Etna’s eruptions have been documented since 1500 BC, when phreatomagmatic eruptions drove people living in the eastern part of the island to migrate to its western end. The volcano has experienced more than 200 eruptions since then, although most are moderately small. Historic eruptions are recorded for the year 479 B.C., 1329, 1381 and 1536, one of the largest and most destructive eruptions was a flank eruption in March to July 1669 from near the village of Nicolosi (800m a.s.l.) which produced the cinder cone Monti Rossi and a 14km long lava flow which, despite it was partially deviated from its path by a artificial dam, destroyed part of the city of Catania, obstructed the harbour and caused victims.
Cinder cones on Etna erupted again in 1763, 1811, 1852, 1865, 1879 and 1892. In the 20th century, concentrated on two main branches extending from the crest, lava erupted in 1908, 1910, 1911, 1918, 1923, 1928, 1942, 1947, 1949 and 1950-1951, 1964, 1968, 1971, 1981, 1983, 1989 and 1991 (the most voluminous eruption since 1669) to 1993.
The activity continues in the 21th century, from 2001 Etna is more or less active (in 2002 and 2003 the volcano produced spectacular ash plumes), weaker since 2008 now the activity increased again since 12 January 2011.