Coast to Coast Trail
Sicily Italy: (IT-ITSIC02)
The island of Sicily embodies the best of Italy; glorious landscapes, quaint coastal towns plus exquisite food and wine, all surrounded by centuries of history. Riding is an amazing way to explore places both near and far - it allows you to travel places no car can ever reach. The horse will take you anywhere from the snowy peaks of the Nebrodi to the sunny beaches of Sicily’s coast. This magnificent trail explores four Sicilian parks including: Madonie, Nebrodi, Etna and Alcantara.
We take you on an evocative ride through an island characterized by a diverse history; a unique blend of cultures and traditions that have been evolving continuously since the Ancient times. Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans all have had their influence on the towns and villages in this distinctive region of Italy. We will follow the “Royal Trazzera” by horseback into the park of Madonie and use the trails left long ago by the Sicilian cowboys of the past to drive their herds to seasonal pastures. The Madonie park was formalized in 1988 to protect the local wildlife and flora, like the nearly extinct Nebrodi fir tree, that has developed over centuries of remote island life; within this wilderness are hidden many remote villages that can be traced back to medieval times. We ride on to Nebrodi, a park boasting 745 miles of mountain terrain comprised of sandstone, clay and limestone rock and 50% of the Sicilian forestland, making it truly the green heart of the island. Next, we are en route to the park of Alcantara, contrasting from the previous two with 25 miles of flowing water amidst castles and stunning lava gorges. The word Alcantara is Arabic in origin; the park was named after a Roman bridge found by the Arabs who had inhabited the area before the Norman reign. Onward, we ride to the infamous Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano of Europe. The fertile volcanic soils in the land surrounding Mt Etna creates a thriving natural ecosystem of both plants and animals, while also supporting extensive vineyards and orchards of the local people. Steeped in a distinguished history, here in Sicily you will find landscapes, castles and monasteries, and people that are individual in character in respect to the rest of the country. Come discover the exclusive flavor and flare of the Mediterranean’s largest island.
The diversity and beauty of Sicily is such that German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote:
"To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything."
The Coast to Coast Trail in Sicily offers the chance to explore a diverse area on horseback while discovering all the charms of the region’s culture, food, and wine while resting in villas, B&Bs, hotels and farms.
Accommodations along the 7 night trail are in comfortable hotels, agritourismo farms and a B&B guesthouse. All meals are provided during the riding tour from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8.
Day 1: Relais Santa Anastasia, Castelbuono
Day 2: Agriturismo Casalvecchio Geraci
Day 3: Agriturismo La Sugherita
Day 4: Rifugio del Parco
Day 5: B&B in Florest (to be decided!)
Day 6: Casal Vecchio Torchio
Day 7: Casal Vecchio Torchio
-- lodgings are subject to changes
This trip includes
and can accommodate special dietary requests.
In Sicily, the interest in horse breeding has always had a significant importance.
The horses are bred by the The Knights of the Two Parks. They are Sicilian-native Arabs, Andalusian and Sanfratelliani, trained with a good attitude for long distance rides. All of them are more than 4 years old.
You need to have a strong intermediate riding level - comfortable in all gaits. You should be able to sit on horseback for up to 8 hours, with a considerable physical effort.
Clothing for a week in all weather conditions is required.
Instructor Manuele Coco, 23 years old from Cefalù, young talent in Sicilian equitation and manager of the riding school, expert rider, 1st grade F.I.S.E., certificate of accompanist released from FITETREC ANTE, competing at Type C national of showjumping.
Guide Luciano Ferrigno, 33 years old from Tusa, good experience in the field of equitation, owner & breeder of Indigen-Sicilian and Andalusian horses.
Guide Carmelo Rocca, 35 years old, considered "the man" of incredible trail rides, excellent experience as a rider, guide, has certificate of farrier released by CE.FO.P.
Day 1: Arrival and accommodation in hotel, Relais Santa Anastasia. Evening dinner with a briefing and outline of the main features of the trip. Transfers if requested, available from Catania as well as Palermo
Day 2: Santa Anastasia to Gangi
After breakfast horses and saddles will be assigned, information about the main characteristics of horses will be provided and equipment will be checked.The beginning of our journey will start at the rise along the banks of the river Pollina until we arrive in the ancient agricultural village of Botindari, where we expect to have a short break for lunch and a good drink of pure spring water.After our refreshments we will continue to follow the river until we arrive at the farm ‘Casalvecchio Geraci’ in the afternoon. A splendid, recently restored farmhouse on the banks of the river surrounded by the typical Sicilian countryside planted with grain.Here we will enjoy a hearty dinner of local products, freshly picked, straight to the consumer.
Day 3: Gangi to Capizzi
From a farm walk along an ancient road through highly scenic fields of grain we will head up to an altitude of one thousand meters before moving just below the giant blades of a wind farm and reach Malpassetto, where the borders of the provinces of Palermo, Enna and Messina meet Horse riding in Sicily. The best way to discover it. We will then enter the reserve forests of Sambughetti-Campanito where we will picnic to celebrate our arrival in the territory of Nicosia. Here, if conditions are ideal, we can begin to glimpse Mount Etna. We will continue for a couple of miles along the road from Nicosia to Mistretta before we take an old path surrounded by a forest of cork oaks, which will bring us close to the ‘La Sugherita’, for our third night. Here you can choose to take a short hike to a prehistoric cave-dwelling.
Day 4: Capizzi to the territory of San Fratello
With the third stage perhaps begins the real adventure. We enter it in the heart of the park Nebrodi, along the famous ridge Nebrodi, the mountain range which runs along a dirt road for about a hundred kilometers of high mountain forests and pastures. A place full of charm and extraordinary views. When conditions are right we can overlook the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north with a beautiful view of the Aeolian Islands and south with the Sicilian inland views from Agrigento to Catania to Ragusa, with Etna looming over everything. At this stage we enter the territory of San Fratello, the territory of the famous horses ‘sanfratellani’, a native breed known for their strength, endurance, and large head. Here it is possible to see them grazing in the wild. Lunch will be had in a small clearing in the shade of some trees. We will expect to arrive at our hotel in the afternoon, Rifugio del Parco. Here we will take part in another impressive Sicilian dinner of local Nebrodi produce. Although San Fratello is an interesting town we will not pass through there on this journey, planning rather to travel through the surrounding territory.
Day 5: Territory of San Fratello to Floresta
This stage stretches for 40 kilometers through mountain forests and lakes, where we can feel a sense of no longer being in dry Sicily but instead in the green of the Swiss Alps. Here we come to the lake Maulazzo, dominated by Mount Soro, the highest peak of Nebrodi, with slopes covered by magnificent beech woods, past the lake Biviere of Cesaro, a resting place for migratory wildlife. We will continue along the ridge, where alternate lush forests give way to panoramic glades, where we hope to see the Aeolian islands to the north and the imposing peak of Etna to the south. In the evening we are likely to arrive tired but satisfied in Floresta, about 1300 meters above sea level. Another typical Sicilian meal will help rejuvinate us and we can taste Ciccio’s local specialties at the restaurant where we will have dinner. Horse riding in Sicily. The best way to discover it. We will spend the night in nice b&b in the town of Floresta.
Day 6: Floresta to Castiglione
On this day the park of Nebrodi will be left behind us and we will begin the descent towards the slopes of Etna after crossing the valley of Roccella (a tributary of the river Alcantara), where we will pause for a picnic. The path continues along the Alcantara Valley and we will arrive in the territory of Castiglione di Sicilia (Catania province) where we will find our farmhouse, ‘Al Vecchio Torchio del Casale’, just below the slopes Etna.
Day 7: Castiglione to Etna North
After passing through a rich agricultural area characterised by crops of peaches, almonds, olives, vineyards and stone walls of lava stone. We then enter the park of Etna, through lava flows of recent and not so recent eruptions, 10 to 100 years old. Fantastic forests of pine, oak and chestnut trees dominate this area along with caves and breathtaking views. At 1500 meters we arrive at Ragabo refuge where we can take our lunch break before continuing to climb through pine forest to Piano Provenzano (1800 meters). Depending on the season, weather and volcanic conditions, we could climb to the craters of the great eruption of 2001. At the end of the last day we will bring you to "Al Vecchio Torchio Del Casale”, where you will spend the night after and good dinner.
--Subject to changes.
Rates and Dates for Coast to Coast Trail
Accommodations, all meals, support vehicle, 6 riding days. <
Transfer and Other Options:
Transfer from Cefalu is included - tour ends in Catania
Transfer from Palermo to Cefalu one way per person
- to be paid locally
Transfer from Catania to Palermo - one way per person
- to be paid locally
Additional dates are available on request.
Rates do not include:
Bottled wines and spirits.
Meeting: Cefalu - ends in Etna
Airport: Palermo, Catania
Transfer: Cefalu - drop off Catania
March: On the
coast the winter is truly over, with wild flowers starting in abundance, the
days lengthening and the average temperatures making warm clothes decidedly
uncomfortable. Inland the farmers start preparing the land, tending the vines
and planting the grain.
April: The wild
flowers begin to truly explode all over Sicily and on the coast swimmers start
taking to the waters (though the water is still very fresh). The interior is now
warming up fast and the array of colours is spectacular. It’s well worth making
a trip just to experience the Easter processions, bringing together folklore and
tradition in an incredibly mystic way.
interior of Sicily is spectacular, with mountain slopes exploding in colour and
the temperatures ideal for walking. The temperatures on the coast and in the
islands will now be ideal. If you’re lucky, you might get to witness the
“mattanza” or tuna harvest in the fishing towns all over the western part of the
June: The first
smells of summer waft through the island and the strong colours on the coast and
the lower plains succumb to the bleaching rays of the sun. This is probably the
perfect time for walking in the higher mountains. The temperatures everywhere
are generally agreeable, though the Sirocco wind can send them soaring for a few
days. The sea is warm but the beaches are still deserted, except at weekends
when the first Sicilians start to brave the waters. The fruit trees are laden
with cherries, plums and the local speciality "gelsi".
July: The sea
becomes the focus for most Sicilians (and visitors) and the major resorts
testify to the glorious temperatures and sea conditions. Do not shy from the
interior though, where the walking is wonderful and the upper slopes cool and
still luxuriantly green. Peaches and water melon are in season.
sometimes stifling heat of the cities and the general holiday feel pushes almost
everyone to the coasts, which are almost invariably crowded. The beautiful areas
of the interior (and a few “undiscovered” parts of the coast) are however
relatively unfrequented. Towards the end of the month begins the spectacle of
the salt harvest in the salt pans around Trapani and the grape harvest or
“vendemmia” all over the islands. The fig trees are laden with their welcoming
vendemmia continues in earnest and all hands move to the fields. The summer is
often interrupted by coastal storms, which can be accompanied by high winds.
Temperatures remain very comfortable everywhere, and the coast and islands
retain that summer feeling, but without the crowds. The olive harvest is also
well under way. Hazel nuts are plentiful and many small villages celebrate their
arrival with traditional "feste".
abandoned vines turn to reds and oranges giving the vast areas of vineyards a
spectacular range of hues and making this one of the most beautiful periods for
country walking. Seasonal rainfalls help develop an astonishing variety of
mushrooms. The prickly pears are at their best.
is well and truly here, though the temperatures can stay in the high twenties
during the day to produce a surprisingly balmy Sicilian “Indian summer”. This is
generally the month with the highest rainfall, though the big storms that often
sweep the Italian peninsula generally pass safely to the north of Sicily. The
orange and mandarin season begins.
What To Bring:
|This list is only a guideline for you
|Travel documents and Voucher
|Visa (check with your consulate)
|Normal riding gear or comfortable, yet sturdy pants. No leggings please.
|Riding boots or shoes with flat soles that cover the ankles. We recommend mini chaps.
|Long sleeved cotton shirts (for sun protection)
|Riding helmet - provided (mandatory)
|Hat (with chin strap) for sun protection
|A wind breaker, rain gear that can be pulled over the saddle
|Jacket or sweater for cool evenings
|Underwear and socks
|Light summer jacket
|ADDITIONAL THINGS TO BRING
|Sore cream (for an emergency)
|Adapter for electric appliances
|Camera and extra batteries
|Address book and pen (for postcards)
|Sun glasses with strap
|Sun tan lotion and lip balm