We did not make this trip, even though my companoion and I spent 10 days, just to the North, in Taorrmina and we have been in Ionian Sicily, as well, last year. We did, over the course of two days, spend several hours on-line, attempting to obtain needful rail and bus connections to make a "circumnavigation" of Etna on this rail line ( the website is useless ) with a planned overnight stop in Randazzo. Our best efforts yielded no reliable information. Like the "cable car" from Taormina to the beach below, no one seems to have a clue as to why it, too, is not operating. Even from the official Tourist Office there was a lack of genuine information, outside of schedules for rail and bus that lacked any reasonable daily coordination? I have run into this "problem" way too many times in Sicily, including a five year closure of the archeological museum in Palermo. I am reminded of a popular saying among the locals in Fidel's Cuba, "Nadie sabe nada!" that is, "Nobody knows nothing!" Unspoken: We do not wish to speculate. I received much the same response when I questioned the lack of a coordinated public transportation system in Messina and Catania provinces. Well, I will speculate! Applying Occum's Razor: Who might stand to profit by inefficient public travel infrastructure? Who "owns" the most direct, yet expensive means of transportation; tours and taxis? Mafia?
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