Circumetnea Sicily

An unconventional way to visit one of the Sicilian symbol: Mount Etna. The historic railway was inaugurated in 1898 and it travel around the volcano passing through many villages, offering to its travelers picturesque glimpses of this unique view.
  • Travelling time: 3 hours

  • Difficulty: Family

  • Why we love it: The path offers suggestive lands, an exceptional view of the volcano and lava landscapes that are beyond words and that alternate with wonderful country, among pistachio trees and prickly pears.

  • Length: 110 km

  • Total Elevation Gain: 960 m

  • Way to travel: by train

  • Cost: 7,25 €

  • Our Advice: The train ride is not overly long and train schedules allow you to split the trip comfortably. Choose as you like the stops you prefer! We suggest to visit at least Bronte and Randazzo.

Map
Map

We are in Catania, one of the most beautiful town in Sicily and one of the richest when it comes to history. This town of a thousand faces, with an inner city that is a World Heritage Site, is the starting point of our itinerary: a fascinating trip that you can do with the whole family, easily bringing the young ones as well, to discover the biggest active volcano of Europe.

From Catania, let’s head to Catania Borgo; here we’ll find the station of Circumetnea railway. There is a small train, a bit noisy, waiting for us. It’s gonna be a ride that will bring you back in time, with its slowness so different and distant from those of the new vehicles, that will make you recall the old pleasure of traveling by train. Get in the wagon: there’s an unusual and exciting day before us!

Circumetnea, photo by Jurjen van Enter via flickr
Circumetnea, photo by Jurjen van Enter via flickr

We start climbing among lava rocks, through a lunar landscape that here and then makes room to some wide field colored by pistachio flowers and prickly pears. The Etna is there, at some point it seems you can almost reach it; it will keep us company through the whole trip. Along the way we find several small and picturesque villages such as Paternò and Adrano, small rural towns. Halfway in our journey, we find ourselves in the small train station of Bronte. This city, well known for its pistachios, lies in an extraordinary beautiful territory, on the western foot of Etna. After the train station of Bronte, be prepared to encounter no other towns for a good while; it’s here that the rail reaches its highest spot: 967m above sea level, around Rocca Calanna. In this stretch the railway offers the most suggestive landscapes. From here the slope starts; our destination: the sea! Here, we can stop in the station of one of the most interesting town of the whole itinerary: Randazzo. Randazzo is an ancient, medieval village and it’s the town that stands nearest to the Etna. The village has an antique charm, made even more unique by the color of its buildings, built with the dark blocks of lava rock. Among these, you can’t miss the spectacular Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. After one of curves of the tracks, the sea will appear out of the blue to us, and a bit more ahead is our destination: the town of Riposto.

Randazzo, photo by Luca Sartoni via Flickr
Randazzo, photo by Luca Sartoni via Flickr

On board of a vintage train you can discover the Mount Etna from a new point of view, listening to the staff telling you tales about the history of the railway and of the villages. A journey to discover breath-taking landscapes that change as the seasons do, from the Mount Etna being covered with snow to the same lands in bloom in early spring.

To better organize your train itinerary, on the official railway site you can check the timetable, calculate the route and the fares.

View of Mount Etna covered with snow
View of Mount Etna, photo by Boris Behncke via Flickr

Author: Chiara Marras

Cover photo by Nicola Maritato via Flickr

 

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