The “Column of the Sky” for Pindar, the “Forge of Hephaestus” in classical mythology: simply “A Muntagna” (The Mountain) for those who do live it, and sometimes suffer its wrath. Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe, has inspired myths and legends and attracts a multitude of visitors in any season and at any time of the year, attracted by its restless and disturbing charm, between earthly and divine.
But “A Muntagna” is, at the same time, a place for unique naturalistic trails, to experience a contact with the visceral nature because right there, from the bowels of the earth, derives its destructive force. Yet, despite repeated eruptions over the years have resulted in real disasters, sometimes razing entire villages, people who live on the slopes of Etna have never “cursed” to it. Etna inspires such respect reserved only to the Gods.
The devotion to the volcano is told in a folk tale: there was a farmer who lived in a house in an area that became subject to ongoing lava during an eruption. Before running away together with his belongings, he set the table, put some bread seasoned with oil, wine and cheese, and went away leaving behind the open door. This sort of ritual was prepared to welcome into his home the volcano.
Anyway, the same Etna “destroys and creates“, in the sense that the whole economy of the Etna area revolves around it; incoming tourism covers for the most the needs of the villages around the Etna Park. According to stats collected by Sicily Holiday Finder, every year the area around Etna, from Taormina to Catania, results to be one of the favorite destinations for those who choose Sicily for holidays.
It will be easy then to find guides and itineraries to venture among the magic paths of Etna. Particularly striking is the slope on the “Donkey’s Back“, (Schiena dell’Asino), which comes to the “Valle del Bove” (Valley of the Ox): an impressive lava basin dating back to approximately 64,000 years ago, but nourished by lava flows until 1993. Lunar landscape is interwoven with pearls of rare beauty, like the hawks that sometimes one can see hovering in the air and suddenly disappearing like a lightning. The experience is certainly not recommended for those suffering from vertigo: we are at 2600 meters above sea level, but the emotions that this offers is truly limitless!