A proud and mighty volcano rises above eastern Sicily, Mount Etna. It is the largest volcano in Europe and the undisputed ruler of this fascinating Mediterranean island. Despite the all pervasive presence of this volcano, the nearby hills and surroundings of Mount Etna have been inhabited by man for many thousands of years.
The journey to Etnaís summit passes through various vegetation and climate zones. Most of the regionís rain falls during the colder months, as summer time in Sicily is usually extremely hot and dry. At the higher altitudes of Mongibello, as the local people refer to their volcano, there is snow right up until early summer when, as the temperature begins to rise, the lower slopes are transformed into blossoming and fertile meadows.
The snow on the summit region of Etna does not hide the fact that deep inside the volcano is an unimaginable natural furnace. New lava masses begin to pour out that have a temperature of around 1,000ļ C (1,832ļ F).
Nineteen hundred twenty-seven metres above sea level is the Rifugio Sapienza, a place where it is possible to take a closer look at the volcano. In recent years, it has been expanded to cater for the needs of an increasing number of tourists.
It is surprising that this captivating mountain world and its alpine scenery are located in the most southerly region of Italy. However, things here can change at great speed, although it is usually a change in the weather rather than any serious volcanic activity!
Mount Etna is unique in Europe, not only due to its volcanic activity and scenery but because it combines myth with historical and archaeological fact and is therefore one of the most truly magical places on Earth.