Madonie Trail - 4 days
Arrival at Agriturismo Casalvecchio, a nineteenth century farm, which has been restored and transformed into an agriturismo, immersed in deep Sicily, on the boundary between the Madonie Park and the island’s agricultural hinterland. Delicious dinner prepared with local produce and overnight.
Day 2: Agriturismo Casalvecchio - Castelbuono (hours of riding: 7)
We will set off from our base, Agriturismo Casalvecchio, at around 9.00 in the morning, riding along an ancient “trazzera” which follows the valley of the rivers Rainò and Calabrò, tributaries of the River Pollina, on the eastern boundary of the Madonie Park. We will then ride along paths through a wild and unspoilt area to reach the territory of Castelbuono, a town of medieval origin which was once the seat of the Ventimiglia Barons, one of the island's most important aristocratic families. We will have a picnic lunch before continuing the ride to arrive in the town in the afternoon. Free time to visit the town's historic centre and castle. We will enjoy a rich dinner in a local restaurant and spend the night at the hotel Paradiso delle Madonie.
Day 3: Castelbuono - Rifugio Marini (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast, we will begin by climbing towards Piano Pomo, famous for its giant holly trees, before continuing to the massif of Carbonara, Sicily’s second highest peak after Mount Etna (at 1979 metres). Here, we can often spot wild deer grazing and when the weather is clear, we can admire breath-taking views of the northern side of the Madonie Park and the Tyrrhenian Coast. We will stop for a packed lunch in the heart of the Madonie Park and arrive late in the afternoon at Piano Battaglia (a ski station during winter months), where we will find our accommodation for the night, Rifugio Marini. Dinner and overnight.
Day 4: Rifugio Marini - Terravecchia (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast, we will set off from Rifugio Marini at around 8.30 in the morning and ride to the valley of Battaglietta, a depression in the landscape where all of the meltwater gathers and then travels along underground tunnels to Cefalù. We will then ride through the Vallone Madonna degli Angeli to admire the last remaining examples of the Nebrodi fir (abies nebrodensis), the symbol of the park. We will continue to the sanctuary of Madonna dell'Alto (at 1819 metres) – when visibility is good, you can enjoy views of most of the island from here. We will then descend towards our agriturismo, Terravecchia, in the territory of Castellana Sicula, where you can enjoy a swim in the pool with wonderful views towards Sicily's enchanting hinterland. Here we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 5: Terravecchia - Casalvecchio (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and leave Terravecchia at around 9.00 in the morning. On this day of the trail we will ride along the southern slopes of the Madonie mountains, famous since time immemorial for the production of wheat and hay, the island's primary agricultural resource, and the reason why Sicily was once known as "Rome's granary", as well as constituting the island's main source of nourishment. We will pass through Petralia Soprana, nominated the most beautiful village in Italy in 2018, and return in the afternoon to our base, agriturismo Casalvecchio Geraci, after riding along "trazzere" through beautiful scenery. We will enjoy a delicious dinner, made from the agriturismo's own produce, and spend the night here.
Breakfast and transfer to the airport.
- Airport transfers from/to the nearest airport.
- 5 nights in agriturismi, B&B and good quality hotels.
- 4 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 Catania - Depart Catania