Italy ~ Sicily
7, 6 and 4 nights in north east Sicily, riding from guesthouse to guesthouse or from one guesthouse base, available April to November. Suitable for intermediate riders and above.
Where In the north-eastern corner of Sicily. Rides start close to the Madonie National Park from a base near the small town of Castelbuono, about 1 1/2 hour's drive east of Palermo and 1 1/2 hours north-west of Catania.
What is it like Two 7 night itineraries are offered from set dates with a shorter 5 night option for those with less time. The 7 night Transiciliana Ride follows a wonderful place-to-place route through the Madonie and Nebrodi National Parks, then into Mount Etna National Park, with the last riding day climbing the slopes of the volcano itself. The 7 night Madonie Ride and the Madonie short break are more flexible, starting from an 'agriturism' guesthouse close to Castelbuono, with some nights in other guesthouses and simple lodgings. Once a year a ride co-incides with the Canedda pilgrimage which many locals still make by horse.
Who does it suit Confident riders who want to discover rural Sicily, with the Transiciliana Ride ideal for those who love a place-to-place ride that feels like a proper 'journey'. It gives a superb overview of the area, visiting small hotels and 'agriturism' guesthouses, crossing 3 very different national parks and finally climbing Etna itself. Gentle horsemanship means relaxed horse which are very biddable but also keen, there is some lovely going on long winding tracks and local agriturisms mean delicious rustic food, zero food-miles, home grown wines and a real sense of what Sicily is about. The mountains in the Madonie National Park are higher and steeper so there is some slow, tricky going to negotiate here.
Why we love it For the surprise of Sicily's open, rolling countryside and sense of space when we imagined it to be more about atmospheric towns. For the atmospheric towns and villages, for the tremendous feeling of 'journey' with Etna always on the horizon beckoning you forward. Because we love rustic Italian food and wine, served with love.
Riding: 4-6 hours a day
Horses: Sicilian homebreds, Arab crosses
Pace: moderate overall, varied due to terrain
Riding ability: intermediate to experienced riders
Weight limit: 90kg (14st 2lbs)
Accommodation: comfortable hotels & guesthouses
Group size: max 12
Season: February to November
Prices: 7 night trails from 1505 Euros (approx £1365) per person
Horses: The horses used for the rides are mostly locally bred Sicilian breeds and Arab crosses, around 14.2hh to 16hh. They are responsive, sure footed, at home in the mountainous terrain and trained using a natural horsemanship technique. Comfortable trekking saddles are used with both cruppers and breastplates and saddlebags are provided. Rides are run for a maximum of 10 or occasionally 12 guests.
Hours: There is between 4 and 6 hours riding a day with breaks for rests and lunch. Hours on the Madonie Rides can be tailored to suit on request
Pace and experience required: These rides are for intermediate riders and above. You must be comfortable and secure at a walk, trot and fast canter on a well schooled horse and used to riding outside, with a group of horses, in an open environment, over varied terrain. The pace of the rides is moderate overall; there are usually plenty of chances to move on although in the mountains (Madonie area particularly) riding is often slow due to the ground. The Transiciliana Ride includes the most chances for longer canters
Accommodation is in village and country hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses of 2* to 3* standard. Several are family run, often with a good restaurant emphasising rural Sicilian food, most have en-suite rooms and some have a swimming pool. On the Madonie Rides one night is usually in a simple mountain refuge, sleeping in dormitory rooms on camp beds.
Transiciliana Ride (7 nights) - Euros 2250 per person
Single rooms can usually be booked for a supplement of 25 to 35 Euros per night. Please ask for details
Transiciliana Ride (7 nights)
Average temperature guide
Itinerary in brief - Transiciliana Ride. Please enquire for other itineraries.
|You will be met at Catania airport and driven about 1 ½ hours to a B&B in small town of Petralia Sottano. Meet your hosts, time to relax and then dinnner. Night Petralia Sottano
|Breakfast, meet the horses and a short briefing before mounting up to ride out into the countryside. Stop for lunch and ride onto Villa Raino (or similar) close to the town of Gangi. Dinner and night
|Long morning riding following a dry river bed and mountain tracks to Sambuchetti - Campanito Natural Reserve. Ride through oak forest and stop for a picnic at the far side then ride on after lunch across typical countryside to agriturism Monte Soprano for dinner and night.
|Breakfast and ride on to Caprizzi, a small town at the gates of the Nebrodi National Park. Quick stop at the town then climb through beech forest, stopping for sandwich pinic (a vehilce cannot reach you today). Ride on after lunch and finally arriave at Villa Miraglia for dinner and night.
|Ride across lovely mountain terrain with views of four lakes and towering Etna on the sky line. Picnic lunch in the forest and the afternoon takes you to a forest refuge where the horses stay, Short drive to hotel Fulcina del Volcano for dinner and night.
|Breakfast, return to the horses and a shorter riding day today, heading down the valley between Nebrodi and Etna National Parks, through the Gurrida Lake Reserve. Lunch and in the afteroon leave the horses in a paddock and short drive back to hotel Fulcina for dinner and night.
|Breakfast and the ride today follows the grey volcanic ash tracks that circumnavigate and finally take you up Mount Etna, perhaps riding as far as the Observatory (the route always depends on the weather) before heading down to a small chalet style hotel, Rifugio Ragabo, where the night is spent. Farewell to the horses and guides who will drive them back home, before dinner and your final night. .
|Breakfast and group transfer back to Catania airport for onward flights
|Contact us at email@example.com or on tel (+44) (0)1837-82544 / 825440 for further information, detailed itineraries, dates and answers to questions.
The meeting point for the Transiciliana Ride and Cannedda Pilgrimage Ride is Catania airport.
The meeting point for both Madonie Rides is Palermo airport.
In both cases you should aim to arrive at the respective airport before 14.00 on the first day to make use of the group transfer.
On the return one group transfer will be arranged back to the respective airport in time for the first flight of the group (usually mid morning).
Transfers outside the set times can be arranged for an extra charge.