A journey with an ancient taste, this by train, which brings us back to the emotions of the first travelers of the mid-nineteenth century who from England began to discover the world. Thanks to the geographical conformation of the country, the Italian railway travels for a good part along the coasts of the peninsula offering the traveler the opportunity to admire the beautiful seascape until reaching Villa San Giovanni. Here the locomotive and carriages of our Intercity are transhipped on the ferry for the crossing of the Strait of Messina that takes us to the island of Sicily. The journey continues to Catania with a spectacular view of the Isola Bella of Taormina and the Riviera dei Ciclopi characterized by its legendary stacks. From here it will be possible to embark on the Circumetnea that will allow us on a path along the circumnavigation of the Etna volcano to visit the villages and stay to discover the Alcantara Valley.
- Train Circumetnea
- Alcantara Valley
Meals as descripted
Cable car and entrance fees (to be paid locally)
- Identity card or passport
- Requirements required by the Italian State for anti covid prevention 19
Have no walking problems
Mountain clothing is recommended
- Comfortable non-slip shoes
- windproof jacket
Day 1 – Rome
We’ll leave Rome in the evening on an “Intercity Notte” night train for Catania, with tickets for either comfortable four-berth couchette compartments or sleeper cars.
Day 2 – Catania
In the early hours of the morning we’ll reach Villa San Giovanni, where the train will roll onto the ferry that will take us across the Strait of Messina, before continuing its journey when we reach the other side. The railway line runs along the coast, so there are amazing views of the landscape by the sea. Messina, Taormina, Isola Bella, the Riviera dei Ciclopi and towering Mount Etna will form the backdrop to this new travel experience. Once we’ve got to our hotel and dropped off our luggage, we’ll have a chance to explore the old town centre of the ancient city, which was founded by Chalcidians in 729 BC. Its artistic, architectural and cultural heritage has been enriched by the legacies of the many different rulers that it has had over the years. The Baroque old town centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Piazza Duomo is home to the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, which is dedicated to Saint Agatha, the patron saint of the city. The medieval “Bonadies” room, the Chapel of the Royal House of Aragon and the Sacristy are open from Monday to Friday. Other interesting places to visit include the famous fish market (open from Monday to Saturday, from midnight until 11:00 am), the Amenano fountain, the medieval Ursino Castle (open from Monday to Sunday, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm), the Benedictine Monastery (opening times to be confirmed), Villa Bellini, and the Allied Landings Museum (closed on Mondays). Everyone will be free to go wherever they like for dinner and we’ll stay in the hotel overnight.
Day 3 – Catania/Randazzo
We’ll have breakfast in the hotel, vacate our rooms and then the first part of the morning will be free for another quick look around the city. At around 11:00 am, everyone will make their own way to the Giovanni XXIII metro station by the Central Station, buy tickets at the station and take the first metro train to the Catania Borgo metro station. From there, we’ll take the 12:20 pm Circumetnea (FCE) train to Randazzo. We’ll travel clockwise on the line, which runs from the South-East to the North and back on a route that almost completely encircles Etna. Travellers can enjoy the stunning sight of the landscape as they go through woodland, citrus orchards, prickly pear and pistachio fields, and little villages. They’re the jewels in the crown of a generous land where the joys of times gone by can still be savoured. After a journey of approximately two hours – with stops at the little stations of Paternò, Biancavilla, Adrano and Bronte – we’ll arrive in Randazzo, which is known as the town with 100 churches. It’s where we’ll start our journey through the Alcantara Valley, the Pearl of the Mediterranean. A private transfer service will take us from the FCE station to the agritourism establishment where we’ll be staying. In the afternoon we’ll be free to unwind at the family-run establishment or take a stroll, start exploring the local area and maybe get to know some of the members of the welcoming local community. Our hosts will serve up a traditional dinner made using their own products and we’ll stay overnight at the agritourism establishment.
Day 4 – Randazzo
After a masterfully prepared breakfast featuring traditional local products, we’ll set off for Randazzo. Everyone will be free to wander around by themselves in the medieval town, which served as a crossroads for the many different people who settled between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Coasts of the island. There’s nothing quite like strolling through the narrow streets paved with black Etna stone and losing yourself among the delightful fragrances and hidden corners, listening to the Gallo-Italic dialect of the local community and admiring the historic churches by the squares, which reveal how the town was once divided into Greek, Latin and Lombard quarters. Dating back to 1200, the Minor Basilica of Santa Maria was built from rectangular ashlar blocks with contrasting decorative features made of white sandstone. It has a Latin cross floor plan, a nave that is divided from two side aisles by two rows of monolithic columns, and three apses that are laid out in the traditional Norman way. The basilica is a unique building that serves as the main place of worship on Piazza Santa Maria. The Church of San Martino in the Lombard quarter is the Christian construction with the most beautiful bell tower in Sicily. Standing 41 m tall, it dates back to the year 1000. The 13th century Church of San Nicolò in the Greek quarter looks out over the square of the same name. It is home to a statue of the giant Pyracmon, which features the symbols of all three districts in Randazzo: the lion of the Greek quarter, the snake of the Lombard quarter and the eagle of the Latin quarter. Make sure you stop at the Musumeci confectioner’s, which is renowned for its great pistachio pastries and Pirandello ice cream. Everyone will be free to take their pick from the restaurants in the old town centre at lunchtime. With a little luck, you might be able to have a look around the “House of Music”: a little workshop and museum containing a collection of musical instruments that have been expertly, lovingly rebuilt by a master luthier called Severini. In the evening we’ll head back to the agritourism establishment, where we’ll have dinner made using the hosts’ products and stay overnight.
Day 5 – Randazzo/Linguaglossa
After breakfast, everyone will be free to go for a walk in the surrounding area. After lunch, we’ll be taken to the station to catch the 3:06 pm FCE train to Linguaglossa, where we’ll arrive after approximately 38 minutes. On the way, we’ll see the harsher, wilder landscape between the Alcantara Valley and the mountain range of the Nebrodi Park and the Peloritani Mountains. Dotted throughout the scenery are numerous villages gently nestling between the slopes of Etna and extinct volcanic cones. Our staff will be waiting to bring the past back to life by taking you to a hotel in an old horse-drawn cart. We’ll settle into our rooms and then everyone will be free to take a healthy walk, breathe in the fragrant air and enjoy a revitalizing cup of herbal tea. We’ll have dinner and stay overnight in the hotel.
Day 6 – Linguaglossa/Etna/Alcantara gorges
After breakfast, we’ll meet up with our staff and then set off for a tour of Etna in an off-road vehicle. As we follow the Mareneve road, we’ll spot a wide range of different colours in the breathtaking landscape. We’ll go to Piano Provenzana and then the Sartorius Mountains: a series of seven craters dating back to the 1865 eruption that are now thought to be extinct. It’ll take us about 20 minutes to walk to them, along an attractive volcanic sand path lined with silver birch trees. In addition, there’ll be a chance to go down into the bowels of the volcano and visit an old (extinct) lava tube, which was used as an ice house in ancient times. We’ll have lunch in a winery, where we’ll have the opportunity to taste Etna wines. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the spectacular Alcantara Gorges. In the evening we’ll head back to the hotel, where we’ll have dinner and stay overnight once more.
Day 7 – Linguaglossa/Taormina-Giardini Naxos
We’ll have breakfast at the hotel, then vacate our rooms. A transfer service will take us to the train station. We’ll take the 12:10 pm FCE train, which will leave us at Riposto at 1:27 pm. We’ll then catch a regional train to Taormina-Giardini station. Everyone will be free to do whatever they like at lunchtime. A local shuttle bus (tickets to be bought on site) will take us to Taormina bus station, where we can leave our luggage and then take a nice stroll around the town known as the Pearl of the Mediterranean. Make sure you visit the magnificent ancient Greek and Roman Theatre, which has spectacular views of Mount Etna and the Ionian Coast. We’ll be free at dinner, so take your pick from one of the renowned little restaurants on the main street or get some delicious arancini (fried rice balls) from a rotisserie. We’ll head back to Taormina-Giardini station in time to catch the Intercity train for Rome, with tickets for either comfortable four-berth couchette compartments or sleeper cars.
Day 8 – Rome
We’ll arrive at Termini station in Rome city centre in the morning.End of tour.