The Red Mountains

The earthquake that changed the geography of eastern Sicily in 1693

On 11 January 1693, the whole of Sicily was devastated by a very strong earthquake. A 7.4 magnitude tremor hit the eastern coast of Sicily, between Catania and Syracuse.
The devastating earthquake went down in history as the “Val di Noto earthquake”, destroying more than 45 towns and killing at least 60,000 people.
The tremors were so powerful that they created a devastating tidal wave in the Ionian Sea, which reached Greece. It culminated in an earthquake swarm that lasted a few days: two days earlier, on the evening of 9 January 1693, another strong earthquake hit the area, bringing down some buildings and causing deaths, albeit less violent than the one on the 11th.
The earthquake on 11 January was followed by more than 1,500 aftershocks in the next two years.
In as many as 70 inhabited centres, the intensity of the earthquake was greater than or equal to the ninth degree of the modified Mercalli intensity scale. There were also collapses and serious damage in Messina and in some towns on the north-east coast, including Patti and Naso; injuries and partial collapses occurred in Palermo, Agrigento, Reggio Calabria and more serious ones in Malta; slight damage occurred in some towns in southern Calabria.
The death toll was very high: in Catania around 16,000 people died out of a population of 20,000 residents; in Ragusa around 5,000 out of 9,000; in Lentini 4,000 out of 10,000; in Syracuse 4,000 out of 15,000, and in Militello 3,000 out of 10,000. In addition to being the most intense earthquake in Italy’s history, these numbers made it the second most disastrous earthquake on the peninsula, preceded only by the 1908 earthquake in the Strait of Messina (7.2 magnitude, but more than 120,000 deaths) and the 23rd most disastrous earthquake of all time (the Strait is in 12th place).
The only “positive” aspect of the 1693 earthquake was the reconstruction that followed. In fact, the architectural style used to rebuild the centres destroyed by that earthquake in the 18th century, Sicilian Baroque, developed. If today Noto, Ragusa, Catania, Syracuse and many other large and small towns in south-eastern Sicily boast fabulous artistic heritage, they owe it to the reconstruction, which set up the portents of Late Baroque art.

The senses tell Acicastello and Acitrezza

The eruption of 1928 that destroyed the town of Mascali

The senses tell Acireale

Volcanic monitoring and eruption forecasting

Valle del Leone and the Elliptical

Acireale and reconstruction after the 1693 earthquake

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

The continuous evolution of the Etna summit craters

Etna: a marvellous group of microclimates and vegetation

A fauna context yet to be discovered

Acireale and its “timpe”

The first Etnean volcanic events between Aci Castello and Aci Trezza

Etna, wine terroir of excellence

The Red Mountains and the destructive eruption of 1669

The Elliptical, the first great volcano of Etna

The earthquake that changed the geography of eastern Sicily in 1693

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

Lachea Island and the Aci Trezza Stacks

The Etna viewpoint

Etna, the living mountain

The senses tell The Summit craters

Summit crater activity between 2011 and 2019

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

The “notches” of snow

The senses tell Val Calanna

The different names of the “Muntagna”

The senses tell The Red Mountains

Etna, an ever-changing natural laboratory

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

The senses tell Valle del Leone

The senses tell The Etna viewpoint

The fault system of the “Timpe” of Acireale

An ever-evolving volcano

The senses tell Torre del Filosofo

The Jaci river

Why did Etna form in that specific geographical position?


The 1669 eruption in Catania

The Grand Tour in Sicily

Empedocles and his passion for Etna