Wild Sicily - Madonie to Etna - 6 days
Day 1: Arrival
You will arrive at Casalvecchio Geraci, an old farmstead dating from the 1800s, which has been restored and transformed into an agriturismo, immersed in deep Sicily, on the border between the Madonie Park and the island's agricultural hinterland. You will enjoy a dinner prepared with local produce and spend the night here.
Day 2: Casalvecchio – San Mauro Castelverde (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we will set off at around 8.30 in the morning and begin the trail by riding along the valley of the River Pollina, along ancient "trazzere" (paths used to transport livestock dating from the Bourbon era) surrounded by fields of grain and hay, before entering a very wild area, covered in Mediterranean vegetation. We will enjoy a picnic lunch in a beautiful spot, before climbing towards the village of San Mauro Castelverde, a medieval town perched at the top of a mountain at about 1100 meters above sea level. We will have dinner and spend the night in an old Franciscan convent, which has been transformed into a hotel.
Day 3: San Mauro Castelverde – Monte Soprano (hours of riding: 6)
From our convent hotel we will set off along an old "trazzera" with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, which passes the border between the provinces of Palermo, Enna and Messina, reaching an altitude of approximately 1200 metres. We will then ride directly beneath the great windmills of a wind farm, before descending into the forests of the Sambughetti-Campanito reserve, where we will stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we will continue on to the territory of Nicosia, followed by Cerami, before arriving at the agriturismo Monte Soprano, a beautiful farmhouse with a swimming pool set on the slopes of the Nebrodi Mountains, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 4: Monte Soprano – Villa Miraglia (hours of riding: 7)
On this day of the trail we will ride through the heart of the Nebrodi Natural Park, along the famous "Dorsale" (the Nebrodi Ridge), a long dirt track (about 100 kilometres long) which passes through forests and high mountain pastures. This is a place full of charm, with extraordinary views: the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Aeolian Islands to the north, and the island's hinterland to the south – Enna, Caltanissetta, Agrigento, Siracusa, Catania, and Etna towering above everything else. We will enter the Nebrodi Natural Park through beech woods in the territory of San Fratello, famous for its sanfratellani horses, a native breed which is very strong and hardy, with a very large head, and which you may catch a glimpse of grazing in the wild. We will stop for a picnic lunch in a shaded spot beneath centuries-old trees. In the afternoon, we will arrive at the Relais Villa Miraglia, where we will have a delicious dinner made with local Nebrodi products and spend the night.
Day 5: Villa Miraglia – Monte Colla (hours of riding: 8)
This is probably the most beautiful day of the trail, riding for more than 40 kilometres along the "Dorsale" through mountains, woods and lakes, in the midst of a strikingly beautiful landscape. First we will come to the Maulazzo Lake, dominated by Monte Soro, the highest peak in the Nebrodi mountain range (at 1847 metres) and covered in magnificent beech woods. We will then reach the famous lake Biviere di Cesarò, which is a resting place for migrating birds. We will continue along the "Dorsale", with lush forests giving way to clearings with panoramic views, with the Aeolian Islands to the north and the majestic peak of Mount Etna to the south. In the evening we will arrive tired but satisfied at Monte Colla, the most isolated hotel on the island, housed in an eighteenth century aristocratic home at around 1400 metres above sea level in the territory of Randazzo. Here we will enjoy a delicious dinner prepared with local produce and spend the night.
Day 6: Monte Colla – Etna North (hours of riding: 7)
We will set off in the direction of the source of the Alcantara River, and continue on towards Randazzo, a typical Sicilian village between the Nebrodi and Etna Parks, which we will pass through, before ascending Etna's northern slopes, until we reach Mount Spagnolo, where we will follow the Altomontana piste to our accommodation, the Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi, immersed in an enchanting pine forest, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 7: Etna North - Castiglione di Sicilia (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we will set off at around 9.00 in the morning. Crossing lava flows from various older and more recent eruptions, we will climb up through forests of pine, oak and chestnut and past volcanic caves, enjoying breathtaking views of the mountains of Sicily and Calabria. Eventually we will reach the Rifugio di Timpa Rossa at an altitude of 1844 metres. Here we will stop for a picnic lunch. Depending on the season and the conditions, we may continue to climb up to the craters from the last major eruption of 2002. After a picnic lunch we will continue along small country lanes bordered by stone walls made from lava rock and paths crossing back and forth across the river before arriving at the Gorges of Castiglione and the Cuba Bizantina, a place of worship built in an unusual quadrangular shape and dating from around the seventh or eighth century AD. Finally, we will arrive at Castiglione di Sicilia, where we will have dinner and spend the night with the beautiful memories of the trail etched in our minds for a long time to come.
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast we will transfer you to the airport (or other locations on the island, as requested).
- 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