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Circumetnea – The Train that Tugs around Mt. Etna

May 16, 2012

Travelling by train has always been a favorite as one can enjoy the scenery without having to focus on driving and may engage in interesting conversations with other passengers along the way.  Last weekend, I joined a group of trekkers and we boarded a train that would take us half way around the perimeter of Mt. Etna, traveling west.  One boards the train in the center of Catania, at the Cirumetnea train stop, Borgo.  In this case, the plan was that after a two hour train ride, the group would get off the train and walk through a nature reserve and around a lake enjoying the countryside for approximately 5 kilometers, to reach the town of Randazzo.  After visiting Randazzo and enjoying a break including ice cream, later in the afternoon, the group would board the train and return to Catania.     

As I sat down with my friend Gill who was visiting from Virginia, next to me was a  man in his forties.  He was well dressed and taking many, many pictures.  We started talking about the beautiful scenery which passed in front of us and he shared that he had not taken this trip on the train in 30 years.  He was coming from Bologna where he moved as a college student and remained to work and start a family.  He shared how growing up in Bronte, the town we reached after 90 minutes, he would commute each day on this train to attend high school in CAtania.  I asked what he did on such a long ride and he replied he would take a nap on the train in the morning and do homework in the afternoon, on the way home.  He was dressed very neatly and shared with hidden excitement that he was going home to surprise his mother.  After he said this, I realized the following day was indeed going to be Mother’s Day.

As one travels west on the circumetnea, the train chugs up and down as the terrain goes from sea level up to 922 meter elevation.  Randazzo which we walked to past Maletto stands at 753 meters, so luckily the walk to that town was not uphill.  The scenery one passses on this trip is breathtaking and so different from the eastern side of Mt. Etna.  As my friend Gill who was with me  commented, “This is Heidi Country.”  At that elevation, the green pastures remind the visitor of the alps and there are a variety of colors bursting over the green meadows dotted with cows, sheep, goats,  and horses.

The most enchanting views were of the enormous fields filled with “ginestra”, called broom in English.  (Ginestra sounds better!!)

Field of “ginestre” – Mt. Etna in the backdrop

Off the train starting the walk to Randazzo.  I asked, “Are we sure the next train comes by in one hour?”

The botanist leading the group explained that this is the pioneer Rose bush.

Lago Gurrita  – Lake Gurrita 

Final trek through Randazzo to catch the train back to Catania.

4 Comments
  1. Pamela De Leon permalink

    What stirkes me the most of all the places on the island…is that each is unique! Gill had it right…it looks delightfully like “Heidi country.”

  2. You are correct, Pamela. The island offers such diverse natural environments!

  3. Pamela De Leon permalink

    I just love the title of the blog post…reminds me of “The Little Train That Could!”

  4. Thank You! I love that story!

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