Arrival at Casalvecchio, a restored nineteenth century farmhouse, which has been transformed into an agriturismo. Delicious welcome dinner prepared using local produce.
Day 2: Pollina Valley and Botindari (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast, we will set off and descend the River Pollina valley to reach a very wild area, densely covered in Mediterranean vegetation. We will stop for a picnic lunch at Botindari, a small agricultural village which is very characteristic of the local area, before riding back towards our agriturismo in the afternoon. There we will enjoy a rich dinner prepared using local produce.
Day 3: Gangi (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast we will begin the day’s ride by climbing an ancient trazzera (old paths used for transporting animals which date from the Bourbon era) in the direction of Gangi, one of Sicily’s most beautiful villages, perched on a mountaintop. We will visit the village and enjoy lunch in an agriturismo, before riding back to Casalvecchio in the afternoon.
Day 4: Local farmland (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast we will set off along old trazzere, climbing through fields of wheat and hay, before passing beneath the giant turbines of a wind farm and arriving at the so-called Rocca Monaco, on the border between the provinces of Enna, Palermo and Messina, the site of a cave that in ancient times was used to store grain, before being used as a hideout for local bandits and later the hiding place for a small group of German soldiers who put up a desperate and strenuous fight from there against the Americans during the Second World War. We will have a picnic lunch and return to our agriturismo in the afternoon.
Day 5: Geraci Siculo (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast we will set off in the direction of Geraci Siculo, one of the highest villages in the Madonie Park, and the seat of the Ventimiglia Barons, the Marchesi di Geraci, who ruled over the area for centuries. We will ride through very wild and steep terrain, through oak and ash trees, to reach the village, where we will stop for lunch. We will visit the ruins of the castle, situated in a very panoramic position, before riding back to our agriturismo in the afternoon.
Day 6: Casalvecchio Geraci – Agriturismo Gonato (hours of riding: 7)
We will set off from our base 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, where we will stop for a packed lunch. We will then begin to climb towards the high Madonie mountains, arriving in the afternoon at our accommodation for the night, Rocca di Gonato, a splendid agriturismo immersed in the unspoilt nature of the Madonie Park. Dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Agriturismo Gonato – Casalvecchio Geraci (hours of riding: 6.5)
After breakfast we will set off along a higher path, differing greatly from the day before, particularly in terms of the flora we ride through, passing through the Vicaretto forest, which is predominantly made up of durmast and holm oak trees. We will then climb over monte Catarineci, from where we can admire breath-taking views of half of Sicily and beautiful holly and beech trees. We will reach the medieval village of Geraci Siculo, where we will stop for a packed lunch. In the afternoon, we will ride back to our starting point along an ancient path immersed in dense Mediterranean vegetation.
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