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Etna and the Perception of Volcanic Risk


  • I sincerely thank Thomas Puleo, Henry Sivak, reviewers, and the editor of Geographical Review for their helpful suggestions for the improvement of the text. The final translation was made by Newman's Language School (Nicolosi).


Sicily's uneven geological structure is positioned within a system of tectonic plates, and its very active volcano has always made it prone to disasters. Many Sicilian cities have in fact been destroyed by natural events many times over the centuries. This can certainly be understood negatively as the destruction of entire towns, the emission of volcanic ash, and the mutation of landscapes by a terrifying force have instilled fearful memories in local populations. But from another point of view one must consider the positive elements of Etna. Its beautiful landscapes were a major attraction on the Grand Tour, and its inhabitants have long associated the volcano with the concept of rebirth and fertility. This paper analyzes two age groups of residents in the town of Nicolosi and is a small part of an ongoing research project that is much more complex, involving representative samples of the entire population of several towns around Etna.