Plato sailed in just to catch a glimpse in 387 BC; in the 9th century AD the oldest gelato of all was shaved off its snowy slopes; and in the 21st century the volcano still claims annual headlines. Etna has erupted a dozen times in the past 30 or so years, most spectacularly in 1971, 1983, 2001, 2002, and 2005. There were also a pair of medium-size eruptions in 2008, one in 2009, and fairly constant eruptive activity during the summer of 2011 and winter of 2013. Travel
in the proximity of the crater depends on Mt. Etna's temperament, but you can walk up and down the enormous lava dunes and wander over its moonlike surface of dead craters. The rings of vegetation change markedly as you rise, with vineyards and pine trees gradually giving way to growths of broom and lichen.