Instead of climbing up Mount Etna, you can circle it on the Circumetnea, which runs near the volcano's base. The private railroad almost circles the volcano, running 114 km (71 miles) between Catania and Riposto—the towns are just 30 km (19 miles) apart by the coast road. The line is small, slow, and only single-track, but has some dramatic vistas of the volcano and goes through lava fields. The one-way trip takes about three and a half hours, with departures every 90
mins or so. After you've made the trip, you can get back to where you started from on the much quicker, but less scenic, conventional state rail service between Riposto and Catania.