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Enjoy New Year’s Day in a special way. Or, if not that very day, enjoy the beginning of the new year 2022 with a nice experience in the snow of the woods around Ragabo Refuge. This lovely hut-shaped building, looking so much like a alpine house, fits perfectly into the high pine trees forest, in the territory of Linguaglossa (district of Catania). Ragabo Refuge is the base point for those who go exploring the pine woods or just love to stay in a warm place in the winter. Here, in fact, you can eat and even stay for the night. The prices will never be too high.

Discovering  Ragabo Refuge in winter

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photo from Rifugio Ragabo website

Ragabo Refuge is located at 1450 meters above sea level, on the coldest side of Etna, the northern flank. Here, in winter, snow can accumulate for several meters . On the roads, the ice that forms at night lasts until the early afternoon. The pine forest around, despite being a few kilometers from some of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily (Taormina, Giardini Naxos, Letojanni) takes on alpine colors, atmospheres and hues in a truly unique magic.

The refuge has existed for some time and in 1969, thanks to family management, it became much more active and lively in the Etna tourist panorama. The wooden architecture, which imitates the typical Tyrolean buildings, makes it perfectly suited to the natural environment that surrounds it. On the ground floor there are the restaurant, the bar, the kitchens and a verandah – which in summer is completed with outdoor tables.

On the first floor there are the bedrooms – both single and double, but all with no smoking rules for safety reasons – furnished in a simple very pleasant alpine style. You can stay for the night in any season, at reasonable prices (40 Euro per person for B&B accommodation, 60 Euro half board, 80 Euro full board) and it is possible to take advantage of excursions both in summer and in winter, when the surrounding landscape is snowy.

The first excursions of the year at Ragabo

If you love mountains and winter, choosing Ragabo as the ideal destination for a trip at the beginning of the year will be exciting. From here there are various ski mountaineering and cross-

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photo by G Musumeci

country skiing excursions, but also the classic “snowshoeing” that can lead you to discover the beauty of the pine forest or the expanses of lava covered with snow. For those who love more demanding skiing, snowboarding and sledding, 5 km from Ragabo you will easily find the slopes of Etna Nord, in Piano Provenzana, also equipped with an efficient chairlift.

If you are not the sporty type, however, you can still choose Ragabo for a walk in the snow. Based on the refuge, you can set off along the path of the pine forest to the “sciare” (old lava rocks), enjoying an unusually “Scandinavian” winter in the heart of the Mediterranean. Or you can just book a Sunday lunch, in the warmth of the refuge fireplace, among typical local delicacies prepared by the owners.

Around Ragabo

If you will be based for two or three days at the Ragabo refuge, you can also move to discover the beauties of the surroundings. Allow yourself to reach, with the guides,  the Sartorius craters. Go up to the rows of craters that caused the eruption that destroyed Piano Provenzana. You can also explore some caves, if properly equipped for the cold – and always accompanied by guides.

Surely from Ragabo you have to go down to Linguaglossa and admire its artistic historic center immersed in the quiet of winter. Here you can admire the murals, the ancient churches, the alleys. And taste the local specialties, especially good wine, in the trattorias for tourists. Following the Mareneve road east for 18 km, climbing over the side of Etna, you can also reach the village of Milo and its panoramic square overlooking the beaches and the sea in the distance.

Practical information on  Ragabo Refuge

To reach the refuge you can go up either from the east, from Milo, or from the north (from Taormina, Castiglione and Linguaglossa). The connecting route is the Mareneve Regional Road, in both directions. The nearest airport is “Fontanarossa”, Catania. From there, via the ring road and the A18 motorway, you exit at Acireale, Fiumefreddo or Giardini Naxos and then follow the signs for the Paesi Etnei or for Linguaglossa and Mareneve.

ATTENTION! It is mandatory and essential to have good thermal tires or be equipped with snow chains in the car, to face the ice along the bends that climb up to Ragabo.

Further information on the refuge, prices and contacts for reservations on the official website of the RIFUGIO RAGABO .

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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