The Mount Etna volcano is a dominant force on this island of Sicily and is a living part of the Sicilian landscape.
Etna’s sixty by forty kilometre base is the heart of the island and its three thousand three hundred metre tall shadow has given birth to this fertile Sicilian land, rich in mythology.
The volcano is different things to different people. For the ancient Greeks it was the forge of Vulcan, the god of earth and fire. It was the home of the Cyclopes who terrorised the island by throwing pieces of earth into the sky, their appetites subdued by regular animal sacrifices. It is the resting place of the giant Escalades, upon whom the god Jupiter placed the mountain. Each eruption is the motion of the giant trapped by Etna’s weight.
Occasionally we are graced by Etna’s spectacular little out bursts, whether they be full blown end of the world lava fountain eruptions or black clouds of ash that are dispersed generously throughout the whole island.
While I am safely far away from the actual volcano to be oblivious of big eruptions we can defiantly see when one is underway thanks to certain mushroom cloud formations along the horizon towards the direction of Catania.
We were recently reminded of Etna’s presence thanks to one of these quick forming clouds which resemble those of an atom bomb explosion, who thank goodness disappear quickly and who I hope are not as harmful. I like to call these little formations Etna’s flatulence, she can be quite gassy at times.
I consider myself safe from being overwhelmed by lava but, the whole island of Sicily is one of the most seismically active areas in the world, jokingly referred to as the ‘terra ballerina’ or quite literally the ‘dancing land’ and not because Sicilian’s like to waltz.
So directly or indirectly Etna keeps us on our toes.