Mount Etna (/ˈɛtnə/; Italian: Etna [ˈɛtna], Sicilian: Mungibeddu or â Muntagna, Latin: Aetna) is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, Italy, in the Province of Catania, between Messina and Catania. It lies above the convergent plate margin between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate. It is the tallest active volcano on the European continent, currently 3,329 m (10,922 ft) high, though this varies with summit eruptions. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2 (459 sq mi) with a basal circumference of 140 km. This makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius. Only Mount Teide in Tenerife surpasses it in the whole of the European–North-African region.In Greek Mythology, the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under this mountain by Zeus, the god of the sky and thunder and king of gods, and the forges of Hephaestus were said to also be located underneath it.
Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity. The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture, with vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain and the broad Plain of Catania to the south. Due to its history of recent activity and nearby population, Mount Etna has been designated a Decade Volcano by the United Nations. In June 2013, it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
According to Adrian Room’s book Place-names of the World, the name Etna originated from the Phoenician word attuna meaning “furnace” or “chimney”. He dismisses the hypothesis that Etna is from the Greek αἴθω (aithō) – meaning “I burn” – through an iotacist pronunciation. In Classical Greek, it is called Αἴτνη (Aítnē), a name given also to Catania and the city originally known as Inessa, and in Latin it is called Aetna. In Arabic, it was called جبل النار Jabal al-Nār (the Mountain of Fire).
It is also known as Mungibeddu in Sicilian and Mongibello or Montebello in Italian (An Italian corrupted word literally meaning Monte mountain and Bello meaning beautiful, but is actually thought to be from the Latin mons and the Arabic جبل jabal, both meaning mountain, producing a tautological place name, “mountain mountain”). The term is not in common use today, although some older people still call it this. According to another hypothesis the term Mongibello comes from the Latin Mulciber (qui ignem mulcet, who placates the fire), one of the Latin names of the god Vulcan.
The people of the Etna sometimes use the jargon term ‘a muntagna, simply “the mountain” par excellence.
Nowadays, the term Mongibello indicates the mountain’s top area of the two central craters encompassing also the craters in the southeast and the northeast of the volcanic cone.
Etna is one of Sicily’s main tourist attractions, with thousands of visitors every year. The most common route is through the road leading to Sapienza Refuge ski area, lying at the south of the crater at elevation of 1910 m. From the Refuge, a cableway runs uphill to an elevation of 2500 m, from where the crater area at 2920 m is accessible. Stage 9 of the 2011 Giro d’Italia finished at the Sapienza Refuge. Alberto Contador initially took the win, but he was later disqualified and the stage win passed onto Jose Rujano.
Ferrovia Circumetnea – Round-Etna railway – is a narrow-gauge railway constructed between 1889 and 1895. It runs around the volcano in a 110-km long semi-circle starting in Catania and ending in Riposto 28 km north of Catania.
There are two ski resorts on Etna: one at the Sapienza Refuge, with a chairlift and three ski lifts, and a smaller one on the north, at Piano Provenzana, with three lifts and a chairlift.