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" - Al Convento (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast we will assign your horse and set off from Casa "Il Bosco" at around 8.30. We will begin the day riding through dense mediterranean vegetation with beautiful views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. We will pass close to the town of Castelbuono and stop for a picnic lunch, before riding up the valley of the River Pollina, one of the most fascinating, wild, panoramic and least known areas of Sicily. We will then climb towards San Mauro Castelverde, a medieval mountain village at more than 1000m altitude, riding along enchanting and forgotten pathways, to reach Al Convento, a former monastery dating from the 16th century and transformed into a quality hotel. Our guests will spend the night here and enjoy a delicious dinner prepared with local produce.
Day 3: Al Convento - 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 from the town into the River Pollina Valley, and then continue along the valley through a wild area of rare natural beauty. We will stop for a picnic lunch at an old and remote abandoned farmstead and continue along enchanting and forgotten pathways to reach Agriturismo Casalvecchio, on the boundary between the wild territory of the Madonie Park and the endless cultivated fields of Sicily's interior. 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 9 in the morning, riding along an ancient “trazzera” which follows the valley of the river Rainò, tributary of the River Pollina, on the eastern boundary of the Madonie Park. We will then ride through a wild and unspoilt area to arrive below Geraci Siculo, a medieval hilltop town, and one of the highest in the province of Palermo, from where we can admire spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. 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: Pizzo Carbonara - Vallone Madonna degli Angeli (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast, we will begin by climbing towards Pizzo Carbonara, Sicily’s second highest peak after Mount Etna (at 1979 metres), where we can often spot wild deer and goats grazing, and when the weather is clear, we can admire breathtaking views of some of Sicily's highest summits, including Etna to the east, Rocca Busambra to the west, Monte Cammarata to the south, and the Aeolian Islandsto the north. We will stop for a picnic lunch beneath the imposing Serra della Quacella, an area home to a number of endemic species, before continuing the ride in the heart of the Madonie Park, through the valley of Madonna degli Angeli, where you can admire some of the most beautiful examples the Nebrodi fir (abies nebrodensis), the symbol of the park, which was long thought to be extinct before being rediscovered by some botanists in this precise area several decades ago. We will return for a second night to Rifugio Marini.
Day 6: Rifugio Marini - Casale Drinzi (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast, we will set off from Rifugio Marini at around 8.30 in the morning and ride to the valley of Battaglietta, a depression in the landscape where all of the meltwater gathers and then travels along underground tunnels to Cefalù. We will then ride across the second highest peak of the Madonie Mountains, Monte Cervi (1794 metres), rich in biodiversity, before beginning our descent towards the typical medieval Madonie village of Collesano. Dinner and overnight at Casale Drinzi.
Day 7: Casale Drinzi - Casa "Il Bosco" (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and leave Casale Drinzi at around 9.00 in the morning. We will spend the morning riding on the northern slopes of Pizzo Dipilo, with breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Coast towards Palermo. We will ride through the San Giorgio woods, consisting mainly of cork and green oak trees, and pass the San Giorgio Abbey, founded by monks in the 12th century (when Sicily was under Norman rule). We will then ride on to the picturesque medieval village of Gratteri, nestled between rocky peaks, before reaching the Sanctuary of Gibilmanna, dedicated to the Madonna (the protector of the diocese of Cefalù), where we will stop for our final picnic lunch. In the afternoon we will return to Casa "Il Bosco" following a very panoramic and beautiful pathway. We will enjoy a delicious dinner and spend the night here.
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