate vicinity of the volcano is associated with certain risks, but it also has its advantages. It is thanks to the volcano and the substances it spews that the soil on the slopes of the mountain and at its foot is so fertile. On the slopes of Etna grows a unique vine, producing black grapes. It is from this that the famous wine is made, which can be tasted in Sicilian restaurants. The amazing taste of this wine, according to experts, is due to the presence of volcanic ash and decay products of volcanic gases in the soil. By the way, the last eruption of the volcano was 17th of February 2021. Fortunately, it did not threaten the people’s lives.
Every Etna eruption is not just a natural phenomenon of interest to scientists, it is a kind of show that attracts many journalists and tourists to Sicily. The former get dramatic and colorful reports on the eruptions, the latter see for themselves that the devastation and misery caused by the phenomenon are not as great as the media report.Etna is also of interest to travelers in its tranquil state. The unique area around the mountain has been declared a natural biosphere reserve. To make the ascent and even to get to the central crater can be done in different ways, including on your own. But in this case, it is recommended to take a trusted local guide, which was created many years ago and got its final version in 2020.
The eastern route starts from the village of Zafferana and leads to Rifugio Sapienza. The northern route goes through the small towns of Piedimonte Etneo and Linguaglossa and leads to the base of Piano-Provenzano. It runs along a picturesque slope overgrown with a variety of mountain flowers. The southern slope is covered with frozen lava, the scenery is not as picturesque, but you can see in detail what frozen lava looks like.
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