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Visit Mount Etna
Mount Etna is on the eastern side of the island of Sicily inland from Taormina and Catania. It is one of three active volcanoes in Europe all of which are in Italy and Stromboli is also in Siclily and forms one of the Aeolian Islands. Mount Etna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Explore Mount Etna
Mount Etna is around 3000 meters high though the exact height varies from erruption to erruption. It has fairly regular eruptions though many of these are minor eruptions. In 2008 it erupted and caused several earthquakes. In 2010 it had a minor eruption with ash but no larva flow. 2012-2013 saw Catania airport shut down on a few occasions due to eruptions and in 2013 the volcano blew smoke rings into the sky! Currently (December 2018) Mount Etna is releasing clouds of ash and causing a 5 magnitude earthquake and looks set to continue with increased activity.
Mount Etna dominates the local scenery and its conical tip, sometimes covered in snow, can be seen from all around. The cone does in fact have a number of large craters due to its regular eruptions and there is a deep valley in its eastern slope called the 'Valle del Bove' or 'Valley of the Ox' which was caused by a huge landslide after a very large eruption thousands of years ago. This caused a devastating tsunami at the time.
The easiest way to visit is to take a tour from Taormina or Catania. These typically involve a four by four vehicle taking you to one of the inactive craters and for a view of the Valley of the Ox. Once at Mount Etna you may also have the opportunity to take a hike over the volcanic landscape with a guide or to take the cable car up to the top. These tours do of course rely on the volcano being inactive at the time of your visit.
Alternatively you may decide to drive to the Rifugio Sapienza where you can stay the night, have a meal, and / or take the cable car up the side of the volcano. Whichever route you choose a visit to a volcano and its desolate black larva landscape is unlike anything else you will have done (unless you have visited a different volcano) and is often sited as a highlight to a trip to Sicily.
Whilst the upper slopes of Mount Etna have a lunar-like desolation the lower slopes are full of vines and orchards as the volcanic soil is very fertile when it is not being covered in ash or ravaged by eruptions!
Places to visit nearby
The beautiful seaside town of Taormina makes a great base to visiting Mount Etna and the eastern side of Sicily.
If this has whetted your appetite for volcano gazing take a trip to Stromboli where you can take a guided hike near to the active crater or you could take a night-time boat trip around the island to watch the pyrotechnics against the night sky.
Nearby Acireale has some beautiful Baroque architecture.