Day 1: Arrival
Arrive at Catania or Palermo airport for your transfer to the Villa Magarà. This beautiful farmhouse has a swimming pool and is set in the countryside with fantastic views down to the sea. As you are only two kilometers from the historical center of Cefalù if you arrive before 4pm you can enjoy a guided tour of the beautiful town of Cefalù. We have dinner and spend the night at the farmhouse.
Day 2: Cefalù – San Mauro Castelverde (hours of riding: 7, km: 39)
After breakfast we meet our horses and set off at around 8.00 am beginning 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 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 stop for a picnic lunch, before continuing on to the town of San Mauro Castelverde, a medieval town on the top of a mountain at about 1100 meters above sea level, visit of the centre and finally reach Al Convento, a recently restored eighteenth century Capuchin monastery. This is where we spend the night and enjoy a hearty dinner made with typical local produce.
Day 3: San Mauro Castelverde – Monte Soprano (hours of riding: 6, km: 32)
From the town we 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 then ride directly beneath the great windmills of a windfarm to reach the Malpassetto pass, which marks the border of the provinces of Palermo, Enna and Messina. Our route descends into the forests of the Sambughetti-Campanitoreserve, where we stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we continue on to the territory of Nicosia, followed by Cerami, before descending an old, steep path immersed in a cork forest, where we take a break to visit a prehistoric troglodyte dwelling carved into the rocks and set over two levels. Finally, we arrive at the agriturismo Monte Soprano, a beautiful farmhouse with a swimming pool, where we have dinner and spend the night.
Day 4: Monte Soprano – Rifugio del Parco (hours of riding: 7, km: 38)
Today we 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 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 near a stream known as the Nocita. In the afternoon, we arrive at the hotel Rifugio del Parco, where we will have a delicious dinner made with local Nebrodi products and spend the night.
Day 5: Rifugio del Parco – Monte Colla (hours of riding: 8, km:42)
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 then reach the famous lake Biviere di Cesarò, which is a resting place for migrating birds. Continuing 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 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 enjoy a delicious dinner prepared with local produce and spend the night.
Day 6: Monte Colla – Castiglione di Sicilia (hours of riding: 7, km: 36)
Today we set off in the direction of the source of the Alcantara River, and continue on towards Santa Domenica di Vittoria, a typical Sicilian village on the edge of the Nebrodi Park, which we pass through, before descending into the fertile valley between Etna, the Nebrodi mountains and the Peloritan mountains. Passing orchards and fields of local vegetables before arriving at Mojo Alcantara, a small village famous for its "eccentric" crater (meaning that it is located outside the perimeter of Etna), which exploded a few thousand years ago. The crater's lava flow followed the route of the Alcantara River, setting its course and carving out the river's famous gorges for which it is known around the world. After a picnic lunch we 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.
Day 7: Castiglione di Sicilia – Etna North (hours of riding: 7, km: 36)
After breakfast we set off at around 9.00 in the morning. After passing through a rich and charming agricultural area characterised by hazelnut orchards, olive trees and vineyards, along small lanes bordered by stone walls made from lava rock, we will enter the Etna Natural Park. Crossing lava flows from various older and more recent eruptions, climbing up through forests of pine, oak and chestnut and past volcanic caves, enjoying breath-taking views of the mountains of Sicily and Calabria. Eventually we will reach the Ragabo pine forest at an altitude of around 1500 metres. Here we stop for a picnic lunch, before continuing to climb up through woods and lava flows to the Piano Provenzana (at about 1800 metres). Depending on the season and the conditions, we may continue to climb up to the craters from the last major eruption of 2002. At the end of the day, we will climb back down to Castiglione di Sicilia, where we have our final dinner and spend the night, with the beautiful memories of the trail etched in our minds for a long time to come.
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast we will transfer you to the airport - Catania will be the closest (or other locations on the island, as requested).
£1630 per person for a double room.
£1855 per person for a single room.
26 October-2 November
The price includes six days of riding with an English speaking equestrian / local culture guide, seven nights in comfortable accommodation with a full dinner and breakfast, luggage transport by support vehicle, six picnic lunches, transfers from/to the airports, insurance, and chaps / riding hat rental (if required).
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 six and nine 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 long trots and gallops along the way.
Book onto 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.
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. For groups of four or more riders, 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. For groups of less than four riders, picnic lunches consist of sandwiches and fruit (carried in saddlebags).
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, 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, walks, massages, 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, Madonie Natural Park, Cefalù, Castiglione di Sicilia, Nicosia, Troina, Randazzo, Catania, Taormina.
Closest airport: Catania or Palermo on arrival and Catania on departure.
Transfers from/to the aiports: Included in the programme price.
Departure from: Cefalù.
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.