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 Red Mountains and the destructive eruption of 1669

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

The “notches” of snow

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

The senses tell Acicastello and Acitrezza

The earthquake that changed the geography of eastern Sicily in 1693

Volcanic monitoring and eruption forecasting

The Elliptical, the first great volcano of Etna

The continuous evolution of the Etna summit craters

Acireale and reconstruction after the 1693 earthquake

Etna, the living mountain

The Jaci river

The senses tell The Red Mountains

Valle del Leone and the Elliptical


The senses tell Torre del Filosofo

The different names of the “Muntagna”

The senses tell The Etna viewpoint

The Etna viewpoint

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

The senses tell The Summit craters

The senses tell Valle del Leone

Lachea Island and the Aci Trezza Stacks

The first Etnean volcanic events between Aci Castello and Aci Trezza

Summit crater activity between 2011 and 2019

The senses tell Val Calanna

Etna: a marvellous group of microclimates and vegetation

The senses tell Acireale

Etna, wine terroir of excellence

Empedocles and his passion for Etna

Why did Etna form in that specific geographical position?

A fauna context yet to be discovered

The 1669 eruption in Catania

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

Etna, an ever-changing natural laboratory

The fault system of the “Timpe” of Acireale

The Grand Tour in Sicily

The eruption of 1928 that destroyed the town of Mascali

Acireale and its “timpe”

An ever-evolving volcano