Sicilian Odyssey - 12 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” - Casalvecchio (hours of riding: 7)
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, between the territories of Castelbuono, San Mauro Castelverde and Geraci Siculo. We will ride 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 3: Casalvecchio - Baglio San Pietro (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast, we will leave Casalvecchio at around 8.30 in the morning. We will begin by riding along a “trazzera” (an old pathway used for transporting goods and animals across the island) in the direction of Gangi, a hilltop town of ancient and mysterious origin. After passing below Gangi, we will ride through mountain pastures with beautiful views across the surrounding countryside, to reach the Bosco di Sperlinga, a natural forest, where we will stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we will ride on to the village of Sperlinga, a fascinating place characterised by troglodyte dwellings, some of which are still in use today, and its unique castle, which is carved into the rock. We will visit the village and its castle, before a short ride to reach Baglio San Pietro, a restored farmstead dating from the seventeenth century and equipped with a swimming pool, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 4: Baglio San Pietro - Le Querce di Cota (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we will leave Baglio San Pietro at around 8.30 in the morning. We will begin the day by descending into the valley of the Salso Cimarosa River, which we will then follow, immersed in unspoilt nature and surrounded by the impressive peaks of the Erean Mountains. We will stop for a picnic lunch and continue to follow the wild valley of the Salso Cimarosa, followed by the valley of the River Troina di Sotto, passing through the territories of Gagliano Castelferrato and Troina, historic hilltop towns of ancient origin. In the late afternoon we will arrive at Agriturismo Le Querce di Cota, a beautiful hotel with a swimming pool, where we will enjoy a delicious dinner prepared with homegrown organic produce and spend the night.
Day 5: Le Querce di Cota - Fucina di Vulcano (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and set off at about 8.30 in the morning, following the valley of the River Troina di Sotto for a few hours. We will then climb through rolling farmland before descending into the valley of the Simeto River, at the foot of the great "Montagna", majestic Mount Etna. After a picnic lunch we will ride through the territory of Bronte, famous for its pistacchio production. We will ride around the edge of the town to arrive at La Fucina di Vulcano, a high quality hotel with a swimming pool and breathtaking views of Mount Etna. Dinner and overnight.
Day 6: Fucina di Vulcano - Giardino di Efesto (hours of riding: 5)
After breakfast, we will leave La Fucina di Vulcano at around 8.30 in the morning and ride through the countryside of the territory of Bronte, before beginning our ascent on Etna's western slopes to reach the Pista Altomontana, which we will join in the vicinity of Monte Scavo and follow through forests of beech and conifer trees, crossing ancient and more recent lava flows. When visibility is good, you can enjoy breathtaking views of half of Sicily and Etna's summit from here, and it is also possible to enjoy some excellent gallops along this part of the trail. We will stop for a picnic lunch near the Galvarina refuge and arrive later in the afternoon at the Giardino di Efesto, a charming hotel immersed in the woods at 1700 metres of altitude, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 7: Giardino di Efesto - Feudo Magazzeni (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and set off at about 8:00 in the morning. We will ride through the area of Rifugio Sapienza to reach the impressive Silvestri craters, created during a major eruption at the end of the nineteenth century, and known as a "bottoniera" because they follow a fracture line like the buttons on a shirt, before descending through the area known as the Desert of Etna, so-called for its arid landscape and the absence of pathways that cross through it. We will then ride through woods of oak, green oak and chestnut trees, before arriving in the territory of Zafferana Etnea, famous for producing honey, before continuing on to our next accommodation, Feudo Magazzeni, a beautiful historic property, recently restored, in the territory of Sant'Alfio. Dinner and overnight.
Day 8: Rest day
A rest day for horses and riders. It is possible to book an excursion to the summit of Mount Etna (by jeep and on foot) or an Etna doc wine-tasting.
Day 9: Feudo Magazzeni - Clan dei Ragazzi (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and set off at about 8.30 in the morning, beginning the day by climbing Etna's north-eastern side through forests of green oak (quercus ilex), amongst which we will find the famous Ilici du Carrinnu, a green oak which is centuries-old and of enormous dimensions. We will then ride along the edge of the Valle del Bove, a famous depression in the landscape into which flows the lava from almost all of the eruptions from Etna's southeast crater, the highest and most active of the volcano's craters. After a picnic lunch, we will climb to reach the impressive Sartorius craters, created during a major lateral eruption in 1865, before riding on through forests of birch, beech and larix pines, to the area of Piano Provenzana. Here we will begin to follow a series of pathways through a lunar landscape and pass through the site of Etna's last great lateral eruption in October 2002. We will ride along the 2002 lateral craters and pass Monte Nero and the Timpa Rossa refuge, immersed in enchanting beech woods, before crossing the 1928 lava flow to arrive at the Ragabo pine forest with its giant larix pines, in the midst of which sits Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 10: Clan dei Ragazzi - Hotel Nebrodi (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we will set off at around 8.30 and begin the day following the Pista Altomontana until we reach the area of Monte Spagnolo, riding through very panoramic areas, including the lava flow from 1981 and its "Hornitos" (small holes that opened up during the eruption, whose name derives from the Spanish word for little ovens). We will then begin our descent on Etna's northwest slopes, riding through beautiful forests, to reach Randazzo, a famous a historic town, which we will ride through before beginning to climb Monte Colla, the first mountain in the chain of the Nebrodi peaks on the eastern side. In the late afternoon we will arrive at Hotel Nebrodi, the most isolated hotel on the island, housed in an eighteenth century aristocratic home. Here we will enjoy a delicious dinner prepared with local produce and spend the night.
Day 11: Hotel Nebrodi - Villa Miraglia (hours of riding: 7)
We will have breakfast and set off at around 8.30, riding for the full day within the Nebrodi Park. From Monte Colla we will reach the famous "Dorsale" (a pathway following the ridge of the Nebrodi Mountains), which we will follow for almost 40km in the midst of a strikingly beautiful landscape, with lush forests giving way to clearings with panoramic views, glimpsing the Aeolian Islands to the north and the majestic peak of Mount Etna to the south. We will pass the lakes of Cartolari and Biviere, a resting place for migrating birds, and finally Lake Maulazzo, dominated by Monte Soro, the highest peak in the Nebrodi mountain range (at 1847 metres), covered in magnificent beech woods. Finally we will reach Villa Miraglia, a charming hotel in the very heart of the Nebrodi Park, where we will enjoy a rich dinner and spend the night.
Day 12: Villa Miraglia - Monte Soprano (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast, we will set off at about 8.00 in the morning and continue to follow the Dorsale through forests of beech and oak. In the afternoon, we will begin our descent from the Nebrodi Mountains, following wild and forgotten pathways, with spectacular views towards the centre of the island. In the late afternoon we will reach Monte Soprano, in the territory of Cerami, a large working farm and agriturismo equipped with a swimming pool, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 13: Monte Soprano - Al Convento (hours of riding: 7)
We will set off at 8.30 and leave the Nebrodi Park behind, entering the Sambughetti-Campanito Reserve, in the territory of Nicosia (province of Enna). As we leave the reserve we will stop for a picnic lunch, before riding on beneath the huge turbines of a wind farm, with breathtaking views of the island's north coast and the Madonie Mountains. In the afternoon we will arrive at the picturesque medieval village of San Mauro Castelverde, where we will have dinner and spend the night in a former Capuchin monastery transformed into a hotel.
Day 14: Al Convento - Casa "Il Bosco" (hours of riding: 7)
We will have breakfast and set off at about 8.30, beginning the day by descending into the wild and beautiful valley of the River Pollina. After crossing the river we will stop for a picnic lunch near Castelbuono, before returning to the territory of Cefalù, where our adventure comes to an end where it began, at Casa "Il Bosco". Dinner and overnight.
Day 15: Departure
Breakfast and transfer to the airport.
- Airport transfers from/to the nearest airport.
- 14 nights in agriturismi, B&B and good quality hotels.
- 12 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