Around Mt. Etna with the Circumetnea
Around Mt. Etna with the Circumetnea (photo: Trainpaparazzo/Flickr)

Around Mt. Etna with the Circumetnea

 An original and alternative way to discover the volcano Etna ist surely a round with the ferrovia Circumetnea (FCE). train. It's an historic train line opened in the year 1898. The Circumetnea is 110 Km long and runs around the Etna, crossing a lot of little villages at the feet of the volcano and delivering suggetive views of the typical dark lava landscape of the area. The Circumetnea route goes froma the station Catania Borgo to Riposto. Trains run in both directions and cross Etna villages like Paternò, Adrano, Bronte and Randazzo. The Circumetnea is not a pure tourisic train, although touristic runs with ancient wagons are sometimes organized. It's rather a train for commuter workers. A tour with the Circumetnea is equally a suggestive experience to discover fantastic Etna views and unknown corners of east Sicily.Who is a trip with the Circumetnea for ? If you have free time (the full run from Catania to Riposto takes over 3 hours) and if you like the charme of an old voyage with old wagons and stations, the Circumetnea is sure an experience for you. But if you like comfort and fast trains we don't suggest this train. Some wagons used for the Circumetnea are modern but other are old and without air conditioning , wc and with uncomfortable seats.

Railway CircumetneaHighlight of the route is the desert and suggestiva lava panorama with it's dark stones. This is typical between Adrano and Randazzo. You can also do some stops during the run, to visit some Etna villages.  Randazzo  has a nice architecture with lava stone buildings. If you like hiking and trekking, you can use the Circumetnea to reach the starting point for an excursion in nature at the feet of the volcano.

It's important to say that the Circumetnea train runs also through some urban and industrial areas, specially between Catania and Misterbianco.

If you have decided to have a tour with the Circumetnea, you can buy the ticket directly at the ticket office and choose your departure and arrive station. The rate for a full run from Catania to Riposto is € 7,90 (year 2017 rates). On the official website of the FCE it's always possible to find the updated ticket rates. Good departure station are Giarre, for those coming from north (Taormina, Giardini Naxos), or Catania for those coming from south. It's possible to arrive to Giarre or Catania direclty with a national "ferrovie dello stato" train. The Circumetnea station "Catania Borgo", in the city center, is directly linked to the central station with the  subway. The Circumetnea doesn't a complete route around the Etna but it is not necessary to do the same trip back. There are often direct trains linking the stations of Catania and Giarre.

The first runs of the Circumetnea depart around 6 am and the last around 8 pm. Not all the runs go from Catania to Riposto. A part only goes to Randazzo. The updated timetable is published on the official website of the FCE. For further informations it is also possibile to call the phone number +39 095 541250. On the FCE website you can also find informations about the subway of Catania because it's also managed by FCE. It's also possible to buy a combination ticket for the Circumetenea and the public transports in Catania.

Viator also offers Circumetnea tours from Taormina, which include coach from Taormina, Circumetnea ticket and professional tour escort. Further information are available on this page.

photo credits: P.Richards/Flickr; Trainpaparazzo/Flickr; Patrick1977/Wikicommons

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