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Teatro Greco Syracusa


Travel to Mount Etna on the whiff of the bus drivers oily Rag!


 Travelling to Mount Etna is a great trip, but it can cost you a packet if you take the tour using a tour Company with a guide, we were quoted 219 euro for two for the day Trvelling from Syracuse in Sicily. You can make it cheaper if you go from Taomina where the average price for two is 66 euro.


Here is how to do the trip starting at 6 euro!


Mount Etna itself is an active volcano not really a mountain at all, the last eruption was in 2008 and the lava cools pretty quickly, so don't expect to see any fireworks display. Still the trip is stunning.


Etna itself is a world heritage listed site and is situated in a park area in between Catarnia in the south and Taormina in the North. Catrania is a commercial port town with very little going for it as a destination, so don't plan to spend any time there trying to see the sights. However you will need to travel there to take the trip. There are basically two trips, one is a train journey that skirts around the base of eta in a circular route, stopping at various towns on the way, a list of towns are shown below.


This trip is well worth taking if you are not too active and want an easy sightseeing tour with visits to some pretty local towns on route. However I recommend the second option which is a bus which takes you to a small village called Ripenzo which is situated at 2900 metres above sea level about just over half way up the mountain.


There is only one bus per day which leaves from the AST bus stop outside the railway station. It is a white AST bus and it leaves at 8-30 in the morning and returns at 4-30 in the afternoon, this is the bus to catch. You will need to purchase your tickets from the tabachi on the main road opposite the AST bus station, it is in Via Luis Revenga and you need to buy AST tickets to go from Catania to S. Ripenzo. Then go to the bus departure point around 8-15 am. There is absolutely no information regarding this bus at the bus station, but it is a white AST bus which should Say Etna at the bottom of the front windscreen.


If you cannot see the destination on the bus ask the AST Driver for Etna at S. Ripenzo, make sure you don't just say Etna or he will send you on a wild goose chase to the Etna bus lines office a few streets back.


The journey takes about 2 hours with a mysterious 20 minute stop in Nicolosi, still you can stretch your legs here. Upon arrival at S. Ripenzo jump off the bus.


From here you have two options. There is a cabin situated right next to the spot where you get off the bus, which offers long walking excursions up the mountain taking about 5 hours, they call it the long tour. If you are game take this one, but prepared there is about 2 hours of stiff walking and it gets pretty cold up there, so take warm clothes and ladies, no high heels, you need walking boots for this one.


If you do not have suitable clothes they will charge you for the hire. The trip costs 50 euro 60 if you hire the clothes.


The tour consists of a cable car up to 3100 metres then by jeep plus a 2 hour walk up to a crater nera the summit at 3300 metres. Unless there has been a recent eruption, you are unlikely to see any action, not even smouldering.


The next option they call the short tour, for this one you have to walk up to the cable car start point which is obvious to see, up the hill at the back of the excursion cabin. From here you can take the cable car for the short trip up to a plateau at 3100 metres which costs 27 euro or you can take the cable car plus Jeep and guide for a short trip up the mountain which will cost you 51 euro.


 My pick is none of these, for free you can see breathtaking views of the craters and surrounding scenery. From the excursion office, start walking around the road so that all the souvenir shops are to your right and you can see ahead of you the Silvestri bar and Bistro.


Keep walking and just as you reach the bar, round the back you will see a nice short walk up the hill to the Silvestri crater. You can skirt the rim and check out the styunning view.


From here come back down to the bar and walk back about 20 metres in the direction of the excursion cabin. on you right you will see a sign for the 2001 crater, follow this sign up the hill for a 20 minute walk to the top, turn right and follow the track up to the outcrop of rock at the top, look over to your right for breathtaking views of the Silvestri crater and surrounding scenery. From here you can see numerous tracks lead off into the distance, you can easily spend a few hours here hiking to the various craters, take care though to log your route back as after a while the tracks look all the same, so don't get lost.


Watch out for a view of the cottage buried in lava!


A great time can be spent here, just make sure to make it back to the bus stop for around three. If you look to the right of the souvenir shops there is a self service bar where you can buy lunch pretty cheaply, beware the other bars charge like wounded bulls, so be sure to check prices


Remember the bus leaves at 4-30 pm sharp and there is only one bus, so make sure you are on it.




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