The volcanoes on Sicily are absolutely fascinating! But why? Read on to learn all about these magnificent feats of nature…
The volcanoes on Sicily
Did you know Sicily is home to some of the most absurd volcanoes on Earth? Not only this but many of these volcanoes have odd historical myths related to them. From towering Mount Etna to mysterious Mount Marsili, Sicily’s volcanic landscape has captured the attention of adventurers and scientists for centuries.
Today in this post, we will unveil 10 of the most fascinating facts about the volcanoes on Sicily, so you make the most out of your Italian vacation. So, get ready to be blown away by these shocking yet mesmerizing facts!
1. Many Volcanoes Have Greek Mythology Attached to Them
Many of the volcanoes on Sicily, specifically Mount Etna and Stromboli, have fascinating Greek mythologies attached to them. According to the ancient Greeks, Sicily’s volcanoes were not just geological formations. Instead, these formations had emotions and were breathing entities with personalities.
Thus, these volcanoes were believed to be where God lived and controlled Earth. In one such folklore, it is thought that Hephaestus, the God of fire, used to live below Mount Etna. While staying there, he used to craft his weapons and armor. Because of this reason, he was anciently known as the Aitne; Mount Etna used to be his forge.
On the other hand, in another myth, it is believed that there existed another God named the Titan Prometheus. He was known for his brave mind and cunning creativity. Greeks believed that he used to create humans out of clay. Not only this, but he also stole fire from the Gods and gifted it to humans, even though it was forbidden for humans to have fire.
Today, as you gaze upon the majestic volcanoes of Sicily, including Mount Etna, you can still feel the enduring legacy of Greek mythology. The myths and legends of the ancient Greeks have left a lasting impression on the people there, and they continue to inspire them to this day.
2. 9 of Italy’s Volcanoes Are in Sicily
Italy is known for being home to 13 of the most active volcanoes in the world. However, we are sure you probably didn’t realise that 9 of these 13 volcanoes have been on the island of Sicily. Being the largest island in the Mediterranean, the concentration of volcanoes on Sicily is just way too high.
Sicily’s volcanic terrain profoundly influences the island’s culture, history, and economy. Additionally, on the slopes of these volcanoes, you can find many vineyards and citrus orchards since the soil is rich and perfect for farming. Due to this unique terrain, you might also encounter several hot springs and spas along these volcanoes.
If you plan to visit there, try to visit Mount Etna, the world’s largest active volcano. Other volcanoes that you can see on Sicily include Stromboli and Vulcano.
You will notice that the scenery of the surrounding area is shaped continuously by the presence of active volcanoes. Their unreal beauty and mysterious air will definitely make you fall in love with this Italian island.
3. Mount Etna – A Potential Submarine Volcano
Mount Etna is one of the highest and most active volcanoes in Europe. Despite being a terrestrial volcano, scientists believe that this volcano once used to be a submarine volcano. Yes, we aren’t even kidding! One of the world’s most active volcanoes once used to stay below sea level. Sounds impossible, right?!
Scientists believe Mount Etna started erupting underwater, which is how it came into being. Additionally, the underneath oldest volcano layers have further supported this evidence. As a result, it indicates that Etna started as a submarine volcano. Such volcanoes have vents on the top that erupt magma on the ocean floor.
In addition, seafloor mapping has revealed the presence of underwater volcanic cones and fissures in the area surrounding Mount Etna. This further indicates a potential for underwater volcanic activity in the region.
Even though it grew up from the ocean floor, Mount Etna still stands 11,014 feet tall. Moreover, the whole set-up of this mountain is just way too unreal to believe. It looms over the beautiful city of Catania in Sicily, which can be spotted almost from any of the volcanoes on Sicily.
4. Three of the Volcanoes on Sicily Are Constantly Changing Height
Researchers and scientists have proposed that the volcanoes on Sicily are constantly reporting changes in their height. Now, this is a fact that we cannot deny in any way because what more could we expect from super-active volcanoes? A lot of the volcanoes here are constantly erupting, and this is the reason they can only maintain a certain height.
For instance, three of the most active volcanoes in Sicily are Mt. Etna, Stromboli, and Vulcano. One interesting fact about these volcanoes is that they are all Stratovolcanoes. So, what makes them apart from the usual ones? Basically, Stratovolcanoes are located above the ground, and their eruptions result in a layer-by-layer structure.
Since a new layer is deposited whenever the eruption occurs, which aids in the overall height of the volcano, for example, Mount Etna has reported a lot of changes in its initial height. Being one of the most notable volcanoes on Sicily, its altitude has been measured regularly for a long time.
Constant lava flow and collapse of volcanic material have resulted in drastic height changes. However, Mount Etna isn’t the only volcano going through this variation. Other volcanoes on Sicily reporting an elevation change include the Stromboli and Vulcano.
5. Several Vineyards Are Located at the Base of Mount Etna
Not many of us might like to get close to the volcanoes on Sicily because of the severe eruptions. However, that is not the case at all! Many volcanic points can be hiked or even used as a stopover for exploring beautiful wineries. Despite having hot, humid conditions, the base of these volcanoes is known to have some of the most delectable vineyards in the world.
In order to raise grapes, soil full of nutrients and minerals is required. Because of the constant eruptions and volcanic ash accumulation, the soil at the base of Etna is perfect for cultivating grapes. The weather here provides good drainage and moisture retention for vines to develop deep roots and produce superior-quality grapes.
You can come across a variety of vines on Mount Etna, including red and white wines, as well as sparkling wine. If you want to excite your taste buds, make sure to give a shot at these unique flavors.
However, if tasting wine isn’t your cup of tea, you can also explore the vineyards for fun. Here you will be able to understand the history behind the winemaking culture in the region and also get to capture shots with lush green landscape.
6. Skiing Is Possible on Sicily’s Volcanoes
While skiing at volcanoes on Sicily might sound dangerous, it is incredibly thrilling and fun. Located on the Mediterranean coast, Sicily has a number of beautiful beaches for water sports. However, during winter, you can also enjoy high-end skiing on one of the many volcanoes available here.
One of the most fun-filled locations to count on for skiing is Mount Etna. Its unique downhill slopes make this volcano a great place to enjoy every kind of winter sport. You can try your hands on snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing. To make the most out of your skiing venture, visit there during December.
Some other volcanoes that offer skiing experience include Stromboli and Vulcano. However, we would suggest these volcanoes for skiing only to those experts in the sport. The slopes here are much more complex and rugged, which might need specific skills and gear.
As you ski through the terrain, you will discover the unique landscape surrounding these volcanoes. Eruptions over the centuries have created a stunning backdrop that is a treat for summer and winter sports. Don’t worry about the necessary gear, as you can rent them at the base of almost all volcanoes on Sicily!
7. Volcanic Activity Has Raised Unique Landscapes on the Island
Due to the large number of active volcanoes on Sicily, numerous unique landscapes have emerged out of nowhere on the island. Every one of these terrains is different from the others and has its own charms. One such landscape that occurred due to fiery eruptions is the Alcantara Gorge. This gorgeous landform came into existence due to lava eruptions from Mount Etna some 2,500 years ago.
This gorge is in the form of a deep and narrow canyon and runs for about several kilometers. Here you can spot some extraordinary gorgeous towering cliffs and crystal-clear water. Some water sports you can try at Alcantara Gorge are; canyoning, body rafting, and riverboarding.
Another amazing landscape created by volcanic activity is the Aeolian islands. These are the group of islands on the northern coast of Sicily and are believed to be submarine islands. Additionally, a diverse range of landscapes, including rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, and forests, can be found here.
In addition to the landscapes created by volcanic activity, the island is home to several natural hot springs and thermal baths. These hot springs are a popular destination for visitors seeking relaxation and are a testament to the legacy of the island’s volcanic activity.
8. Stromboli is Known as the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.”
Have you ever thought of experiencing live lava pouring out of a volcano at night? If yes, then you can have your dream come true at Stromboli. Known as the lighthouse of the Mediterranean, Stromboli is known to fire small yet continuous lava eruptions.
These explosions at night seem like a lava lamp that is bursting out orange and red colors all at once. And Stromboli is the only place among the many volcanoes on Sicily where you can spot such wonder.
You don’t have to be afraid of these explosions as they are mild and have a short time span. If you ever visit there, you can spot this spectacular natural light show at night from miles away. You can literally think of these lights as a lighthouse from the far, so now you know from where the nickname lighthouse of the Mediterranean comes.
For hikers, the Stromboli is a popular destination. Because the eruptions aren’t severe, you can hike up close to the volcano. To remain on the safer side, it is advised to choose the right gear and, of course, a tour guide before exploring any of the volcanoes on Sicily.
9. The Island’s Soil Is Fertile Due to Its Volcanic Activity
Because of volcanic eruptions for thousands of years, the soil in Sicily is extremely fertile and fit for agriculture. So, what is so special about the ground here? Basically, volcanic soil is rich in nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, and other elements.
As a whole, all of these minerals play an important role in promoting the healthy growth of plants and flowers. Additionally, ash-infused soil can hold water for a long time to withstand extended periods of drought.
Some common crops grown on the volcanoes of Sicily are citrus fruits, grapes, olives, and vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants. Guess green vineyards aren’t the only thing you would find at volcanoes on Sicily.
10. Valley of Temples Is Built on Top of a Volcanic Plateau
Have you ever thought of temples existing at the top of a volcanic plateau? No right?! But in Sicily, you can expect to come across such a situation. Girgenti Plateau is one of the volcanoes on Sicily that houses an ancient Valley of Temples surrounded by picturesque hills.
Now you must be thinking, who could even come up with the idea of creating temples at such height? Of course, the Greeks were the first to choose the location for these iconic temples. Because the surface here was flat, it made it easier for them to construct massive structures over there.
Over the years, natural disasters, including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, have caused the landscape to evolve into an iconic tourist destination. Whether you are a history enthusiast or just someone who longs for exploration, this is a perfect location to start with.
The area surrounding the temples is extremely lush and rich with vegetation. As usual, the volcanic eruption in the region has made the soil here fertile, which also serves the purpose of sustaining the community.
Hopefully, now you have enough reasons to visit the volcanoes on Sicily. Whether you want to hike or take in the stunning scenery, Sicily’s volcanoes offer something for everyone.
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