The name of this ancient, forbidding incandescent mountain comes from the Greek "Aitho", which means "to burn". The Arabs spoke of Etna as "the highest mountain of Sicily" while the Greek poet Pindar called it a "pillar of the sky". Etna's activities began six hundred thousand years ago and it is still active.
Its propensity to erupt has stimulated public imagination over the centuries, giving rise to numerous myths and legends. It is said that the storm giant Typhoon, known for his bouts of violent temper was imprisoned within the volcano and was responsible for all its eruptions and "heated" activity. It was also said that a Cyclops used the inside of Etna as the forge of Zeus, and that the realm of Hades and the underworld was just below.
Beyond the legends, Etna remains Europe's highest active volcano, on the eastern side of the Sicily, dominating the landscape with its height, power and lava flows. In 1614, Etna began a "slow eruption" which lasted for ten years. The volcano's most destructive eruption, remembered to this day, was in 1669, with a series of earthquakes and eruptions reaching down into the heart of Catania, causing widespread destruction.
Despite its active characteristics, and continual burning, there is always a blanket of snow on Etna, and it is a well known resort for winter sports. Four active craters lie at the top of Etna. This mount of extremes, has a rich variety of flora and fauna. In 1987 it became a nature park, stretching from the summit to the base.
Here, on Etna's slopes, the splendour of nature's changing colours throughout the seasons render this volcano a fascinating, awe inspiring destination in which visitors can come close, in relative safety, to the incredible power and beauty of nature.