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 – Monte Soprano (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we will set off at around 9.00 in the morning. From our base we will ride along a very panoramic ancient pathway (a "trazzera") which passes the boundary between the three provinces of Palermo, Enna and Messina, reaching an altitude of about 1200m, before passing below the great turbines of a wind farm. We then descend 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 3: 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 4: 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 5: Monte Colla – Malvagna (hours of riding: 8)
After breakfast, we will set off at about 8.00 in the morning. After leaving the hotel and its cherry orchards, we will enter the surrounding woods once again and descend the valley where the source of the Alcantara River is found. We will then climb up towards the town of Floresta (the highest commune on the island at 1273m), before following the crest of the nearby mountains to reach the megalithic site of Argimusco (recently added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites), where we will stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we will ride down through the centuries old wood of Malabotta to reach the typical village of Malvagna, which looks out towards Etna. We will have dinner and spend the night at the B&B Arco dei Sogni.
Day 6: Malvagna – Etna North (hours of riding: 7)
We will set off at 8.00 and ride through the village of Malvagna before descending into the valley of the Alcantara River, which we cross near the little gorges of Malvagna, before beginning the climb up the northern slopes of Mount Etna. We will stop for a picnic lunch on Mount Etna and continue to climb up through woods and lava flows until we reach the Rifugio Timpa Rossa (at 1844m). Depending on the season and the conditions, we will continue to climb up to the craters from the last major eruption of 2002. We will have dinner and spend the night at Rifugio Ragabo, immersed in a majestic forest of larix pines.
Day 7: Etna North - Castiglione di Sicilia (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast we will set off at around 9.00 in the morning. We will ride down through lava flows from various older and more recent eruptions and beautiful forests of pine, oak and chestnut, enjoying breathtaking views of the mountains of Sicily, until we reach the banks of the Alcantara River. There we will visit 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), before riding on to the medieval town of Castiglione di Sicilia. We will have dinner in the town and spend the night at Cento Tarì Guesthouse 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.
- 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