Mount Etna is one of the world’s largest and most active volcanoes and dominates much of the landscape of North Eastern Sicily.
Covered in cloud for long periods its smoking summit is also prone to frequent eruptions which spews lava and ash across its vast slopes.
Over the past 2,000 years there have been scores of eruptions some of which have engulfed or threatened to engulf villages, settlements and towns on its slopes .In the 1300s the lava flows reached the sea and in the late 17th century they reached the city of Catania.
Etna eruptions can be disastrously spectacular.They have created a surreal lava encrusted landscape which can explode into colour in spring as wildflowers bloom in the rich volcanic soil.
The soil here has more recently enriched the wine industry here . Etna wines are reknowned for their complexity and quality.
Etna remains a big tourist draw. It’s possible to drive around the volcano and also take an historic railway which circumnavigates the mountain too although in the 1970s lava flows reached its tracks.
A cable car , destroyed by an eruption in the 1990s but since re built, can take visitors closer to the summit although its often shrouded in dense cloud . For the more adventurous four wheel drive excursions and treks are also available.