The influence of regional tectonic and internal spreading upon the stability of the Etna volcano has been studied using scaled models. Experimental results reveal that active structures observed on the volcanic edifice result from the interaction between purely gravitational effects and regional tectonic linked to the subduction zone. Strike-slip components on active faults, visible both in the field and in analogue models, are caused by the interaction of the regional stress field (i.e. subduction that generates an E-W mininal horizontal stress) with the one associated with the volcano mass (i.e. spreading of the volcano). We demonstrate that a structure analoguous to the Valle del Bove can be triggered in scaled models as a result of both gravitational spreading of the volcano and the sinking of the dipping Ionian slab along major faults.