Corleone-Madonie - 6 days
Day 1: Arrival
After the transfer from the airport, you will arrive at Agriturismo Ridocco, a typical farmstead of the Corleone area, set amongst wheat fields and olive groves. Dinner and overnight.
Day 2: Agriturismo Ridocco - Gorgo del Drago (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we will set off from Corleone at around 8.30 in the morning. We will begin by crossing endless fields of wheat and hay, which remain the principal agricultural products of the island – the island has been considered an immense granary from as early as the Roman times. After about three hours, we will arrive at the reserve of the Ficuzza Wood, established by the Bourbon King Ferdinand in 1799 as his personal hunting reserve, and which, extending across almost 7400 hectares, is one of Sicily's largest and best preserved natural woodlands. Here we will stop for a picnic lunch, beneath the imposing Rocca Busambra, which, measuring 1602 metres, is the highest peak in western Sicily. In the afternoon, we will continue through the reserve, which is home to a great variety of indigenous plants, including red oak, holm oak, ash and pine trees. We will then ride through the village of Ficuzza, where we will stop for a short break and you can admire the nineteenth century Royal Palace of King Ferdinand and enjoy some refreshments from a local bar. Late in the afternoon, we will arrive at the Agriturismo Gorgo del Drago on the northern edge of the reserve, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 3: Gorgo del Drago - Villa Dafne (hours of riding: 8)
We will have breakfast and leave Gorgo del Drago at around 8.00 in the morning. We will pass through the village of Godrano, famous for producing cheese, before continuing on towards Cefala Diana, famous for its castle of Arab origin, followed by Villafrati and then Ciminna, where the landscape is characterised by rock formations made of gypsum crystals. We will stop here for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we will continue on towards Roccapalumba, nicknamed "the town of the stars", before arriving at Villa Dafne, equipped with a swimming pool, where we will have dinner and stay overnight.
Day 4: Villa Dafne - Mandragiumenta (hours of riding: 5)
After breakfast we will leave Villa Dafne at around 8.30 in the morning, passing through arable land along royal "trazzere" (paths established during the Bourbon period and still used today by herds moving from the north to the south, and leaving the coast to move inland, with the changing seasons). We will then pass below the town of Alia and arrive at the caves of Gurfa, home of the tomb of Minos, the king of Crete who came to Sicily in search of Daedalus and was killed by the trickery of the daughters of the Sicanian King Kokalo. The caves were used as a temple during the classical era, as grain stores during Roman times, as luxury lodgings during the Arab period, and as stables until 1997. Today they form part of the cultural heritage of the town of Alia. We will stop here for a picnic lunch, before continuing along the "trazzere" in the afternoon to the agricultural town of Valledolmo. We will then arrive at Agriturismo Mandragiumenta, with a swimming pool, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 5: Mandragiumenta - Terravecchia (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and set off at about 8.30 in the morning, riding through fields in the valley of the Northern Imera River, the northwestern boundary of the Madonie mountains. We will stop for a picnic lunch at Polizzi Generosa, an ancient village with breathtaking views over the high Madonie mountains and the River Imera valley. In the afternoon, we will continue towards Agriturismo Terravecchia, in the territory of Castellana Sicula, equipped with a swimming pool with panoramic views of the Sicilian hinterland. Here we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 6: Terravecchia - Rifugio Marini (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast we will set off at around 8.30 in the morning. This day of the trail will take us through the heart of the Madonie Natural Park, which, spanning 40,000 hectares, enjoys the greatest biodiversity across the island (being home to more species than all of those in Great Britain). After leaving the agriturismo, we will begin to climb, soon reaching high altitudes where the vegetation and the landscape change dramatically, and where we will pass through dense forests of red oak and holm oak. In the afternoon we will arrive at Piano Battaglia, the only ski station in the province of Palermo. We will have dinner and spend the night at Rifugio Marini.
Day 7: Rifugio Marini - Casalvecchio (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and set off from Rifugio Marini at around 8.30 in the morning. This is the second day of the trail in the Madonie Park. The ride will begin by passing through areas of great botanical and scenic interest. We will ride through very wild territories and stop for a picnic lunch in the area of Geraci Siculo, before descending to our base, Agriturismo Casalvecchio, on the eastern limit of the Madonie Park. Our guests will spend the night here and enjoy a delicious dinner prepared with produce straight from the farm.
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport.
- Airport transfers from/to the nearest airport.
- 7 nights in agriturismi, B&B and good quality hotels.
- 6 full days of riding.
- All meals from dinner on the day of arrival to breakfast on the day of departure.
- Luggage transfer by support vehicle each day.
Level: Comfortable at all three paces (walk, trot and canter), with experience of hacking out in the open.
Group size: Ten people maximum.
Key information/requirements: Between six and eight hours in the saddle per day. You must be comfortable at all three paces (walk, trot and canter) and physically fit. This programme is aimed at intermediate and advanced riders and it is not suitable for beginners or riders with only limited experience. The terrain is varied and there may be long trots and gallops along the way.
Equipment: It is possible to hire riding hats and chaps on site. The following items are essential: waterproofs, layers (it can be cold at altitude), boots and chaps, and sun cream.
Accommodation: Agriturismi, B&B or good quality hotels.
Meals: Evening meals consist of authentic Sicilian cuisine prepared with local produce. A typical evening meal will include: a variety of starters, a pasta course, a meat/main course, dessert, wine, water and a digestif. Picnic lunches are provided by support vehicle (together with tables, chairs and cutlery) and include: fresh bread, salads, cheeses, olives, charcuterie, Sicilian specialities, wine or other drinks on request, coffee or tea.
Tack: Comfortable English saddles, with a sheepskin cover, or Western saddles on request. Guests are not required to groom or tack up the horses.
Languages spoken: English, French, Italian, Sicilian.
Airport: Arrive Palermo - Depart Palermo