2S-4 Route 33. MOUNT jETNA. Vegetation.
Mount JEtna, Sicilian Mongibello (from monte and djebel, the
Arabic for mountain), commonly termed uIl Monte", is the loftiest
volcano in Europe, as well as the highest mountain in Italy.
Height 10,849 Engl, ft.; principal points: Nicolosi 2270 ft., the
Monti Rossi 2721 ft., Casa del Bosco 4216 ft.; snow-houses at
the base cl' the Montagnuolo, the W. extremity of the Serra del
Solfizio, 6930 ft.; Casa Inglese 9662 ft. ; Torre del Filosofo, on
the verge of the Val di Bove, 9500 ft. iEtna is usually divided
into three zones of vegetation. The first extends as far as Nicolosi,
the so-called Piemontese or Coltivata, which yields the usual Si¬
cilian products. Vines, however, are occasionally seen at a height
of 4000 ft. The next zone is the Boscosa or Nemorosa, extending
to 7000 ft. and subdivided into two regions. The lower of these
(2200—3700 ft.) is clothed chiefly with oaks and chestnuts, above
which are copper-beeches (fagus sylvatica) and birches (betula alba
and betula Etnensis). On the N.E. side where extensive pine-
forests are situated, pines (pinus silvestris; Sicil. zappinu) grow
to a height of 7200 ft. The highest region, from 7000 ft. to the
summit, is almost entirely destitute of vegetation, a circumstance
due to the scarcity of water and the frequent changes in the
surface of the soil. About 40 species of plants only are here
found, among which are the barberry, juniper, viola gracilis,
saponaria depressa. Within the last 2000 ft. 5 phanerogamous
species only flourish: senecio Etnensis, anthemis Etnensis, Ro-
bertsia taraxacoides (these three peculiar to ^Etna), tanacetum
vulgare and astragulus Siculus, which last grows in tufts of
3—4 ft. in diameter. The senecio Etnensis is found as high as
the vicinity of the crater, several hundred feet above the Casa
Inglese. Not a trace of animal life can be detected on the higher
portion of the mountain. The black silent waste, glittering in the
sunshine produces an impression seldom forgotten by those who
witness it. On the lower parts of the mountain, wolves, as well
as hares, rabbits and a few wild boars, are the usual objects of
the chase. iEtna is clothed with 14 different forests, which, how¬
ever, do not present any definite line of demarcation. Ferns (espe¬
cially the pteris aquilina) frequently take the place of underwood.
The densest forests are the Boschi della Cerrila and di Lingua¬
glossa on the N.E. side, which however suffered greatly from the
eruption of 1865. As late as the 16th cent, impenetrable forests
extended from the summit down to the valley of the Cantara, and
Cardinal Bembo extols the beauty of the groves of plane-trees.
About the beginning of the last century about '/3rd of the entire
E. coast of the island was still overgrown with forest.
jEtna has been known as a volcano from the earliest ages.
At one time the mountain has been represented as the prison of
the giant Enceladus or Typhoeus, at another as the forge of