Etna, an ever-changing natural laboratory

Introduction to the route

The route follows a discovery of Etna’s volcanological history from its origins.
Mount Etna is characterised by practically constant eruptive activity from its summit craters, and periodic emissions of lava from its lower altitudes.
The continuous activities of the last 50 years have also led Etna to be considered one of the most important natural open-air laboratories, attracting the attention, studies and observations of thousands of volcanologists and geologists from all over the world.
In fact, you could say that Etna is where modern Volcanology was born, understood as a scientific study of the volcano and its events (explosions, lava flows, earthquakes and tremors), contextualised within interactions with the populations settled on its slopes.
The decision to include Etna in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2013 was based on these considerations.
Etna was the first volcano in the world where an attempt was made to divert a lava flow, which was heading towards the town of Zafferana Etnea in 1991-93. The same operation was then successfully repeated during the astonishing eruption of 2001, when the ash emitted from the summit craters reached the northern coasts of Africa.
A fascinating itinerary to follow and experience the discovery of the “Etna Laboratory”.

The Elliptical, the first great volcano of Etna

An ever-evolving volcano

The 1669 eruption in Catania

The Etna viewpoint

The fault system of the “Timpe” of Acireale

Humankind and the volcano: how should we behave? Volcanic risk

Etna, an ever-changing natural laboratory

The different names of the “Muntagna”

The senses tell Torre del Filosofo

The senses tell The Red Mountains

A fauna context yet to be discovered

Why did Etna form in that specific geographical position?

Empedocles and his passion for Etna

The senses tell Valle del Leone

The senses tell Acicastello and Acitrezza

Etna, wine terroir of excellence


The earthquake that changed the geography of eastern Sicily in 1693

The senses tell Acireale

The first Etnean volcanic events between Aci Castello and Aci Trezza

The eruption of 1928 that destroyed the town of Mascali

The Grand Tour in Sicily

Torre del Filosofo: at the base of the summit craters (2950 metres)

Acireale and reconstruction after the 1693 earthquake

Valle del Leone and the Elliptical

The senses tell Val Calanna

Volcanic monitoring and eruption forecasting

The “notches” of snow

The senses tell The Etna viewpoint

The Jaci river

Lachea Island and the Aci Trezza Stacks

Etna, the living mountain

Val Calanna, the first step towards a single large volcanic structure

Acireale and its “timpe”

The senses tell The Summit craters

The Red Mountains and the destructive eruption of 1669

Etna: a marvellous group of microclimates and vegetation

Summit crater activity between 2011 and 2019

The continuous evolution of the Etna summit craters

The 2001 eruption of Mount Etna, where the approach to volcanoes changed