Wild Sicily - Madonie to Etna - 6 days

Wild Sicily - Madonie to Etna - 6 days
An epic trail, which crosses the greenest and wildest part of Sicily, setting off from the northern Madonie Mountains in the territory of Cefalù and crossing the wooded Nebrodi Mountains to arrive at Mount Etna, one of the world's most active volcanoes.

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 – Monte Soprano (hours of riding: 7)

After breakfast we will set off at around 8.30 in the morning. We will ride through the village of San Mauro Castelverde before following 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 working farm 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)

On this day of the trail we will ride 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 – Arco dei Sogni (hours of riding: 6)

After breakfast, we will set off at about 9.00 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 continue through beautiful woodland to reach the village of Santa Domenica di Vittoria, where we will stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we will descend once again into the Alcantara Valley, riding through fields, vines and fruit orchards, to reach the typical village of Malvagna, perched on the slopes opposite Mount Etna. We will have dinner and spend the night at the B&B Arco dei Sogni.

Day 7: Arco dei Sogni – Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi (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 Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi, immersed in a majestic forest of larix pines.

Day 8: Departure

After breakfast we will transfer you to the airport.

Key information
Riding Experience: Advanced
For a shared room: €1900.00 per person
For a single room: €2160.00 per person
15 June - 22 June 2024: 2 place(s) available
24 August - 31 August 2024: Fully booked
12 October - 19 October 2024: Fully booked
24 May - 31 May 2025: Fully booked
5 July - 12 July 2025: 2 place(s) available
23 August - 30 August 2025: 10 place(s) available
11 October - 18 October 2025: Fully booked
What's included
  •  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 Catania