Mount Etna's lava oozes down a hillside behind a church in Sicily on July 30.
Despite its nearly constant activity, the Sicilian volcano rarely causes harm, since Etna's eruptions occur so high up and its lava moves relatively slowly.
"We do not have a love-hate relationship with Etna," Salvatore Moschetto, mayor of nearby Nicolosi told National Geographic magazine in 2001. "We have a love relationship." (Preview the National Geographic article "Etna Ignites.")
Photograph by Marcello Paternostro, AFP/Getty Images
Etna's Fiery Columns
Columns of fiery lava erupt skyward from Mount Etna on July 30.
The Sicilian giant has captivated Mediterranean minds at least since the classical era, when Plato sailed from Greece just for a peek at it in 387 B.C. and when—legend has it—Odysseus dodged boulders hurled by a Cyclops on Etna.