Catania is the end of the line for a small railroad that encircles Mount Etna, the Ferrovia Circumetnea. In the heart of Catania, various remnants that date back to Roman times indicate the glorious past of the second largest city in Sicily, although its origins are far older.
The journey around Mount Etna begins in the small and unspectacular station of the privately owned Ferrovia Circumetnea narrow gauge railway. The railroad once traveled to Catania’s harbor and today, the line ends in the middle of the city. However, the simplicity of this railroad belies the fact that a journey along it is an absolute must!
A couple of kilometres outside Catania there are vast fertile fields. In the background is the mighty and more than 3,000 metre high Mount Etna, one of the most active and famous volcanoes in the world. The history of the railroad around Mount Etna began at the end of the 19th century when it was important that Sicily’s remote cities had ready access to the seaport of Catania.
The journey on the Ferrovia Circumetnea travels through some exceptionally beautiful scenery that contains a number of picturesque farms. The land owes its fertility to Mount Etna as, despite its destructive force, the fertile volcanic ground is ideal for agriculture.
Large quantities of carbon dioxide are constantly emitted from Etna’s crater, however, the crater’s white smoke is normally quite harmless. Even though the volcano is active throughout the year, eruptions are still relatively rare and the last large eruption was in 2002.
Just like a good wine, a ride on the Ferrovia Circumetnea improves with age. This must be the most atmospheric way in which to discover the remarkable Mount Etna!