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A Geography lesson about Volcanoes in the St. Sylvester Crater of Mt.Etna


Towards the end of the last term, the Geography students were all excited to board the catamaran for Pozzallo, Sicily. The journey took around an hour and fifteen minutes and luckily for us, unfortunately for the fish, no one was sick.

Once in Pozzalo, a beautiful Mediterranean fishing village, a coach was waiting to take us to Nicolosi, the closest village to Mt. Etna. The students had the opportunity to admire the beautiful landscape of Sicily characterised with citrus fruits and vines. The guide told us that Sicily is also very famous for growing chestnuts especially in the whereabouts of Nicolosi due to the fertile volcanic soil.

When we drove past Catania, one could easily spot the massive volcano in a mist of clouds. Mt. Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe, standing tall at 3350 metres; Mt. Etna has a history of eruptions with the most recent one which occurred on the 11th January 2011. However, the largest and most destructive eruption was in April 1669, buildings in Nicolosi were destroyed by an earthquake and the fields around were submerged into fast flowing lava. The main stream of lava reached Catania at a speed of 50 metres an hour. The lava took eight years to cool down after it destroyed a large area of the town.

After a well-deserved rest at Nicolosi, we moved onto our next and main destination, the Sylvester craters at 1500 metres of altitude. The hill climb took around 30 minutes whilst the students could see the damages done by previous eruptions. Most noticeably was a house completely submerged in lava. Finally, when we reached our destination we made our way towards one of the craters. The crater is a massive hole in the side of the volcano and has not been active for a number of years. As the students ventured themselves in the crater they could appreciate the majesty and magnitude of the volcano. The students were also allowed to pick up pieces of stone lava as souvenirs from the crater itself also from the nearby souvenir shops.

To the end our trip in taste we went for a meal at the baroque city of Modica which was destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1669. After savouring an authentic Italian pizza we visited the city centre which is most famous for its chocolate and cannoli. After such an active day we journeyed back for home.

The students despite being tired had gained a new experience and acquainted new knowledge. Due to the short distance between Malta and Sicily, this trip is made possible and gives the opportunity to experience Geography outside the four walls of the classroom.

A small house submerged in lava.

A lesson at the Sylvester Craters

The Church at Modica City Centre




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