Among the many legends of the giants that lived on Etna, the most famous is probably that of the Cyclops, who threw the cliffs in the sea at Acitrezza to try to block Ulysses’ escape. But, apart from the mythology, there are real giants, beautiful and majestic, who have lived on Etna for longer than anything else. They managed, like us, to survive the eruptions, the lightning strikes and sometimes even the attempts by humans to eliminate them. We are talking about the oldest trees of Etna, the beings who have lived the longest of all on the slopes of our volcano, offering us a spectacle of form and colour with every season, particularly Spring and Autumn.
Chestnuts, pines, beeches, oaks, birches and poplars. Etna is home to a number of species, divided on the slopes by altitude, and by eruptions. There are easy and fascinating hikes on which they can be admired.
The most popular is, without doubt, the Hundred Horse Chestnut in the commune of San Alfio; it is the biggest chestnut tree in the world and one of the oldest. Legend tells of a queen who was accompanied by a hundred lords and ladies, who were surprised by a storm during a hunting party near the tree; they found refuge in its branches, large enough to shelter them all.
The Zappinazzu is a majestic pine 31m tall, 300 years old. We also find the king of the beech trees: the great tree of Acqua Rocca, watching over the source. Or there is the Ilice di Carrinu, a 700 year-old oak with long, twisted branches. There are also the many beeches of Mount Sartorius, where the trees are so big and the forest so thick it seems impenetrable. Don’t forget the trembling forest, located at the end of the path of Cubania, trees that owe their name to their leaves, which vibrate with the slightest breath of wind. Etna is home, without doubt, to other marvellous giants and delights us with a host of trees simply surviving in a hostile environment.0