TENUTA DI FESSINA: A’ FIMMINA SU LA MUNTAGNA.
Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. ‘A Muntagna – as it has always been called by the locals – it is a very particular place, which brings us back to our dimension. A living organism, which changes every day, like us. Every day it throws a little ash, a little dust, a few puffs of smoke into the sky. And the landscape changes visibly. This smoke brings new earth to the mountain, which grows and regenerates.
Enclosed between the Alcantara valley, one of the most scenic natural beauties of Sicily, the Simeto basin and the Catania plain on one side and the sea on the other, the Etna massif is the great “guardian father” of the island, in a mixture of respect and fear. Extending for 1570 km2 and with a perimeter of 221 km, its peak reaches 3350 m. with gentle slopes, up to 1550 m., cultivated and inhabited. There are dark lava flows with patches of forest and patches of broom up to 2400 m. and then, finally, bare rock. The base of the volcano appears well raised above sea level, while the cone rises up to 2900 m, where it flattens into an elliptical plateau like the residue of an old crater, to reach the terminal cone, still active.
“Etna is like an immense house cat that quietly snores and every now and then wakes up, yawns, stretches with lazy slowness and, with a distracted paw, covers now one valley, now another, obliterating towns, vineyards and gardens . And just like Eliot’s cats it has three different names: Etna, Mongibello, and the third secret. Immense”.
Hundreds of secondary lava cones are found scattered along the slope, from which lava material occasionally escapes and often reaches the populated area. In 1669 a flow reached Catania destroying some neighborhoods, while in 1928 it destroyed Mascali. The volcanic soil is made up of lava, basalts, tuffs, lapilli and ashes which are very permeable to water. Snow is always present on the summit in winter, but the area is arid as it has no rivers and streams. The latter are found abundantly below, together with springs and wells.