The living mountain

Introduction to the route

The proposed route retraces Etna’s volcanological history, starting from its origin 500,000 years ago, until the most recent eruptions. You will discover how the volcano has changed position over the millennia, continuously varying in type of volcanic activity, shapes and colours, making it entirely worthy of its definition as a “Living Mountain”.
Mount Etna is characterised by practically constant eruptive activity from its summit craters, and periodic emissions of lava from its lower altitudes.
All characteristics that in the last 50 years, i.e. since the birth of the scientific discipline of Volcanology, have led Etna to become one of the most well-known and used natural laboratories in the world. These are also the reasons why Etna was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2013.
The route highlights the various areas of Etna’s system, where it is still possible to observe the greatness of past eruptions and how the shapes and colours created also influenced the customs and traditions of the people who lived on its slopes. It also highlights places of unique scenic beauty that are not well known by most of the thousands of tourists who visit the “Mountain” every year.
The presentation of the itinerary, which is full of emotion and suggestions, strives to encourage visits to the places it describes.

The 1669 eruption in Catania

The senses tell Acicastello and Acitrezza

An ever-evolving volcano

Lachea Island and the Aci Trezza Stacks


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

The first volcanic structures of Etna, between Aci Castello and Aci Trezza

Acireale and its “timpe”

The Etna viewpoint

Empedocles and his passion for Etna

The senses tell Torre del Filosofo

The senses tell Acireale

Acireale and reconstruction after the 1693 earthquake

The Jaci river

The senses tell Val Calanna

The “notches” of snow

The world’s first (almost successful) attempt to stop a lava flow: the eruption of 1991-93

Valle del Leone and the Elliptical

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

The senses tell The Red Mountains

The Red Mountains and the destructive eruption of 1669

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

The living mountain

The 2001 eruption of Etna, when the Mountain seemed to be alive

The earthquake that changed the geography of eastern Sicily in 1693

The Grand Tour in Sicily

The different names of the “Muntagna”

The eruption of 1928 that destroyed the town of Mascali

The continuous evolution of the Etna summit craters

The fault system of the “Timpe” of Acireale

Summit crater activity between 2011 and 2019

The senses tell The Etna Viewpoint

Why is Etna one of the most studied volcanoes in the world?

The senses tell The summit craters

The Elliptical, the first great volcano of Etna

Etna: a marvellous group of different types of flora

Etna, a natural laboratory where experiments can be carried out

The senses tell Valle del Leone

A fauna yet to be discovered