Volcanoes in Italy

by Kshaunish Jaini

One of the most volcanically active countries in the entire world is that of Italy and it is home to the only active volcanoes in all of the mainland of Europe. Italy's volcanic activity is mainly due to the presence of the boundary that lays between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate to the southern region of the country. There are nearly 20 volcanoes that exist in Italy, three of which are quite active and threaten often prove to be a looming threat to the cities that lie at their bases. Here, we will be exploring some of the top volcanoes in Italy that you can look forward to checking out on your next holiday in Italy.

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Mount Etna

The largest volcano in all of Europe is Mount Etna and it is also one of the most active volcanoes in the entire world in terms of both productivity and frequency of eruptions. Mount Etna has quite frequent periods of intermittent to very persistent activities as well as major eruptions that occur from the new vents that pop up on the flanks of the volcano between every 1 to 20 years. The most notable feature of Mt. Etna’s activity is the volume of the lava that the volcano emits when it does erupt. Though the explosive activity of the volcano is pretty infrequent, when it does happen it is most certainly noteworthy and tends to occur from four various summit craters. Some of the strongest eruptions that took place occurred in 1669, 1879, 1892, and 2002-2003.

Italy Volcano Etna

Cloud of smoke from Mt Etna in Italy.

If you are planning a visit to Italy, you will most certainly not want to miss the opportunity to experience Mt. Etna. Though you can view Mt. Etna from pretty much anywhere in Sicily, the city closest to the volcano is Catania. In Catania, you will be able to enjoy some of the finest wines in the area, as the grapes that grow in the volcanic ash of Mt. Etna make for some of the best in all of Europe. You can take a ride on the cable-car up to the top of Mt. Etna, or even go skiing down the volcano during the winter months, or simply take a hike during the warmer months. Mt. Etna provides some of the best views of the picturesque towns below and certainly make for unforgettable memories and photo ops!

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Mount Vesuvio (Vesuvius)

Mount Vesuvio (Vesuvius) is easily the most well-known volcanoes on the planet. And it remains to this day as one of the most dangerous as well. Most notably infamous for having been the source of the first eyewitness account of a volcanic eruption in all of history (AD 79), and thus leaving behind the memories of what life was like in the village of Pompeii just moments before becoming forever entombed in the volcanic ash. From a geological standpoint, Vesuvio is so special due to its striking versatility. With activity that ranges in a manner that makes this volcano so incredibly difficult to predict. This remarkable volcano looms over a half a million people who live at the base of the mountain in a series of various villages and towns around it, and the volcano continues to make its threat for future eruptions.

Italy Volcano Vesuvius

The majestic Mt Vesuvius in Italy.

Mount Vesuvius is one of the top tourist destinations in the entire world, which of course means that there is also a ton of things that you can take advantage of experiencing in the area as well. Whether you opt to explore the area yourself or take one of the many guided tours, you will certainly be sure to get your fair share of history in this remarkable area. Don’t miss the chance to visit Pompeii and the ruins of Herculaneum, go eat at one of the incredibly delicious restaurants in the vicinity and then head over to the volcano. You can take advantage of hiking or driving up to the top and will be able to enjoy the splendor and wonder that makes up the power of Mt. Vesuvius.

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Stromboli Volcano

Stromboli Volcano

The majestic Stromboli looming over the skyline in Italy.

Stromboli volcano is a volcano that continuously displays eruptive or “persistent” activity over the course of periods that last more than several years and often decades. The vast majority of the volcanic activity is pretty moderate in size, with small, short bursts of lava the can reach heights of usually no more than 150m, the volcano has been noted to have more violent eruptions that can often last several hours and come complete with ejections of bombs and blocks of lava, and sometimes even lava flow. In fact, in 1919 and 1930, there were two detrimental eruptions that caused significant damage and deaths. In recent years, there were a couple of explosions that have shocked tourist groups who were in the vicinity of the summit and caused some incidents due to people panicking. This volcano is strikingly hard to predict and it has been by sheer luck that tourists haven’t been caught in serious eruptions that have occurred at a moment’s warning (or no warning at all).

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Stromboli volcano is situated in an area that has a ton of incredible adventures available to those who come to visit! If you are seeking to hike the volcano itself, you are more than welcome to hike 400m up to the crater itself, however you will need a local area guide if you want to get any closer than that. If you aren’t comfortable getting up close and personal to the crater, be sure to check out the Sciara del Fuoco Viewpoint, which will take you an alternative scale up the Stromboli summit. It is about an hour long trek to reach the viewpoint and no guide is required. The viewpoint allows you the opportunity to view the Sciara del Fuoco (which is the blackened laval scar that runs down the northern flank of the volcano). There is even a spot to stop for pizza about halfway up the hike!

Italy Volcano Etna

Mt Etna in Italy. \

There really is more than meets the eye to these spectacular forces of nature! Whether you are seeking to take a hike up to the highest vantage point, go on a guided tour to experience the history and legacy of the volcanoes or simply take in their splendor from the base, you will certainly be experiencing a once in a lifetime opportunity when it comes to planning a visit to any one of the incredible volcanoes of Italy.

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