The Eastern Etna Riviera

Land of artistic inspiration

This area of Sicily, forged from the lava flows of Etna and the waves of the Ionian sea, has inspired poets, writers, directors and artists of international renown.  Virgil, inspired by the charm of the place, wrote the poem “Aetna”, which recalls its volcanic phenomena, and then, in the 4th book of the Aeneid, he had one of the most passionate characters in literature born here: “Dido the Forsaken”, who personifies the irrational part lying in all of us. The beauty of the place inspired the great poet Ovid, who chose the Sicilian woods of Etna to tell the story of the abduction of Proserpina by Pluto in his “Metamorphoses”. The majestic image of Etna influenced Lorenzo de’ Medici, according to whom the volcano embodies amorous passion, an idea also used in the poetry of Torquato Tasso, who described Etna as a forge for ardent passion. Etna fascinated and inspired people even on the other side of the Alps, with Shakespeare comparing the flames of the volcano to the flames of hell in Titus Andronicus, and Milton choosing it as the setting for his narration of the Rape of Proserpina. In the Romantic period, this territory was a destination for Goethe, who, during his Grand Tour, visited Etna and the Cyclopean Isles, rediscovering the appeal of a more intense relationship with nature. And it was precisely in the wilderness of the Etna area that Goethe found the vital force to reach the divine.

The painter and etcher Jean-Pierre Houël, when he obtained permission and financing for his Grand Tour in Italy, also did not fail to make a stop in this part of Sicily. It had such a strong impact that he returned to stay for four years, visiting every part of the region. Everything beautiful and culturally interesting that he saw was then depicted in the monumental work, Voyage pittoresque des isles de Sicile, de Malta et de Lipari, full of panels and etchings created with the aquatint technique.

Etna and the surrounding area presents itself as a rich concentration of mysteries, fables and legends that are reflected in a great many literary, poetic, pictorial and cinematic works that have increased its fame and mythical aura. From a literary perspective, two of the greatest Sicilian writers, Verga and Pirandello, set many of their works in these evocative places.

The Etna territory, full of art and ancient cultures and traditions, is also a legendary place for cinema. There is no shortage of directors who have taken inspiration from the place. Among the many, we cannot fail to mention: Luchino Visconti, Giorgio Strehler, Epstein, Buñuel, Pasolini, Straub, Bolognini, Zeffirelli and Lavia.

In more recent years, Etna and the interiors of the Palazzo Biscari in Catania and the Castello degli Schiavi in Fiumefreddo di Sicilia were the settings for the Coldplay video “Violet Hill“, showing the whole world (almost 70 million views) the rugged beauty of this land.