Madonie Mountains - 6 days
Day 1: Arrival
You will arrive at Casa "Il Bosco", a charming restored nineteenth century country house, immersed in the wild countryside of the Madonie Park, with breathtaking views of the island's north coast and the Aeolian Islands. You will enjoy a dinner prepared with local produce and spend the night here.
Day 2: Casa "Il Bosco" – Gole di Tiberio (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast, you will be assigned your horse for the trail and we will leave Casa "Il Bosco" at around 8.30 in the morning. We will begin the day riding through dense mediterranean vegetation with beautiful views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. We will reach Castelbuono, the largest town 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 have a picnic lunch in the shadow of the town's famous castle, before enjoying a short visit of the historic centre. In the afternoon we will ride on through olive groves and woodland to reach the wild valley of the River Pollina. We will enjoy a rich dinner and spend the night at the Agricampeggio Gole di Tiberio, perched above the UNESCO Tiberio Gorges and with beautiful views along the valley.
Day 3: Gole di Tiberio – Casalvecchio (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and set off at around 8.30 in the morning. We will begin the day descending into the River Pollina, with beautiful views towards the high Madonie Mountains. On this day of the trail we will follow the River Pollina valley, one of the most fascinating, wild, panoramic and least known areas of Sicily, between the territories of Castelbuono, San Mauro Castelverde and Geraci Siculo. We will stop for a picnic lunch and continue along enchanting and forgotten pathways to reach Agriturismo Casalvecchio. Our guests will spend the night here and enjoy a delicious dinner prepared with produce straight from the farm.
Day 4: Casalvecchio – Rifugio Marini (hours of riding: 7)
We will set off at about 8.30 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 shepherd's tracks through a wild and unspoilt area to reach the territory of Petralia Soprana, a town of medieval origin and the highest in the province of Palermo, from where we can admire beautiful views across most of Sicily. We will have a picnic lunch in the woods, before continuing to climb into the high Madonie Mountains, reaching Portela Mandarini, an important crossroad between ancient transhumance routes through the mountains. We will ride along paths and lanes through the park to arrive in the afternoon at Piano Battaglia. We will enjoy a rich dinner prepared with local produce and spend the night at Rifugio Marini.
Day 5: Rifugio Marini – Giardino Donna Lavia (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 the territory of Polizzi Generosa, an important historical town, before continuing on to Giardino Donna Lavia, which dates back to the fourteenth century and historically served as a watch tower, a monastery and a noble residence. Here we will enjoy a sumptuous dinner and spend the night.
Day 6:Giardino Donna Lavia – Casena Mongerrati (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast, we will set off from Giardino Donna Lavia at around 8.30 in the morning. We will begin the day climbing up through forests of oak into the high Madonie Mountains to reach Portella Colla and Piano Cervi, an area of outstanding beauty where we will often spot wild deer. We will stop for a packed lunch amidst the forests of Monte Cervi before descending through wild and rocky terrain into the territory of Collesano, an ancient village of Arab origin (Qal'at as-sirat). Finally, we will arrive at Casena Mongerrati, equipped with a swimming pool, where we will enjoy a delicious dinner and spend the night.
Day 7: Casena Mongerrati – Casa "Il Bosco" (hours of riding: 7)
We will have breakfast and leave Casena Mongerrati at around 8.30 in the morning, crossing the Mugerrati forest, which is dense with cork, holm oak and durmast trees. We will ride on towards the territory of Isnello and stop for a picnic lunch, before climbing through the woods to reach the famous Sanctuary of Gibilmanna, a church 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 continue through dense mediterranean vegetation, with beautiful views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Aeolian Islands to return to our base, Casa "Il Bosco", where we will enjoy a delicious dinner and spend the night.
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 Palermo - Depart Palermo