After 1669, Landlocked 

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I talked about Etna’s eruption in 1669 and how the citizens of Catania didn’t evacuate, which led to thousands of citizens perishing? Well, another casualty of Etna’s wrath during that eruption was Castello Ursino, pictured. Commissioned by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1239 and surrounded by a moat, for centuries, the castle (which has 2-meter thick walls) seemed impenetrable, especially because it stood on a coastal promontory, surrounded by the sea. Well, the eruption of 1669 had no fear, and Etna’s lava flow filled the fortress’ moats and continued flowing past it, creating a new coastline. There was so much lava, that today, the castle, which now houses Catania’s civic museum, sits inland, about half a kilometer from the sea wall. The message, still relevant today: don’t underestimate Etna!

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