Etna, today declared Unesco Heritage as one of the most “emblematic and active volcanoes in the world”, with its 3340 m height s.l.m. it is also the highest volcano in Europe. Its craters, lava flows, lava caves and the transformations it has undergone over time are the aspects that most interest the research. In particular, the periodically repeated eruptions fascinate tourists and scholars, making the world famous for its spectacular flaming lava languages.
Located on the eastern side of Sicily, between the courses of the rivers Alcantara and Simeto, Etna dominates with its grandeur throughout the province of Catania.
With its 135 km perimeter and 3340 m height s.l.m., it is the result of a multiplicity of geological events that have occurred over many tens of thousands of years. Its first eruptive manifestations date back to the middle-lower Pleistocene period (570.000 / 600.000 years ago). The current volcanic building, whose height undergoes constant variations, due to the accumulation of materials or collapses of the walls, has been built on the old volcanoes of Trifoglietto (whose collapse has generated the crater pit of the Valle del Bove), and Mongibello (from the Arabic Gebel to indicate the “mountain of the mountains”), still in activity.
The summit of the volcano consists of the central crater (Voragine and Bocca Nuova), the crater of the Northeast (1911) and the crater of the Sud-Est (1971).
In addition to the summit craters, the Montagnola and the Monti Silvestri are of particular interest.
La Montagnola is one of the most imposing cones of Etna: it rises to the south of the Central Crater, on the southern slope where it was planted at an altitude of 2,500 m following the eruption of 1763.
The Silvestri Mountains were formed following the eruption of 1892 and between the Monte Silvestri Superiore and the Inferiore passes the road that leads from Zafferana and Nicolosi to the square of Rifugio Sapienza and the cableway systems, destination for all visitors who are going to start climbing the volcano.
At 2900 m altitude is the famous Torre del Filosofo, a building named in memory of Empedocles (492 BC – about 430 BC), the philosopher of Agrigento who climbed the volcano to study its phenomena and his home. Legend has it that the philosopher died falling into the mouth of the volcano, but does not make clear whether this happened accidentally or voluntarily.
It is thought that the Tower of the Philosopher was built by the emperor Hadrian, who between 117 and 138 AD. He climbed several times on Etna, fascinated by its majesty and the breadth of view enjoyed from this strategic observation point on the province of Catania.
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