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Mt. Etna wineries and transportation

This spring, we will be in Sicily for almost 4 weeks. Transportation, rental cars in particular, has been complicated. We are traveling around the perimeter of the island and will be renting a car for the southern cities. The rest of the time we will be using public transportation. Buses/trains will be fine for us, except for the Mt. Etna/Randazzo area. We are interested in wine tasting and visiting a couple of the cities (Randazzo, Linguaglossa, maybe Castiglione) We are not interested in the "volcano" aspects. We've hiked volcanoes in the past. We will be arriving Randazzo from a night in Taormina by Circumetnea (train). I am getting mixed information on the circumetnea. I read somewhere that the scheduling is erratic.

We would like to drive around half of the volcano, Randazzo to Zafferana, stopping for views, photography and wine tasting.

The Circumneta website doesn't seem to have an English language option, I did a google search for getting a website translated and it seems complicated. . . . Any insight into the schedule and reliability of this train is appreciated.

I would appreciate recommendations for car rental, scooter rental or electric bike rental out of Randazzo. We know about drink/drive regs in Italy. Our pace is such that impaired driving isn't an issue. (We picnic and take photos, etc.)

I would like recommendations for wineries. We LOVE small, family wineries over slick, commercial operations. We like good wine, and great wine, but when we travel we go for the "experience" more so than exceptional wine. We once tasted in Vouvray with the winemaker's daughter, in what seemed to be a garage by a driveway filled with children's toys. PERFECT! And the wine was a good "picnic" wine and very inexpensive.

I also would love suggestions for things to see that we might not pick up on in a guidebook.

Posted by
20857 posts

This is the September 2021 timetable. I'd expect the spring 2022 timetable to be reasonably similar, but I admit I'm just guessing. It's possible the 9/21 timetable was significantly reduced due to COVID and the pandemic situation will have improved enough before you travel that there will be more departures than we see here.

When I simply Googled circumetnea, I got links to articles about the train. If any of those were published from fall 2020 on, perhaps they have clues about reliability. I don't remember having any concerns about that before I took the train in 2015; unfortunately, I also don't remember what sort of frequency my research had told me to expect.

Posted by
6540 posts

jules m, we visited the Benanti winery on Mt Etna as part of the RS Sicily tour. It was a small family-owned operation that was a fun experience. Run by twin brothers, one of whom we got to see again when he visited KC as part of a promotional tour a few months after our visit. They grow a lot of heirloom varieties. Not sure if and how they handle small groups. But probably not someplace you can just drop by, as in California.

Posted by
4211 posts

Thank you, Ann. I was completely overwhelmed with their website.

Stan, thanks! Also, I did a forum search for information and I found your book recommendation which I have already downloaded from my library!

Posted by
9 posts

You might enjoy this book that came out last year:
The New Wines of Mount Etna: An Insider's Guide to the History and Rebirth of a Wine Region, by Benjamin North Spencer. There's some good background history as well as a detailed guide to the many wineries in the area.

Posted by
4211 posts

Thanks, Lipomad! The book gets great reviews, I've requested it from my library