In Pictures

Life in the shadow of Mount Etna

The Mediterranean island of Sicily used to be one of Italy's richest regions but now, as it prepares for regional elections, its credit rating is close to junk status. There are fears that Sicily could become "the Greece of Italy" and drag the rest of the country into default.

And then there's the mafia. Despite some successful efforts to break the hold of deeply entrenched mafia power, corruption is still a huge issue.

But amid the chaos one Sicilian town is thriving. Catania sits on the slopes of mount Etna. Some locals believe they are protected by Europe's biggest volcano. This is their story.

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Slideshow by Anna Holligan.