THE HIGHEST ACTIVE VOLCANO IN EUROPE
Etna (Mungibeddu or ‘a Muntagna in Sicilian) is a volcanic complex originated in Sicily and still active in the Quaternary. With the different eruptions connected with it has changed the landscape incessantly, often threatening the different human communities that over the millennia have settled around it. Its surface is characterized by a rich variety of environments that alternates cityscapes, dense forests that conserve different plant species endemic to desolate areas covered in volcanic rock and snow periodically subject to the highest shares.
Etna is located west of the east coast of Sicily, within the territory of the Province of Catania and is crossed by the 15th meridian east, from which it takes its name.
Since this is a stratovolcano, its height varies over time because of its eruptions which determine the raising or lowering. So in 2011 was up to 3,340 m. s.l.m., in 2010 3.350 m., 3,274 m. in 1900, 3,326 m. in 1950 and 3,269 m. in 1942. It occupies an area of 1,570 km², its diameter is about 45 km and its perimeter is 65 km away. Its dimensions place it among the largest in the world and, from a geological standpoint, the highest in the European continent.
The name Etna could date back to the pronunciation of the name of the ancient greek itacista Aitna (Aἴτνα-ας), a name that was also attributed to the city of Catania and Inessa, which derives from the Greek word aitho (burning) or from the Phoenician word attano (furnace). The Etna was known in Roman times as Aetna. The Arabs referred to it as the mountain Jabal al-Jabal or Burkan Atma Ṣiqilliyya (“volcano” or “mountain of Sicily”); This name was later changed into Mons Gibel ie: the mountain twice (from the Latin mons “monte” and the Arabic Jebel (جبل) “upstream”) to indicate its own majesty. The term Mongibello remained in common use almost from the very recently (still some elderly called the Etna in this way.) According to another theory, the name derives from Mongibello Mulciber (here ignem mulcet), one of the epithets with which he was called, the Latins, the god Vulcan, which served to calm the destructive force of Etna. The populations of Etna, to indicate the Etna, sometimes use the slang term ‘to muntagna simply meaning mountain par excellence.
Today the name Mongibello indicates the top of Etna; the area of the two central craters and craters south-east and north-east.
The regular eruptions of the mountain, sometimes dramatic, have made it a subject of great interest in classical mythology and folk beliefs that have tried to explain the behavior of the volcano through the various gods and giants of Roman and Greek legends.