Madonie Mountains to Coast
I am delighted to work together on this tour with Esplora www.esplora.co.uk
Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island and home to a fascinating mix of scenery, customs and local cooking, all in this same region. This walking tour takes us from the centre of the island from the town of Enna - through towns and villages in the Madonie mountain range down to the coast near Cefalù.
This tour is based and run on the responsible tourism policy of www.sicilianexperience.com (the company organizing this tour) where we try to help the local economy by staying and eating in small family run establishments and using local transport arrangements. We have included a cooking demonstration, wine tasting and cheese making, as well as a visit to the shepherd to see him making ricotta, so giving you the opportunity to see the ‘real’ Sicily from the inside.
You will only need to carry a day pack as our support vans will transport the luggage on a daily basis. An added benefit from having transport accompanying us daily is that you can opt out if you so wish at any time. The walks are classified from easy to moderate and can be done by anyone who is reasonably fit. You should, however, expect some uneven walking surfaces and some ascents and descents.
Catania Airport to Enna
Pick up at the airport and drive directly to the town of Enna, classified as the ‘navel’ of Sicily. Transfer 1hr.15mins. Time to explore the treasures of the town and enjoy the magnificent views across the countryside from the Rock, on which once stood a temple dedicated to the Fertility Goddess, Demeter and her daughter Persephone.
As we stroll down to our family run restaurant we pass the locals during their “passeggiata” (evening walkabout). A cooking demonstration will be given before our evening meal. A great introduction to Sicilian cuisine.
One night stay in a three star hotel in the centre of Enna.
Depending on flight arrival times, it may be possible to visitthe Roman Imperial Villa Casale, at Piazza Armerina where some of the best-preserved mosaics in Sicily were discovered in the late 1800s.
Enna to Gangi
Drive to Villadoro (45mins) from where we commence walking on the old trade route (from the centre of Sicily to the coastline) towards Gangivecchio, where once the original town of Gangi stood. At the end of the walk we have wonderful views towards Gangi the town that is perched like a tortoise shell on top of Monte Marone.
We drive into Gangi where we will visit the ‘centro storico’ with its Baroque townhouses and interesting churches, typical of the Madonie ‘Baroque’ style where you will learn about the legend of the “Queen of Gangi”.
Two nights stay at AgriturismoVilla Raino a restored Baronial villa from the 1700s with tranquil surroundings, situated in the valley behind Gangi.
Breakfast, picnic lunch and dinner included.
Distance: 13 km / 8 miles
Gangivecchio - Sperlinga
Drive to Gangivecchio where the walks commences on farmland tracks through fields, eventually on wide track partially asphalt and concrete. Views of Mt Etna and the Madonie Mountains.
Our final steep ascent to Sperlinga where we have lunch and time to visit the troglodyte dwellings and Saracen castle which is set high on a buttress of rock.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Distance: 14 km / 8.7 miles
Gangi to Madonie Mountains National Park
Before commencing our walk we take a small detour to visit the local farmer where we will watch him make the local cheese.”caciocavallo”
We than meet Mimmo for a falconery display – a ‘must see’ as he still uses the traditions introduced by Frederick II, the Swabian Emporer, in the 14th century.
Afterwards we continue our walk on the old trade route, crossing a Roman bridge and up ancient mule tracks leading us through wild scenery, to the 11thC ruined Saracen castle of Geraci Siculo where we will meet a local falconer for a falconery display – a ‘must see’ as he still uses the traditions introduced by Frederick II, the Swabian Emporer, in the 14th century.
Our afternoon track takes us through the Madonie range on paths with spectacular views over the mountains, across the sea to the Aeolian islands (on a clear day).
We arrive at Porta Mandarini (1,200 m) , where we are driven to Pomieri (10 mins).
Overnight stay at the comfortable mountain chalet. The restaurant is part of the Slow Food Association group which supports the traditional organic cuisine based on local produce.
Breakfast, picnic lunch and dinner included.
Distance: 14.5 km / 9 miles
Pomieri to Castelbuono (centre of Madonie Montains National Park)
We commence walking from the hotel (altitude 1346m), through woodland with 600 to 800 years old maple and oak trees. Continuing through the Madonie mountains, enjoying the spectacular views across the mountains and towards the sea. Our walk takes us to a forest with giant 1,000 years old holly trees, situated near a traditional thatched shepherd’s hut. Our path finishes shortly after at the mountain refuge Crispi (altitude 1260m), where we have lunch.
Early evening stroll around Castelbuono, time for sightseeing. Castelbuono is a traditional Sicilian town crowned by the Castle of Ventimiglia.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Overnight stay in Castelbuono.
Distance: 9 km/ 6 miles
Gibilmanna – Sant’Ambrogio
Leaving Castelbuono we drive to the Sanctuary of Gibilmanna the starting point of the walk. We visit the sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna there which is perched high on Pizzo Sant’ Angelo, said to be the first on the island to be dedicated to the Madonna. From here the walk descends on a wide path, with magnificent sea views across the coastline and the Aeolian Islands.
Continuing walking along country lanes passing small plots of cultivated olive and citrus groves down to the to our accommodation just outside the village of Sant’Ambrogio.
Two nights stay at 3-star hotel in Cefalù
Breakfst, packed lunch and dinner included.
Distance: 11.3 km/ 7.16 miles
Free Day: Cefalù - Optional morning walk
Time to explore Cefalù, the famous Arab/Norman town with its majestic cathedral, important museum, shops and beautiful sandy.
Optional walk to the Rock of Cefalù
Breakfast and dinner included.
Transfer to - Palermo airport (1 hour) or Catania (2 hours)