Romans and mount Etna

Mount Etna is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily – near Catania. Etna stands on the convergent plate margin between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate. Indeed it is the tallest active volcano in Europe and about 3329 meter high. Etna is also largest active volcano in Italy – much higher and larger than Vesuvius. Even though there are small eruptions nearly every year, Etna is not very vicious volcano. When it erupts it happens slowly and there are no big deadly explodes. Also hot lava is flowing very slowly and therefore it is not threat for humans – maybe sometimes for property. Vesuvius is different and when it erupts, it happens seldom and it usually means serious threat for all living nearby. Of course the good part of volcano is the fertile land that becomes from lava flows. Therefore vegetables, vineyards and fruit threes prosper near Etna.

Once Etna was under sea level. But after hundreds of thousands years it has rose from sea and now stands as solid land in Sicily. It has created everything around it. So in eastern Sicily Etna means everything and one can see that in Catania. Everywhere there are basalt-stone blocks which have been used for foundation and walls of roads, buildings, churches and castles. Volcanic lava-stone is everywhere. So in away Etna has been the blessing for it’s surroundings.

During centuries Etna has been standing on Sicily and seen all battles and armies marching across Sicily. First Creek settlements and the era of big Creek city Syracuse. Then came Carthagians and mount Etna witnessed many battles between Creek cities and Carthage. It is even said that once eruption saved Syracuse from Cathagian siege. Then came Romans and took Sicily. Catania became an important city for Romans. Year 122 BC happened a violent eruption which damaged city of Catania seriously. Because of that Rome gave freedom to Catania for taxes even up to 10 years.

On 11 March 1669 the most violent eruption of Etna took place and produced lava flows that went towards south even to sea shore. Thus filling the harbour of Catania.

Here Etna from the sea near Catania.

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Now we stand in harbor of Catania.

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Now we are on top of the mountain. The highest point is volcano crater and has yellow sulphur around it.

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Yes – we are now some 3000 meter up and people are traveling around craters. You noticed – craters are not really deep and dangerous looking red caves…

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Here is one crater. Around year 2002 there was an eruption here.

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Here we can see dimensions – the top of Etna is really large from surface area.

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So we stand here some 3000 meter from sea level. Far away down is city of Catania.

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People are traveling by guides or some alone around craters.

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View towards Catania…

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Here we are together with white clouds. In the morning there seem to be no clouds. But daytime there seem to show up always clouds.

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Again view from 300 meters towards south-east valley of Catania.

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If one wants to pay small buses are driving people from funicular to the crater top. Of course one can walk but it is a long journey upwards – and very dusty.

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One can see on left hand side Catania and the shore of the sea – very far away. I guess it is always little misty at this time of year.

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Here is lava flow destruction from past years – this time it just stopped before one cottage. Lava flow as coming to northwards.

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Here an example how lava-stone looks when it has traveled in tunnel – formed by earlier cooled lava-flow.

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Small buses are driving people from funicular to top of the craters.