We collect you from the airport at Catania and transfer you to Villa Laura. This beautiful B&B, nestled amongst citrus orchards, is situated about 300 metres from the Ionian Sea and the mouth of the Alcantara River, in the territory of Giardini Naxos, with views of Etna and Taormina. Tonight we serve a fine sicilian dinner and spend the night here.
Day 2: Villa Laura-Gorges of Alcantara (hours of riding: 5)
This morning you meet your horse for the trail, once mounted and comfortable on board we ride towards the sea. After riding for a short while along the Alcantara riverbed and the coastline, we enter the Santa Venera riverbed, which climbs for several kilometres through the territory of Taormina. Once we reach the heights of the Calatabiano Castle, which has dominated the area for centuries, we enter the Alcantara riverbed once again and will continue to climb through the territories of Gaggi and then Castiglione di Sicilia, before arriving at the river's famous gorges, where we will stop for a picnic lunch and a relaxing break, giving you the opportunity to take in the beauty of this unique spot, and where you can use wetsuits to travel along the river's icy waters inside the gorges. In the afternoon we will relax in the Parc of the Gorges where we have supper and spend the night in luxurious tents with all comforts and air conditioning.
Day 3: Gorges of Alcantara-Malvagna (hours of riding: 5)
After breakfast we continue to climb the river, riding over a bridge and on towards the Gurne di Francavilla, beautiful lakes carved out of the basalt, where it is possible to stop for a swim. We then continue along the valley, passing below the medieval village of Castiglione di Sicilia and riding through one of the wildest parts of the Alcantara Natural Park among labyrinthine lava flows dating back to the seventeenth century. We then reach the Malvagna Gorges, another beautiful spot, where we will stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon we will climb and ride around the extinct small volcano of Moio, before riding towards the typical village of Malvagna, dating from the seventeenth century. We will have supper and spend the night at B&B L'Arco dei Sogni.
Day 4: Malvagna-Floresta (hours of riding: 5)
From Malvagna we ride up the valley of the Roccella, a tributary of the Alcantara River, passing through a very steep and rocky landscape, to arrive in the Nebrodi Mountains, in the area of Polverello, where we pass under the enormous turbines of a windfarm, and from where you can spot a number of "cubburi" (mysterious, small, circular, stone constructions dating back many years) half-hidden in the wilderness, which were used up until recent times for shelter by local shepherds. Here we will stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon we reach Floresta, the highest village in Sicily (at 1373 metres), which is close to the source of the Alcantara River. Here we have supper at the Villa Ribot restaurant and spend the night.
Day 5: Floresta-Hotel Nebrodi (hours of riding: 5)
Shortly after setting off from Floresta, we enter the Nebrodi Natural Park (which, spanning almost 90,000 hectares, is the largest on the island). We ride through very varied and beautiful scenery to reach the valley of the Flascio, an important tributary of the Alcantara River. We commence our climb of Monte Colla and on the slopes we find our accommodation for the night, the Hotel Nebrodi. At approximately 1400 metres and immersed in nature and tranquillity, the hotel is the most isolated on the island and is the old summer residence of the barons of Vagliasindi diRandazzo. We have supper and spend the night here.
Day 6: Hotel Nebrodi-Feudo Vagliasindi (hours of riding: 5)
After leaving the hotel, we begin to climb back down from the mountains, passing the source of the Alcantara River, and ride towards Randazzo, an important town in the Etna area since antiquity, where we stop for a short visit and a picnic lunch. We then continue along the valley to reach another old residence of the Vagliasindi barons, with a lovely swimming pool, immersed in award-winning vineyards which produce the famous Etna DOC wines. You can enjoy a visit of the vineyard and a wine tasting. We have supper and spend the night here.
Day 7: Feudo Vagliasindi-Castiglione di Sicilia (hours of riding: 5)
After breakfast we set off from our luxurious accommodation for the last leg of the journey. We ride back along the Alcantara riverbed, passing the Castiglione Gorges, another very beautiful area, where we stop for a picnic lunch. Riding on to the Cuba Bizantina, a Greek-orthodox church constructed during the Bizantine occupation of the island (between the sixth and eighth centuries), which is probably the oldest church still standing in Sicily. We will then climb towards the town of Castiglione di Sicilia. Here we part company with our horses, have supper and spend the night here.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport (or another location on the island, as requested).
£1530 per person for a double room.
£1755 per person for a single room.
29 June-6 July
Level: Comfortable at all three paces (walk, trot and canter), with experience of hacking out in the open.
Age requirements: 16 years old and above.
Group size: Nine people maximum.
Key information / requirements: Between four and five hours in the saddle per day. You must be comfortable at all three paces (walk, trot and canter). You must be 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 some trots and gallops along the way.
Have a riding refresher before your trip on on of our UK short stay riding breaks - we highly recommend our equestrian centre in Cheshire for hacking, lessons and getting riding fit!
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.
Weight: Max 90 kg.
Accommodation: Agriturismi or 3* good quality hotels.
Themes: Mountains, forests, rivers, flora, fauna, history, mythology, agriculture, views.
Meals: Picnic lunches, typical Sicilian dinner in the evening (minimum four courses). Refined Sicilian cuisine prepared with local produce. Evening meals include: starter, pasta course, meat / main course, dessert, wine, water and digestif (liqueur, grappa, limoncello or other available options), coffee or tea. Continental or American-style breakfasts on request. Picnic lunches are provided by support vehicle (together with tables, chairs and cutlery) and include: fresh bread, salad, cheeses, olives, charcuterie, Sicilian specialities, wine or other drinks on request, coffee or tea.
Languages spoken: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Sicilian.
Horses: 14 horses of Sicilian breeding, all well trained and accustomed to the terrain. The horses live out at pasture. The guide cleans, grooms and tacks up the horses.
Tack: Comfortable English saddles, with a sheepskin cover on request, or Western saddles on request. All horses are ridden with a martingale and a crupper.
Luggage transport: By support vehicle.
Optional additional activities: Swimming pool, massage, walks, guided tours of towns and historical sites with a local guide.
Nearby towns and places of interest: Etna Natural Park, Alcantara Natural Park, Nebrodi Natural Park, Castiglione di Sicilia, Montalbano Elicona, Floresta, San Piero Patti, Tindari, Randazzo, Bronte, Catania, Taormina
Closest airport: Catania.
Transfers from/to the airport: Included in the programme price.
Departure point: Giardini Naxos.
We inspect all the horses and ponies on our horse riding holidays on a regular basis to ensure the best quality riding holiday for you.
We have a great range of horse riding holidays as well as riding breaks in Cheshire offering tuition in all disciplines and hacking out on well trained horses into Delamere Forest. Please have a browse through our full range of equestrian holidays.