Madonie Trail - 6 days
Day 1: Arrival
You will arrive at Casalvecchio Geraci, an old farm dating from the eighteenth century which has been restored, immersed in the green hills of the River Rainò valley. Delicious dinner prepared using produce fresh from the farm and overnight at the agriturismo.
Day 2: Casalvecchio – San Mauro Castelverde (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast, you will be assigned your horse for the trail and we will leave Casalvecchio at around 8.00 in the morning. We will begin by riding along the route of the River Rainò, an affluent of the Pollina River, which marks the eastern boundary of the territory of the Madonie, and which is characterised by its wild beauty, which made the perfect hiding places for the famous bandits who ruled the area in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We will stop for a picnic lunch immersed in nature. In the afternoon, we will climb towards the medieval town of San Mauro Castelverde, which sits at more than 1000 metres above sea level, with views over the Tyrrhenian Sea. We will enjoy a dinner prepared with typical produce of the area and spend the night in an old monastery dating from the sixteenth century, which has been transformed into a hotel.
Day 3: San Mauro Castelverde – Cefalù (hours of riding: 7)
We will have breakfast and set off at around 8.00 in the morning. We will descend towards Castelbuono, the largest village in the Madonie, with around ten thousand inhabitants, and the former seat of the Ventimiglia Barons, who ruled for centuries over the entirety of the territory crossed during this trail. We will stop for a picnic lunch in the area of Castelbuono. In the afternoon we will ride towards the territory of Cefalù, passing through very wild areas covered in woods and mediterranean brush and the vineyard of Santa Anastasia. We will have dinner and spend the night at Turismo Rurale Cefalù, a beautiful hotel equipped with a swimming pool, with overlooking the sea.
Day 4: Cefalù – Casena Mongerrati (hours of riding: 6)
We will set off at about 8.30 in the morning and will begin by riding through an area covered in mediterranean brush with breathtaking views over the Tyrrhenian coast. We will arrive after a few hours at Gibilmanna, a famous sanctuary and Franciscan monastery dedicated to the Virgin, the patron and protector of the diocese of Cefalù. We will visit the sanctuary, which contains one of the most beautiful works by Gagini, a famous Renaissance Sicilian sculptor. We will then continue towards the charming medieval village of Gratteri, where we will stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we will continue the ride through the San Giorgio forest, dense with oak and durmast trees, and we will pass the ruins of the San Giorgio abbey, dating from the twelfth century, and the Madonna del Pedale, dating from the seventeenth century. Finally, we will arrive at Casena Mongerrati, equipped with a swimming pool, near Collesano, an ancient village of Arab origin (Qal'at as-sirat), where we will enjoy a delicious dinner and spend the night.
Day 5: Casena Mongerrati – Rifugio Marini (hours of riding: 5)
We will have breakfast and leave Casena Mongerrati at around 9.00 in the morning, crossing the Mugerrati forest, which is dense with cork, holm oak and durmast trees. We will ride then ride on towards Piano Zucchi, where we will stop for a picnic lunch, beneath the imposing calcium massif of Carbonara. We will continue towards Piano Cervi, immersed in thick forests of oak, which slowly give way to beech trees, and finally reach Piano Battaglia, a famous ski station at 1600 metres. We will have dinner and spend the night at the Rifugio Marini.
Day 6: Rifugio Marini – Terravecchia (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast, we will set off from Rifugio Marini at around 8.30 in the morning. We will visit the 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 7: Terravecchia – Casalvecchio (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and leave Terravecchia at around 8.30 in the morning. On this day of the trail we will ride along the southern slopes of the Madonie, 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" (old pathways used for the transport of animals and goods) through beautiful scenery. We will enjoy a delicious dinner, made from the agriturismo's own produce, and spend the night here.
Day 8: Departure
Breakfast and transfer 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 Catania - Depart Catania