This trail is a fantastic adventure which takes you across some of the lesser known areas of the island, from the famous town of Corleone, situated inland to the west of the island, to the coastal resort town of Cefalù, passing through a rich variety of landscapes, from dense forests to agricultural land, chalk and limestone mountains, endless fields of wheat and hay, caves, eighteenth and nineteenth century farmsteads, and towns and villages that have been forgotten by history.
Our horses stay with us throughout the trail and will spend each night in the same place as the riders, so our guests will not need to use any other means of transport for the duration of the trail (not even for short distances).
All meals are prepared using local produce, with a picnic at lunchtime, and a dinner each evening including at least four courses.
Day 1: Arrival
After your arrival in Corleone, we will have dinner and spend the night at Agriturismo Ridocco.
Day 2: Corleone – Gorgo del Drago (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we will set off from Corleone at around 8.30 in the morning. We will begin by crossing endless fields of wheat and hay, which remain the principal agricultural products of the island – the island has been considered an immense granary from as early as the Roman times. We will then pass through the forest reserve of Pirello, arriving after about three hours in the reserve of the Ficuzza Wood, established by the Bourbon King Ferdinand in 1799 as his personal hunting reserve, and which, extending across almost 7400 hectares, is one of Sicily’s largest and best preserved natural woodlands. Here we will stop for a picnic lunch, beneath the imposing Rocca Busambra, which, measuring 1602 metres, is the highest peak in western Sicily. In the afternoon, we will continue through the reserve, which is home to a great variety of indigenous plants, including red oak, holm oak, ash and pine trees. We will then ride through the village of Ficuzza, where we will stop for a short break and you can admire the nineteenth century Royal Palace of King Ferdinand and enjoy some refreshments from a local bar. Late in the afternoon, we will arrive at the Agriturismo Gorgo del Drago on the northern edge of the reserve, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 3: Gorgo del Drago – Villa Dafne (hours of riding: 8)
We will have breakfast and leave Gorgo del Drago at around 8.00 in the morning. We will pass through the village of Godrano, famous for producing cheese, before continuing on towards Cefala Diana, famous for its castle of Arab origin, followed by Villafrati and then Ciminna, where the landscape is characterised by rock formations made of gypsum crystals. We will stop here for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we will continue on towards Roccapalumba, nicknamed “the town of the stars”, before arriving at Villa Dafne, where we will have dinner and stay overnight.
Day 4: Villa Dafne – Mandragiumenta (hours of riding: 5)
After breakfast we will leave Villa Dafne at around 8.30 in the morning, passing through arable land along royal “trazzere” (paths established during the Bourbon period and still used today by herds moving from the north to the south, and leaving the coast to move inland, with the changing seasons). We will then pass below the town of Alia and arrive at the caves of Gurfa, home of the tomb of Minos, the king of Crete who came to Sicily in search of Daedalus and was killed by the trickery of the daughters of the Sicanian King Kokalo. The caves were used as a temple during the classical era, as grain stores during Roman times, as luxury lodgings during the Arab period, and as stables until 1997. Today they form part of the cultural heritage of the town of Alia. We will stop here for a picnic lunch, before continuing along the “trazzere” in the afternoon to the agricultural town of Valledolmo, where we will stop for a break at a local bar. We will then arrive at Agriturismo Mandragiumenta, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 5: Mandragiumenta – Casale Drinzi (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and set off at about 8.30 in the morning, riding through fields until we reach the ancient village of Sclafani Bagni, perched on a mountain, where you can visit the ruins of the village’s medieval castle and have a coffee, before continuing the trail towards the thermal spring of Sclafani Bagni. Here we will stop for a picnic lunch and you can bathe in the healing sulfuric waters. In the afternoon we will follow the route of the River Salito, a tributary of the Northern Imera River, and the western boundary of the territory of Madonie. We will have dinner and spend the night at Casale Drinzi.
Day 6: Casale Drinzi – Feudo Galefona (hours of riding: 6)
After breakfast we will set off at around 8.30 in the morning. This day of the trail will take us through the heart of the Madonie Natural Park, which, spanning 40000 hectares, enjoys the greatest biodiversity across the island (being home to more species than all of those in Great Britain). After leaving the agriturismo, we will begin to climb, soon reaching high altitudes where the vegetation and the landscape changes dramatically, and where we will pass through dense forests of red oak and holm oak. In the afternoon we will reach the typical medieval village of Isnello. We will have dinner and spend the night at Feudo Galefona.
Day 7: Feudo Galefona – Cefalù (hours of riding: 6)
We will have breakfast and leave Feudo Galefona at around 8.30 in the morning, travelling towards the sea and passing through areas of great botanical and scenic interest. We will arrive at Gibilmanna in time for a picnic lunch, home of the famous shrine of Our Lady, a spiritual destination for pilgrims travelling from all over Sicily. In the afternoon, we will continue our descent and arrive in Cefalù, a popular coastal resort town of international renown. Our faithful equine friends will then be loaded onto a horse lorry to take them back home. Our guests will spend the night at the Villa Magarà, where we will enjoy a seafood dinner.
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport (or other locations on the island, as requested).
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 eight 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 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. 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 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, walks, guided tours of towns and historical sites with a local guide.
Nearby towns and places of interest: Palermo, Ficuzza Natural Park, Madonie Natural Park, Bosco di Granza, Corleone, Prizzi, Collesano, Cefalù. .
Closest airport: Palermo.
Transfers to the airport: Included in the programme price.
Departure from: Corleone.
9 people maximum
Euro 1,810 per person (double rooms)
Euro 250 single room supplement
The price includes:
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, transfers from/to the airport, luggage transport by support vehicle, six picnic lunches, insurance, and chaps / riding hat rental (if required).