If you are looking for a unique way to see the countryside surrounding Mount Etna, hop aboard the historic narrow-gauge Circumetnea Railway. This scenic train ride takes passengers around the foot of Sicily’s famous volcano on a vintage mid-20th-century railroad car.
As its name suggests, the Circumetnea Railway (Ferrovia Circumetnea) circumnavigates the base of Mt. Etna from Catania Borgo to Riposto, just south of Taormina on Sicily’s eastern coast. The main line stretches over 68 miles (109 kilometers) with 30 stops—the largest stations are Paternò, Adrano, Bronte, Randazzo, and Giarre—and the complete trip from one end to the other takes more than three hours one way, assuming there are no delays. Along the way, enjoy lovely views over Sicily’s rural scenery, including the lunar landscapes of the lava fields, pistachio plantations, citrus groves, prickly pear cacti loaded with fruit, and the railway line’s picturesque abandoned stations.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Circumetnea Railway is a must for railroad fans and those looking for a different way to experience the Mt. Etna countryside.
- Not every train serves every station along the route, so make sure the train you’re taking will get you where you want to go.
- The historic cars are not air conditioned, so they can be uncomfortably hot when it’s warm outside.
- The vintage train cars are not easy to navigate with wheelchairs, though by law station personnel must guarantee wheelchair users access, as it is a public transport line.
How to Get There
From Catania, take the metro to Catania Borgo, from where the Circumetnea departs. The Riposto station is located in the center of town.
When to Get There
The Circumetnea is primarily a commuter train transporting locals from town to town, so trains run from early morning to late at night every day except Sundays and holidays. Opt for a ride departing in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid midday heat. The schedule varies depending on the season, so check at the Circumetnea station for the current timetable.
Visiting the Alcantara Gorges
You can combine a ride on the Circumetnea around Mount Etna with a visit to the spectacular Alcantara Gorges. Simply get off at the Randazzo stop and catch a bus to the gorges park, or book a combined tour of both to avoid the hassle of public transportation.