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mount etna eruption with ash clouds and a red sky

As one of the most impressive geological features in Europe, Mount Etna is not to be missed. Located on the east coast of Sicily, this natural wonder attracts thousands of tourists every year to the Italian island. Be sure to add it to your bucket list for attractions to see while visiting Italy. The unique setting of this natural creation is sure to be a highlight that you can share with your friends and family on your return. So pack your camera and bookmark this helpful guide from Virtual Wanderlust, to recap your knowledge on the plane before you land.

Table of Contents:

What is Mount Etna and Why is it Famous?

Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe. Which is why its exceptional level of volcanic activities over the years has made it a famous landmark to visit when on the italian island of Sicily

The natural wonder of Mount Etna has helped play a significant role in shaping the landscape, culture and history of the Italian island and Italy in general. So its no wonder this country was named a top holiday destination for tourists in 2019

Fun facts about Europe’s largest active volcano:

  • Elevation: 3,320 m / 10,900 feet
  • Prominence: 3,329 m
  • Location: East coast of Sicily, Italy
  • Province: Metropolitan City of Catania
  • Classification: Stratovolcano
  • History of the Name: Mount Etna comes from the Greek Aitne, from Aithō, “I burn”
  • Local Nickname: Mongibello (Beautiful Mountain)

Where Can You See Mount Etna?

Being located on the east coast region of Sicily, the nearest major city is Catania, which houses a major airport for direct flights. However, as Etna started to erupt on the eve of Sunday 13th August 2023, all flights have been put on hold until Monday 14th August at 8pm. It is best to check with your operator before flying. To reach Mount Etna from the town of Catania is about 30 km (18 miles) away. There are several view points from which you can experience onlooking Mount Etna, including:

  1. Rifugio Sapienza: This is the starting point for any Mount Etna tour and a popular viewing point. Located on the southern side of the mountain, it can be reached by car or cable car as it is around 1,900 metres above sea level. The benefit of this viewpoint is that you will find a handful of coffee shops and restaurants to refresh yourself, and a souvenir shop to take memorable gifts home.
  2. Taormina: If you are someone who appreciates things from a distance, the beautiful town of Taormina offers great views of Mount Etna. As one of the closest towns to the active volcano, Taormina is located on the east coast of Sicily and is around 55 km away.

Whether you are looking for a full days adventure to reach the summit of Mount Etna, or want to appreciate the beauty from a far, there are many options to help achieve this. One being booking a guided tour. Personally, in our experience we would advice to booking a tour with a reputable company to experience the best from Mount Etna. This is because Sicily’s weather and conditions can change very quickly, and if your not a strong hiker you may need help.

There are many tour operators that offer guided tours of Mount Etna, which can include hikes, jeep tours, and other activities. It is important to remember that as an active volcano, it is important to follow safety guidelines at all time.

the top of mount etna where people are hiking

When Was the Last Time Mount Etna Erupted?

Mount Etna frequently erupts, and has done since at least 425 B.C. The last major eruption happened in February 2022, which saw a bright fluorecent, orange glow fill the skies of Sicily in dramatic scenes. However, it has been recorded that Mount Etna can erupt up to 200 times a year. It is uncertain when the volcano will erupt again but it has been said that this Italian volcano is one of the safest in the world to visit, making it the perfect Italian island to visit as a family.

How Many Active Volcanoes are in Italy?

Italy is home to three active volcanoes, and is one of the most volcanically active countries in the world. The three active volcanoes in Italy are:

  1. Mount Etna: Etna is the largest and most active volcano in Italy, located on the island of Sicily.
  2. Stromboli: This is the smallest volcanic island located off the coast of Sicily. It is known for its nearly continuous explosive eruptions which can amaze travellers who dare to visit.
  3. Mount Vesuvius: Located near the city of Naples, Mount Vesuvius is the most famous volcano in Italy. Known for its devastating eruption in 79 AD, which buried the Roman city of Pompeii.

Italy’s volcanic activity is due to its location on the boundary of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates, which creates a zone of subduction and volcanic activity. Very fascinating to learn about, and even more so when you visit the sites for yourself and have guided tours. Be sure to add them to your summer travel list this year!

Why Not Continue to Explore Italy’s Wonders?

Mount Etna is a marvel everyone can experience, but why stop there? If Sicily has captured your heart, make sure to follow Virtual Wanderlust on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. That way you can continue to be inspired by all things Italy. From things to know before travelling to Sardinia, to Italian islands you may have missed. We’ve covered it all.


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