TRANSICILIAN RIDE FROM CORLEONE TO ETNA - 12 days in the saddle or choose to take part in one week ( 6 days in the saddle)
The ride is done in two stages with a rest day in-between on May 23rd:
1. Corleone to Cefalu :May 16-23, 2020
This ride takes you across some of the lesser known areas of the island, from the famous town of Corleone to the coastal resort town of Cefalù, passing through a rich variety of landscapes, from dense forests to striking mountain views and endless fields of wheat and hay. The days in the saddle are slightly shorter than the second week.
Rest day in-between also possible to transfer in and out if participating for 1 week
2. Cefalu to Mt Etna : May 23-30, 2020
This epic trail crosses the greenest and wildest part of Sicily, the so-called Val Demone, passing through the four natural parks of Madonie, Nebrodi, Alcantara and Etna. The days in the saddle are longer and more adventurous than the first week.
Rates and dates based on double occupancy
• Airport transfers from/to the nearest airport.
• 15 nights in agriturismi, B&B and good quality hotels.
• 12 days 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.
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
May 16: Arrival
After your arrival in Corleone, we will have dinner in a local restaurant and spend the night at Agriturismo Ridocco.
May 17: Corleone – Gorgo del Drago (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we will set off from Agriturismo Ridocco at around 8.30 in the morning. We will begin by crossing endless fields of wheat and hay, which remain the principal agricultural products of the island – the island has been considered an immense granary from as early as the Roman times. We will then pass through the forest reserve of Pirello, arriving after about three hours in the reserve of the Ficuzza Wood, established by the Bourbon King Ferdinand in 1799 as his personal hunting reserve, and which, extending across almost 7400 hectares, is one of Sicily's largest and best preserved natural woodlands. Here we will stop for a picnic lunch, beneath the imposing Rocca Busambra, which, measuring 1602 metres, is the highest peak in western Sicily. In the afternoon, we will continue through the reserve, which is home to a great variety of indigenous plants, including red oak, holm oak, ash and pine trees. We will then ride through the village of Ficuzza, where we will stop for a short break and you can admire the nineteenth century Royal Palace of King Ferdinand and enjoy some refreshments from a local bar. Late in the afternoon, we will arrive at the Agriturismo Gorgo del Drago on the northern edge of the reserve, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
May 18: Gorgo del Drago – Villa Dafne (hours of riding: 8)
We will have breakfast and leave Gorgo del Drago at around 8.00 in the morning. We will pass through the village of Godrano, famous for producing cheese, before continuing on towards Cefala Diana, famous for its castle of Arab origin, followed by Villafrati and then Ciminna, where the landscape is characterised by rock formations made of gypsum crystals. We will stop here for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we will continue on towards Roccapalumba, nicknamed "the town of the stars", before arriving at Villa Dafne, where we will have dinner and stay overnight.
May 19: Villa Dafne – Mandragiumenta (hours of riding: 5)
After breakfast we will leave Villa Dafne at around 8.30 in the morning, passing through arable land along royal trazzere (paths established during the Bourbon period and still used today by herds moving from the north to the south, and leaving the coast to move inland, with the changing seasons). We will then pass below the town of Alia and arrive at the caves of Gurfa, in the territory of Alia, home of the tomb of Minos, the king of Crete who came to Sicily in search of Daedalus and was killed by the trickery of the daughters of the Sicanian King Kokalo. The caves were used as a temple during the classical era, as grain stores during Roman times, as luxury lodgings during the Arab period, and as stables until 1997. Today they form part of the cultural heritage of the town of Alia. We will stop here for a picnic lunch, before continuing along the trazzere in the afternoon to the agricultural town of Valledolmo, where we will stop for a break at a local bar. We will then arrive at Mandriagiumenta, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
May 20: Mandragiumenta – Casale Drinzi (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and set off at about 8.30 in the morning, riding through fields until we reach the ancient village of Sclafani Bagni, perched on a mountain, where you can visit the ruins of the village's medieval castle and have a coffee, before continuing the trail towards the thermal spring of Sclafani Bagni. Here we will stop for a picnic lunch and you can bathe in the healing sulfuric waters. In the afternoon we will follow the route of the River Salito, a tributary of the Northern Imera River, and the western boundary of the territory of Madonie. We will have dinner and spend the night at Casale Drinzi.
May 21: Casale Drinzi – Feudo Galefona (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast we will set off at around 8.30 in the morning. This day of the trail will take us through the heart of the Madonie Natural Park, which, spanning 40000 hectares, enjoys the greatest biodiversity across the island (being home to more species than all of those in Great Britain). After leaving the agriturismo, we will begin to climb, soon reaching high altitudes where the vegetation and the landscape changes dramatically, and where we will pass through dense forests of red oak and holm oak. In the afternoon we will reach the typical medieval village of Isnello. We will have dinner and spend the night at Feudo Galefona.
May 22: Feudo Galefona – Villa Magarà (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and leave Feudo Galefona at around 8.30 in the morning, travelling towards the sea and passing through areas of great botanical and scenic interest. We will arrive at Gibilmanna in time for a picnic lunch, home of the famous shrine of Our Lady, a spiritual destination for pilgrims travelling from all over Sicily. In the afternoon, we will continue our descent and arrive at Villa Magarà, close to the historic centre of Cefalù, with a swimming pool and sea views.
May 23: Rest day
Enjoy a guided tour of the historic seaside town of Cefalù.
May 24: Cefalù – San Mauro Castelverde (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we will set off at around 8.00 in the morning and begin the trail by riding through a very scenic and varied landscape, passing cork forests, Mediterranean scrubland, vineyards, olive groves and pastures. After passing the territory of Santa Anastasia, home to an ancient Norman abbey and a renowned winery, we will continue on through the countryside and around Castelbuono, a charming medieval town steeped in history and tradition, before reaching the wild valley of the Pollina River (considered the eastern boundary of the territory of the Madonie). Here we will stop for a picnic lunch, before continuing on to the town of San Mauro Castelverde, a medieval town perched at the top of a mountain at about 1100 meters above sea level. We will visit the centre of the town before reaching Al Convento, a recently restored eighteenth century Capuchin monastery. Here, we will enjoy a hearty dinner made with typical local produce, and we will spend the night.
May 25: San Mauro Castelverde – Monte Soprano (hours of riding: 6)
From the town we will set off along an old "trazzera" (an ancient path dating back to at least the Bourbon era) with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, crossing fields of wheat and hay until we reach an altitude of approximately 1000 metres. We will then ride directly beneath the great windmills of a wind farm to reach the Malpassetto pass, which marks the border of the provinces of Palermo, Enna and Messina. We will 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 descending an old, steep path immersed in a cork forest, where we will take a break to visit a prehistoric troglodyte dwelling carved into the rocks and set over two levels. Finally, we will arrive at the agriturismo Monte Soprano, a beautiful farmhouse with a swimming pool, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
May 26: 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 Parkthrough 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 near a stream known as the Nocita. 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.
May 27: 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.
May 28: Monte Colla – Etna North (hours of riding: 7)
We will set off in the direction of the source of the Alcantara River, and continue on towards Randazzo, a typical Sicilian village between the Nebrodi and Etna Parks, which we will pass through, before ascending Etna's northern slopes, until we reach Mount Spagnolo, where we will follow the Altomontana piste to our accommodation, the Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi, immersed in an enchanting pine forest, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
May 29: Etna North - Castiglione di Sicilia (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we will set off at around 9.00 in the morning. Crossing lava flows from various older and more recent eruptions, we will climb up through forests of pine, oak and chestnut and past volcanic caves, enjoying breathtaking views of the mountains of Sicily and Calabria. Eventually we will reach the Rifugio di Timpa Rossa at an altitude of 1844 metres. Here we will stop for a picnic lunch. Depending on the season and the conditions, we may continue to climb up to the craters from the last major eruption of 2002. After a picnic lunch we will continue along small country lanes bordered by stone walls made from lava rock and paths crossing back and forth across the river before arriving at 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. Finally, we will arrive at Castiglione di Sicilia, where we will have dinner and spend the night with the beautiful memories of the trail etched in our minds for a long time to come.
May 30: Departure
After breakfast we will transfer you to the airport (or other locations on the island, as requested).