For ancient Greeks it was the realm of Vulcan, the God of fire. But the gigantic shape of Mongibello (from the Latin ‘mons’ and the Arab word ‘giabal’, meaning both mountain), always inspired more trust than fear: the spit-firing Etna – UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013 – has always been considered by everybody a gentle giant in the center of the Mediterranean, fascinating people for seven thousand years. Nevertheless trying to stop the devastating lava flows which sometimes comes down the slopes of the mountain, has never been an easy task: even some Saints’ relics have been used in the past – and Saint Agatha’s veil once worked fine, they say. But during centuries lava brought more life than death. The city of Catania and all the villages around the Mount Etna for example, are mainly built with the precious basaltic stone, mined, worked and sold all over the world still today. And the soil around the volcano, thanks to its ashes, is quite fertile, giving excellent olive oil, wine, pistachio nuts, almonds, apricots and peaches. Tourism business is growing very fast too: every year more than 1.5 millions people reach the summit of Etna to admire the powerful sight of the incandescent lava melting the snow while diving into the beautiful Sicilian sea.
( 2016 )