Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. Its height, repeatedly modified by eruptions, is now around 3350 m above sea level. The vulcano was born from submarine eruptions, that formed in the Quaternary Period the Plain of Catania, prior occupied by a gulf. About 64,000 years ago, tremendous explosions emptied the magmatic chamber of volcanoes Trifoglietto I and II. The respective craters collapsed, generating the charming Valle del Bove a huge volcanic basin, large over 5 km.
The volcanic activity, since antiquity, have been numerous and have created different environments. From lunar landscapes near the summit craters, to the green forests in lower altitudes. For this reason the eruptions of Etna are classified in “ancient eruptions” and “modern eruptions”. The outer structure of the volcano, as it appears to our eyes, has four craters, the Central Crater (the most ancient), Bocca Nuova (1968), North-East Crater (1911) and finally the Southeast Crater (1971).
Mount Etna has many lava caves, these are formed by tunnels of lava. The temperature of the lava flowing through these tunnels continues to be extremely high and when the flow runs out, the lava tunnel empties creating lava caves. In ancient times, men used these caves as burial sites and sacred places. Later they were used as places were to store ice and snow collected during the winter.
The vegetation on the volcano varies according to altitude. At the foot of the volcano we find orange trees, mandarins, lemons, olives, agaves, prickly pears, eucalyptus, palm trees, pine trees and vines, from which we produce excellent wine. Above 500m, we find plantations of hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios. If we move higher up we find oaks, beeches, birches, pines and the typical Etna gorse. One of the main attractions of this area is the birch tree that stand out due to its white trunk that contrasts with the blue sky and the black lava.
Once you pass 2100m begins the semi-desert area where the Spino Santo, a small prickly bush, grows. Climbing further up we find the so-called volcanic deserts. Mount Etna is home to many small mammals (foxes, wild cats, weasels, martens), birds (hawks, woodpeckers, hoopoes) and reptiles.
Between myth and legend, between nature and eruptions, this majestic volcano awaits you to be explored!