This photo, taken by Roberto Zingales in 2007, shows a fountain of lava flowing from Mt. Etna
The tallest volcano in Europe at over 10,000 feet, Etna is in an a near-constant state of eruption. Geologists believe it has been active for half a million years. The ancient Romans considered it the home of the blacksmith god Vulcan. Volcanic activity meant he was busy forging weapons for the god of war.
Mt. Etna is a stratovolcano located on top of an older shield volcano. The mountain has three craters and several flank vents. The lava flows out slowly and steadily on several sides. The volcanic soil around the mountain is very fertile.
In January 2011 Mt. Etna sent plumes of lava, smoke and ash into the sky. Last month another eruption ejected enough ash to cause a closure at Sicily's Catania-Fontanarosa International Airport.
According to Lewis Bazley in the Mail Online (Jan 13, 2011), though a violent eruption in 1669 caused 15,000 deaths, since then the volcano's activities have caused relatively little disturbance. Amazingly, this pyrotechnical marvel lies only 12 kilometres from the Sicilian town of Milo, and just a slightly longer distance from Catania.