Physical Geography of Italy

by Aislinn Smith

Italian Volcanoes and Eruptions

Italy has many volcanoes, some having recently erupted, and some having been dormant for many years. Italy has the most Volcanoes in Mainland Europe.
The three that have erupted most recently are Mount Etna (continuous eruption), Stromboli (continuous eruption) and Mount Vesuvius (1944).


Tallest and Smallest Volcanoes

The tallest 3 volcanoes in Italy are Etna (3329m), Amiata (1738) and Monte Vulture (1326).
The shortest is Campi Flegrei Mar Sicilia, which is below sea level.


Mount Etna

A huge monster of a volcano, Mount Etna is the tallest volcano in Italy, as well as the most active volcano in Europe. However, despite the dangers, towns are nestled around the huge lava-spewing mountain. But why would you stay in such a dangerous place? For a very good reason, actually.
The volcanic soil is rich and fertile- crops grown in the towns around Etna are plentiful and healthy. There are fields of fennel and orchards of lemon and orange trees- the rich soil allows for easy farming. It also allows financial gain from tourism involved with the active volcano.

But it's not all sunshine and roses. Etna has the threat of being a constant active volcano, and has had very violent eruptions in the past.

In one of its most violent eruption recorded (1669), an Earthquake caused beneath the mountain killed 1500 people in the town of Nicoli. Afterwards, lava flowed down Etna, slowly but surely coming towards the town of Catania and destroying both the wall and half the town.

The reason this volcano is so violent, and erupting so commonly, is because the mountain sits on a fault line.


Etna sits squarely on a fault line. Magma from the mantle is sucked up, explaining the large amounts of lava issued forth by the mountain.