Airport transfer from Catania to the territory of Castiglione di Sicilia, on Etna's northern slopes. You will have supper and spend the night here.
Day 2: Castiglione di Sicilia-Agriturismo Buongiorno (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we meet the horses and begin the trail, riding along tracks immersed in woods of hazel and chestnut, to reach the Alcantara River. We then ride around Castiglione di Sicilia, one of the island's oldest villages, before riding along a disused railway track, which takes us by bridge across the river, to enter Francavilla di Sicilia, another village of remote origin. From here we will ride out into the riverbed of the San Paolo River, which is dry for most of the year, before beginning to climb the southern slopes of Montagna Grande, the highest peak of the Peloritan Mountains. Once we reach the summit, we ride beneath the impressive turbines of a windfarm, before beginning the descent down the other side of the mountain, towards the Agrò Valley, where we will find our accommodation, Agriturismo Buongiorno, in the territory of Antillo. We will have supper and spend the night here.
Day 3: Agriturismo Buongiorno-Novara di Sicilia (hours of riding: 7)
From the agriturismo we begin our ride by climbing towards the top of a nearby mountain which is home to the "Bell of Peace", in memory of all those who have been lost to war, which you can also have a go at ringing. We then continue the ride following the ridge, from where you can enjoy spectacular views, before descending to the riverbed of the Patrì River, which skirts the village of Fondachelli-Fantina, where we stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon we climb towards the Rock of Novara (also known as the "Savatesta"), an impressive rocky peak reaching 1340 metres, which is shrouded in a number of mysterious legends. We pass around the Rock of Novara before descending towards Novara di Sicilia, formerly Noa, a town of ancient origins, where we spend the night at a historic hotel and eat supper at the nearby La Pineta restaurant.
Day 4: Novara di Sicilia-Montalbano Elicona (hours of riding: 6)
On this leg of the trail we ride from one historic town to another, from Novara di Sicilia to Montalbano Elicona. We also pass from the area of the Peloritan Mountains to the Nebrodi Mountains. After having ridden through Novara, we ride in a westerly direction, passing through the village of San Basilio. Climbing up towards another line of wind turbines and entering a forest of various species of tree, including beech trees, which are only found in Sicily at high altitude. We then reach the megalithic site of Argimusco, where we stop for a picnic lunch, right beneath the fascinating rock formations of this mysterious place. In the afternoon we will descend towards Montalbano Elicona. We ride right into the historic centre of the town and spend the night in houses located in its oldest part. We eat supper at the nearby Il Focolare restaurant.
Day 5: Montalbano Elicona-Hotel Nebrodi (hours of riding: 6)
After setting off from Montalbano we ride along the valley in a westerly direction and then climb towards the village of Floresta, the highest settlement in Sicily (at nearly 1300 metres). We ride through the village and stop for a picnic lunch nearby. In the afternoon we enter the Nebrodi Natural Park. This is one of the most beautiful and breath-taking parts of the trail, which takes us to the northern side of Monte Colla. Here we find our accommodation, the old summer residence of the Vagliasindi barons, nestled in a very remote and tranquil spot, which cannot be reached other than by off-road vehicle. Here we have supper and spend the night.
Day 6: Hotel Nebrodi-Feudo Vagliasindi (hours of riding: 5)
After setting off from the Hotel Nebrodi we begin todays ride by descending through the Nebrodi forests to the source of the famous Alcantara River, passing the sanctuary of Santa Maria del Bosco, before arriving in the area of Randazzo, another very old village, where we stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon we will continue along the Alcantara Valley and arrive at our luxurious accommodation, Feudo Vagliasindi, another former country residence of the Vagliasindi barons (whose main residence was the Palace of Randazzo). This area produces one of the best Etna DOC wines. We ride around the vineyards and visit the old cellars, where it is possible to taste the vineyard's prize-winning wines. We have supper and spend the night here.
Day 7: Feudo Vagliasindi-Castiglione di Sicilia (hours of riding: 5)
For this final leg of the trail we ride almost exclusively through the Alcantara River Natural Park, famous for its basalt rock formations, formed by ancient lava flows from Mount Etna which followed the river's path and have been moulded by the river's flow over the centuries. After leaving Feudo Vagliasindi, we descend towards the Alcantara riverbed, which we follow to the agricultural village of Moio Alcantara, sitting in a fertile plain and dominated by an extinct small volcano. We then reach the Malvagna Gorges, where we stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon we continue though the Natural Park, passing the Castiglione Gorges and the Cuba Bizantina, a small Greek-orthodox church which dates back many centuries. We then arrive back in Castiglione di Sicilia, where everything started six days before, and where we will have supper and spend the night.
After breakfast you will be transferred back to Catania airport (or another location on the island, as requested).
£1530 per person for a double room.
£1755 per person for a single room.
30 March-6 April
28 September-5 October
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 five and seven 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.
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, B&B or 3*/4* good quality hotels.
Themes: Mountains, forests, flora, fauna, lava flows, craters, 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, 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, Castiglione di Sicilia, Aeolian Islands, Randazzo, Bronte, Catania, Taormina.
Closest airport: Catania.
Airport transfers: Included in the price of the trail.
Logistical base: Le Terre di Castel Leone
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.
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