12 February 1933

Ascent to the crater of Mount Etna

Famiglia Notarbartolo
Music by Guglielmo Pagnozzi

"On the summit, a shelter had been built where one could wait for the dawn. It dawned at last: an immense scarf of Iris stretched from horizon to horizon; strange fires shone on the ice of the summit; the vastness of the land and sea opened up to our gaze as far as Africa, visible, and Greece, which could be guessed. It was one of the supreme moments of my life' (Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian).

The ascent of Mount Etna, the highest volcano in Europe, has been an experience shared by emperors, philosophers, poets, writers and explorers since the dawn of time. The emperor Hadrian climbed to the summit. The philosopher Empedocles is said to have thrown himself into its crater, which returned only a sandal. In the 1930s, the Valle del Bove, along the eastern slope of Etna, was a destination for mountaineers. On 12 February 1933, it was Marco Notarbartolo di Sciara's turn to film the ascent in 16mm. In the footage, the smoke from the volcano almost overlaps the snow that has buried the refuge. Notarbartolo, who like Hadrian stays the night waiting for the next day's dawn, is enraptured by the sight of the horizon, but unlike the emperor he can film it.