Your Own Pet Crater

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from “Unprotected Females In Sicily, Calabria, And On The Top Of Mount Etna” By Helen Lowe

I found the following note in a memoir I stumbled upon while doing research for my book about the wines and wineries of Mount Etna.

The memoir, “Unprotected Females In Sicily, Calabria, And On The Top Of Mount Etna” was written by Helen Lowe and published by Routledge, in London, in 1859. The memoir is a personal account of an adventurous vacation in southern Italy and Sicily.

On walking atop Monterosso (one of Etna’s ferrous southeast craters), Lowe writes … “The higher of two craters thrown up the last time Catania was destroyed … [Monterosso is] a brilliant red, save where the vines clothe the steep sides. Arrived at the top, on looking down the concave crater, beautiful trees are seen to grow from whence the consuming fire once issued. Looking around, endless other volcanic hills appear crowding together over Ætna’s sides, to the number, it is said, of more than a hundred, which peculiarity makes her so different to other mountains. They are turned into vineyards, and everybody in the neighborhood who can afford it, has his own pet crater, and drinks the wine.

Between the publication of this memoir and recent years, the vineyards Lowe writes about and terraces have fallen derelict to the struggles of Sicily and modern times.

Today, Monterosso is coming back to life. The vineyard on the slopes of the old crater are being recuperated by three friends who have a passion for Etnaen history and wine—Aurelio Marconi, Giovanni Ferlito, and Gianluca Strano [see photo below, names in order, L to R]. Using ancient and modern methods, Monterosso Wine produces four wines from native Etna grape varieties on one of Etna’s most unique “pet craters.”

Photos courtesy of Monterosso Wine
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