Smoke billows from Mount Etna volcano, the largest of Italy's three active volcanoes, near the Sicilian town of Catania, southern Italy, Saturday, July 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra)
Smoke billows from Mount Etna volcano, the largest of Italy's three active volcanoes, near the Sicilian town of Catania, southern Italy, Saturday, July 20, 2019.

ROME - Italy's Mount Etna, Europe's biggest live volcano, erupted overnight with lava flows and explosive burps, vulcanologists said Saturday.

A heavy emission of ash into the sky forced the closure of two airports in Sicily's second-biggest city of Catania. They partially reopened early Saturday.

The activity followed "lively spattering" recorded by the  National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) in early June and a previous eruption in December last year.

Eruptions are frequent, and the last major one dated back to early 2009.

The institute said this latest eruption was intermittent and the lava was flowing around 1.5 kilometres (one mile) down a desertic escarpment called the Valle del Bove (Ox Valley) from craters situated on the volcano's southeast face.