Sicily Explorer riding holiday in Sicily - Far and Ride
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Sicily Explorer, Sicily





Reviews



Alex is a fantastic guide, he has a really deep knowledge of Sicily's cultural history as well as its natural beauty. He was also great with the horses. He was very attentive to all our needs, we felt safe and in good hands at all times and he had a real passion for Sicily (as well as horses!).

Russell
Fantastic - could not fault a single thing. The whole experience surpassed everything I was expecting. The whole trip was amazing - the horses, the scenery, food, hotels and guides - so many memories, cannot choose a favourite!

Paula M.
An amazing experience. Lovely horses, stunning scenery, an expert guide and loads of wonderful local food and wine.

Andrea T.
Just letting you know that I had the most amazing holiday with Alex in Sicily last week! It was beyond my expectations from start to finish. Alex and Attila were wonderful guides and such knowledgable horsemen. Our group bonded really well and we had so many laughs along the way. Most importantly the horses were fabulous - so nimble and forward going and very well cared for and trained by Alex. After the wonderful Sicilian food I'm now back on salads for a while!!

Jenny S.
This was hands down the best trail I've done. Everything was simply brilliant - Alex is an excellent guide, the horses are fun to ride and well-natured, the scenery was incredibly varied and beautiful and the food was delicious. I'll definitely be going back!

Lizzie R.
Excellent - one of the best rides that I have done!

Sarah C.
 

Horses



Type of horses:

Mixed breeds, primarily of Sicilian and Arabian backgrounds.

Nature of horses:

Sure-footed and well-trained but forward-going.

Height of horses:

15 - 16hh.

Weight limit:

90kg / 14st 2lbs / 198lbs

Tack type:

Mostly English but western saddles are available on request.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

These adventurous riding holidays are the perfect way to experience Sicily. You will be riding with Alex, one of Sicily's most knowledgeable riding guides, either on different routes from the well-located agriturismo San Marco or on a multi day trail ride in other parts of the island. Riders will spend full days in the saddle riding through the beautiful landscapes of this special island and learning about its history.

The base-point and home for the horses is 3* Agriturismo San Marco, a renovated farm which lies in the territory of Castiglione di Sicilia, on the north side of Etna, at about 700m altitude. The farm is in an ideal location with the possibility to ride to the gorges of Alcantara, Castiglione and the crater of Moio as well as on the lower slopes of Mt Etna itself. Catania airport is just one hour by car and in forty minutes it's possible to visit Taormina, the famous coastal town overlooking the Ionian Sea, rich in history and culture. San Marco is the starting point for many of the trails and it's also possible to organise a based stay there on request, with adventurous daily rides.

During the exciting multi-day trails such as 'Cefalu to Etna' and the 'Mini Trails', you will move between comfortable accommodations, spending long hours in the saddle, riding through various parts of Sicily depending on which route you have chosen. These multi-day trails are suitable for fit, experienced riders as the hours are often very long and there is some challenging terrain. They make for great Sicilian adventures! For those who have the sense of adventure but would prefer something a little less challenging, then we also offer the 'Etna Circular Trail' allowing guests to explore the trails of Etna with less hours in the saddle and at a more leaisurely pace.

Holly from Far and Ride has ridden with Alex from Cefalu to Etna and stayed at San Marco, so please get in touch with her if you have any questions. You can be assured of a great horseback adventure and wonderful Sicilian hospitality!

"To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

The base point of these rides is Agriturismo San Marco, a 3* accommodation based in the hamlet of Rovittello, just on the lower slopes of Etna (700m above sea level). Many of the trails start here with guests staying in comfortably furnished rooms with en-suite shower rooms. The old farm buildings were renovated and so bedrooms are new and comfortable, but still keeping some of the traditional feel. A stationary programme with accommodation here every night is also a possibility.

The agriturismo grounds cover 12 hectares and they grow much of their own produce on the land. They rent out mountain bikes and have a reading/TV room available for guests, as well as a restaurant on site.

During the trail rides, guests will stay in different guesthouses/hotels along the trail route. Mostly they are rural guesthouses of around 3* level, simple but clean, comfortable and generally with en suite bathrooms. They all serve traditional cuisine.

Guests will enjoy typical Sicilian cooking during the rides - this includes a buffet style breakfast and a dinner comprising several courses and accompanied by local wine. The food here is fresh, traditional and absolutely delicious. During the stationary programme you will be in an area famed for its prestigious wines!

On the multi-day trails lunches will be generally be simple picnics carried in the saddle bags, usually sandwiches. However, sometimes these will be more elaborate including local produce such as cheeses, meats, pastas and salads.

 

Activities

Mountain biking and walking. If you are on the stationary programme then Taormina is just 30 minutes by car and well-worth a visit if you have the time!

 

Further Details

Languages: English, French, Italian.

Health requirements: Good fitness required.

Age limit: 16+

Tuition: No.

Included: Accommodation, meals and riding.

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, airport transfers, extra drinks, tips and souvenirs.

 

Travel Information

If you book the stationary programme then Catania airport lies approximately 1 hour by car from the agriturismo. We can help you to organise public transport or airport transfers at an additional cost - please contact us for details.

If you choose one of the trails then we can advise on the closest airports and the relevant costs for transfers.

Airport: Catania

Alternative Airport: Palermo

 

Programmes


Mount Etna Mini Trail



This three day trail is the ideal way to explore the landscapes of Mt Etna and its surrounding countryside in a limited time. The ride is suitable for experienced riders who are fit to cope with long hours in the saddle, covering varied terrain and perhaps experiencing all sorts of weather along the way. In the evenings you will dine on delicious Sicilian cuisine and wine before sleeping in comfort. 

Itinerary:

NB: The following is an example itinerary which may be subject to change at your hosts discretion.

Day 1 (c.7 hours of riding): San Marco - Villa Dorata 

Breakfast and departure from Agriturismo San Marco at 8:00. After crossing a path in the middle of a lava flow from 1911 and passing by the village of Solicchiata, famous for its production of fine wines, you begin the ascent from the north, riding through forests of oak and chestnut. After around three hours riding you will reach the cave "Palombe", one of the many caves of Etna formed during the effusive eruptions, and will arrive soon at the "high-mountain track", at an average height of 1700 meters above sea level. You will follow this track to the refuge of "Spanish mountain" where you will take your picnic break. In the afternoon you continue to follow the track from which, during the days of good visibility, you can see half of Sicily. You pass by lava flows, craters and forests of beech, onto the cave of "Monte Nunziata", the refuge of "Galvarina", the cave of "Santa Barbara" and finally your hotel "Villa Dorata". Here you can enjoy breathtaking views of the city of Catania, its plain and its Gulf, all the way to Syracuse. Dinner and overnight.

Day 2 (c.8 hours of riding): Villa Dorata - Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi 

Breakfast and departure at around 7:30. On leaving your hotel, you start to climb towards the "Rifugio Sapienza", the most visited place of Etna, from where the cable car takes tourists in the summer to the summit of the volcano and in the winter to the ski resort. You will reach a height of about 2000 meters form where you can admire the "mouth" of 2001 which spewed millions of cubic meters of lava that invested almost all the facilities and the streets of this southern side up to much lower altitudes. You pass then through the “Silvestri Craters” born during a big eruption at the end of nineteenth century, so called “bottoniera” because they follow a line of fracture like the buttons of a shirt. You descend then through very rough paths across recent and older lava flows and thick forests until you reach the territory of Zafferana Etnea, famous for its large production of honey. You will then continue to climb in the direction of the Ragabo pine forest where you will find your overnight accommodation, "Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi". Dinner and overnight. 

Day 3 (c.7 hours of riding): Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi - San Marco

Breakfast and departure around 8:00. You will make your way through the middle of the pine forest until reaching the lava from the latest great eruptions of Etna which took place in 2002. From here you will ride into the area of the impressive Sartorius craters at about 2000m high and then on into Piano Provenzano, near to which you will stop for your picnic. After lunch you descend back towards your starting point of Agriturismo San Marco, crossing oak and chestnut forests, lava flows of different ages and hazel trees. Generally speaking you will finish the ride at approximately 5.30 - 6pm.



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Strong intermediate with good fitness. You need to be able to ride at all paces and for long hours, comfortable with covering a variety of different terrain.
Type of ride: Trail.
Total riding time: 3 days in the saddle, hours ranging from 6 - 8 per day.
Departure dates: 2017: Dates to suit for a minimum of 2 or more riders.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£531 per person.
Single supplement: £27 per person, if available.

Price includes 2 nights of accommodation, dinners, breakfasts and 3 days of guided riding with picnic lunches.

Extra night of accommodation at San Marco: £66 per person (double room) or £83 per person (single room).



Etna Circular Trail



This trek is a spectacular adventure that leads you around the highest active volcano in Europe, through tracks, mule paths and pistes. You will travel on the back of beloved horses, who will lead you through a succession of dense woods and recent lava flows to breathtaking views of the mini continent that is Sicily. With shorter riding days than the other point-to-point trails, this trail is perfect for riders who want something a little less challenging, as well as plenty of extra time to enjoy the swimming pools and facilities at the comfortable accommodations.

Itinerary: 

** Please note that this is a guideline and may be subject to change at the discretion of your host and guide.

Day 1: 

Transfer from the airport in time for dinner and overnight at San Marco.

Day 2 (c.5 hours of riding): San Marco - Parco Statella

Breakfast and departure from the farmhouse at around 9:00 am. You will begin by heading in the direction of the river Alcantara, toward the small gorges at Castiglione. Passing by the Byzantine Cuba (place of worship from the VII century), you will follow the paths up the valley and through the Parco fluviale dell'Alcantara. After a full morning, you will reach the outskirts of Randazzo, where there will be a picnic lunch setup and awaiting your arrival. An enjoyable rest here and then back in the saddle to head in the direction of Monte la Guardia, where you will find your lodging for the night, Parco Statella. This is beautiful property surrounded by ample greenery and natural landscapes. Dinner and overnight.

Day 3 (c. 5 hours of riding): Parco Statella - La Fucina di Vulcano

Breakfast and an early departure from Statella Park at around 8:30am. Today you will begin to ascend the north-east slope of the volcano, Etna, through forests of oak, chestnut, beech and Sicilian brooms (genista aetnensis). This highly perfumed species of tree flowers between May and September, filling the slopes of Etna with its heady aromas and can be recognised at this time by its wonderful yellow flowers and considerable size. Coming up above the trees, you will reach the Pista Altomontana (the high mountain paths), near to the mount of Santa Maria. You will continue to follow the tracks up to the mount of Spagnolo, passing through the lava fields left behind by the eruption of 1981. Heer you will spot the "Hornitos" (from the Spanish "little ovens") which appear as small mouths that opened up during the violent eruption. You will find a sheltered place to enjoy your picnic, with an amazing view over - seemingly - all of Sicily, before again descending from the western slope towards tonight's accommodation. La Fucina di Vulcano is a very comfortable hotel which offers magnificent views of the western slopes of Etna. Dinner and overnight.

Day 4: (c.5 hours of riding): La Fucina di Vulcano - Villa Dorata

Breakfast and another early departure from our hotel at around 8:30am. Again, you will start the day by heading uphill from the western leg of the Pista Altomontana to reach the mount of Scavo. From here you will pass through a succession of charming beech and conifer forests, reaching yet more recent lava flows. On the days of good visibility you can enjoy breathtaking views over Sicily and then onwards along the high western slope of Etna, where you can have some nice gallops. You will take your picnic lunch near the mountain refuge of Galvarina. Then, riding through the afternoon, you will reach your fourth accommodation of the trip, Villa Dorata. This is a beautiful small villa overlooking the Gulf of Catania and the mediterranean sea. Dinner and overnight.

Day 5: (c.5 hours of riding) Villa Dorata - La Rocca di Rosa

Following breakfast you will have a very early departure from Villa Dorata today, at around 7:30am. This will allow more time at the next nights accommodation in order to enjoy the pool and facilities. You will start by crossing a reserved area known as the ​​"Refuggio Sapienza", where you will be able to visit the Silvestri Craters (large lateral craters born during a major eruption in the late XIX century). You will then start to descend through the "Desert of Etna", so called because of the harshness of the territory and absence of any marked trails running through it. Finally you will return to the tree line and then through forests of oaks, holm and chestnut trees, before reaching the village of Zafferana Etnea, famous for its production of honey. Here you will also find your fifth accommodation of the trail, La Rocca di Rosa, a beautiful restored XVIII century structure equipped with swimming pool! Dinner and overnight.

Day 6: (c.6 hours of riding): La Rocca di Rosa - Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi

After breakfast you will enjoy a relatively leisurely departure from the farmhouse at around 9:00am today. Starting off by climbing back up the slopes from the east side of Etna, through predominantly oak forests with the inclusion of the famous "Ilici du Carrinnu", large specimen of oak tree with enormous size, believed to be around 700 years old! You will pass along the edge of the Valle del Bove, a great gorge on the eastern slope of the mountain which channels the flow of lava during eruptions. You will enjoy a picnic lunch up on the slopes, before mounting up and resuming your journey uphill to the Sartorius Craters. These fantastic scars on the landscape were created during a large flank eruption in 1865 and now forms an interesting piece of geological marvel. Finally you will begin to head down from the slopes, through forests of birch and beech and arrive in the Pineta Ragabo, with its great umbrella-like pine trees (pinus larix). Here is also located your accommodation for the night, Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi. Dinner and overnight.

Day 7: (c.6 hours of riding): Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi - San Marco

Breakfast followed by departure from the chalet at around 9:00am. Today you will begin again by ascending through the pine forests of the lower slopes until you reach Piano Provenzana - renowned ski resort in winter months. Here you will climb yet further, following a set of tracks and paths through an almost lunar landscape. This plateau was the scene of the last major eruption of Etna, back in 2002. The craters you will ride along up here were only created in October of that year following ongoing ground movements on this side of the Volcano. You will continue along the camber of the craters until you loop around to the mount Nero. Here you will stop in a shelter place to enjoy a picnic lunch, near the refuge of Timpa Rossa. You'll find yourself completely immersed in one of the most southerly beech forests of the hemisphere, before beginnign the descend from the northern side of Etna. Winding down through mixed deciduous forests, up through vineyards near Solicchiata, to finally arrive back at the home base, Farmhouse San Marco. Dinner and overnight.

Day 8: 

Breakfast and departure for the airport or onward travel.



Accommodation: Accommodation will be provided in a range of comfortable hotels, country homes and villas along the trail route. The stops are chosen for their character, unique situation and Sicilian authenticity. Most offer twin and double bedrooms (unless a single room is specified) and some have swimming pools for guests to enjoy on warm sunny days.
Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Intermediate and experienced riders with good fitness. You will need to be happy riding over challenging terrain and at great heights. The pace is not overly fast (mainly walking due to the terrain) although there are opportunities for plenty of trots and canters along the route.
Type of ride: Trail ride.
Total riding time: c.5-6 hours per day for 6 days.
Departure dates: 2017: 15-22 April, 13-20 May, 10-17 June, 24 June-1 July, 16-23 September, 21-28 October.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£1382 per person, based on double/twin room accommodation. Price includes 7 nights accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day (picnic lunches) and drinks with meals. Also included is 6 days of guided riding as described in the itinerary, with support vehicle and luggage transportation between overnight stops.

Airport transfers available at an additional cost.

Single supplement: £124 *

*Single supplement has to be paid if there is nobody for you to share with (or if you are not willing to share a room and would prefer to pay the extra).



Stationary Programme



A seven night based stay with six days in the saddle riding on different routes. San Marco is an excellent base from which to reach many beautiful sites on horseback. After each day of riding you are guaranteed very comfortable accommodation and delicious Sicilian cuisine back at the farmhouse. 

Each day you will saddle up and head out with Alex, riding a different path to one of the region's interesting places. Your lunches will generally be a picnic of sandwiches or similar which you will carry in your saddle bag.

Riding times vary according to the route each day and highlights include the gorges of Alcantara, the crater of Moio, the town of Castiglione and, of course, the lower slopes of Etna itself. 

NB. Please note that riding on Etna depends on the amount of snow - it's not always possible to ride very high during the colder months of the year. 



Minimum group size: 1
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Intermediate and above - riders need to be fit and confident to ride long days in the saddle including walk, trot and canter, as well as riding over some difficult terrain.
Type of ride: Based stay with daily trail rides.
Total riding time: Six days of riding.
Departure dates: 2017: Based stays are possible all year round, outside of the trail departures (as they can't run both at the same time). Please contact us with your dates and we'll see what we can do!
 
Pricing: 2017:

£1163 per person, based on a twin/double room.
£1439 per person, based on a single room.

Prices include 7 nights of accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day (picnic lunches), drinks with meals and 6 days of guided riding.



Cefalu to Etna Trail



This horseback journey will surprise even the most seasoned equestrian with its beauty as you ride through four Sicilian parks: the Madonie, Nebrodi, Etna and Alcantara. The itinerary from Cefalù to Etna is characterised by an evocative landscape as well as a mixture of history, culture and tradition.

Through the ancient “Regia Trazzera” across the Madonie park you will follow old trails where Sicilian cowboys used to drive their herds from winter mountain pastures to summer lowland pastures. From there it is onwards to the Nebrodi and to the slopes of the famous Mt. Etna. This is an extraordinary adventure during which you will feel part of nature, riding a hardy and well cared for horse over a variety of interesting terrain. You will ride through some wild isolated country during the day but return at night to 3 star comfort and some local gastronomic delights. The traditional Sicilian cuisine is a source of great pride in the land's tumultuous history and reflects the influences of the changes. The isolated countryside will be a welcome change from city pollution and together with the extraordinary beauty and variety of landscapes it will ensure riders have a trip to remember.

The Madonie park, created in 1988, protects the variety of wildlife and vegetation present on the island. The land is rich with history: Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans all had influence on the towns and villages in this area of Italy. You will find castles and monasteries unique in Italy and the theatre of the famous “Targa Florio" car race.

The Nebrodi contains over 70km of mountains in which 50% of Sicilian forests are found; this is truly the green heart of the island. Riding on you reach Alcantara park where waters flow for about 40km in between castles and stunning landscapes, complete with lava gorges and native vegetation. Mt. Etna is unique in the Mediterranean. Its continuous succession of eruptions and variety of terrain from the sea to the forest make it a diverse ecosystem in which an incredible quantity of animals and plants are founded.

Alexandre is a very experienced trail guide and his knowledge of the countryside is matched with their passion for the environment and their pride in Sicily. The calm, good-natured horses will ensure that your trip is enjoyable, comfortable and safe with the long hours in the saddle. The route covers a distance of more than 200km at heights between 200 metres above sea level and 1600 metres on Nebrodi. Depending on the season it could take you to 2000 metres on Mount Etna. Most of the route leads through wild, wooded landscapes of Sicily, only short stretches are paved road. Accommodation is in high quality 3 star hotels/guesthouses and you will enjoy typical Sicilian food. Lunches are taken en route and are often in the form of a picnic.  

Itinerary

NB - please note that the itinerary is subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather or volcanic conditions. 

Day 1:

Transfer from the airport and overnight in a beautiful farmhouse (with swimming pool) in the territory of Cefalu. There will be an evening dinner with a briefing and an outline of the trail. If you arrive before 4pm then a guided tour of Cefalù is a possibility. 

Day 2 (c.7 hours of riding): Serra Guarneri to Casalvecchio Geraci

After breakfast you will be suitably matched to a horse, tack will be checked and you will be made aware of the characteristics of your particular horse. At approximately 8am the trail begins and the route takes you through very scenic and varied terrain where you will find cork forests, scrubland, vineyards, olive groves and pastures. After passing through the territory of Santa Anastasia, home to an ancient Norman Abbey and well known winery you will continue through the  countryside around Castelbuono, a charming medieval town, rich in history and traditions. You will reach the wild valley of River Pollina (considered the eastern boundary of the territory of the Madonie) where you will have a picnic.  You will then continue to the farmhouse Casalvecchio Geraci, a recently restored nineteenth century farm on the banks of the River Raino, a tributary of the river Pollina in the typical Sicilian countryside cultivated with wheat and fodder. Here you will enjoy a hearty dinner cooked using local produce some of which is harvested on the farm.  Here you will sleep overnight.

Day 3 (c.5 hours of riding): Casalvecchio to La Sugherita 

You will set out from the farm after breakfast around 8.30 am.  You will cross an old "trazzera" (transhumance road dating back to at least the Bourbonsand enjoy scenic views over the fields. You will pass through fields of grain and forage up to an altitude  of about a 1000m and move under the huge blades of a wind farm until you reach Malpassetto, the border of the provinces of Palermo, Enna and Messina. 

You will ride into the woods of the 'Sambughetti-Campanito' reserve, where you will eat your picnic, before entering into the territory of Nicosia and Cerami. From here you will ride along a steep path through a cork forest, with the possibility to enter a prehistoric troglodyte dwelling, before reaching the farm La Sugherita where you will enjoy a delicious dinner and stay the night.

Day 4 (c.7 hours of riding): La Sugherita to Rifugio del Parco

Today you enter into the heart of Nebrodi Park, riding along the famous 'Ridge of Nebrodi' - this is a long, dirt track which runs between forests and high mountain pastures. Nebrodi is a charming area which offers incredible views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Aeolian Islands to one side, with the Sicilian hinterland provides of Enna, Caltanissetta, Agrigento, Siracusa, Catania and Etna to the other side. Alex will lead you through the beech woods in the territory of San Fratello which is famous for its horse breed which is very hardy and has a large, strong head. It's possible to see them grazing in the wild. 

Lunch today is taken in a small clearing in the shade of the trees, close to a water source (Nocita). In the afternoon you will reach the hotel of Rifugio del Parco where you will eat a great dinner of local Nebrodi produce. 

Day 5 (c.8 hours of riding): Rifugio del Parco to Monte Colla 

This is arguably the most beautiful part of the trail - over 40 kms in the wild and green territory, riding along the 'Dorsale dei Nebrodi'. You will come to the Lake Maulazzo which is overlooked by Mount Soro, the highest peak in the Nebrodi (1847m) and covered by impressive beech woods. The trail comes next to the famous lake Biviere di Cesarò which is a stop-off for migratory birds. Riding along the 'Dorsale' brings you from lush forests into beautiful clearings which offer views of the Aeolian Islands to the north and to the majestic peak of Mount Etna to your south. Your afternoon ride will bring you to Monte Colla, the most isolated farmhouse in the island dating back to the 18th century and now converted into an agriturismo. It is an ancient aristocratic residence situated at about 1400m high in the territory of Randazzo. You will be tired but no doubt feeling satisfied, ready to enjoy a wonderful traditional Sicilian meal cooked with local fresh produce.

Day 6 (c.7 hours of riding): Monte Colla to San Marco 

After breakfast the group will leave Monte Colla farmhouse at about 8.00 am. Your trail takes you through the woods and down into the valley where the river Alcantara originates and then up again to the other side where you will the exit the Nebrodi Park after a couple of hours. You will cross the village of Santa Vittoria di Vittoria and continue to descend and reach the Alcantara river further downstream. You will cross the river in several places in an area of rare beauty and you will arrive in the territory of Castiglione di Sicilia (in the Catania province). Here you will stay at the San Marco farm just below the slopes of Etna and you will have a good night's rest after a delicious dinner.

Day 7 (c.6 hours of riding): San Marco to Etna North 

Today you will leave at 9.00 am after breakfast. After passing through a rich agricultural area characterised by crops of peaches, almonds, olives, vineyards and drywalls of lava stone, you will enter into the Etna natural park! The ride will take you through beautiful forests of pine, oak and chestnut and onwards to visit volcanic caves and enjoy breathtaking views of Sicily and Calabria. From here it's up into the Ragabopine forest which lies around 1500m above sea level.

You'll stop here for lunch and a rest, enjoying your interesting surroundings, before climbing back in the saddle to continue the adventure. Your guide will lead you on a climb through the pine forests towards Piano Provenzano (approximately 1800m a.s.l) and, according to the season, weather and volcanic conditions, up to the craters of the last great eruption of 2002. At the end of the day you will come back down to spend your second evening at San Marco where you will enjoy a good dinner and a chance to reflect on the beautiful images of the week's trail. 

Day 8:

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your journey home. 



Accommodation: Accommodation is in good quality 3 star hotels and guesthouses.
Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Experienced rider with good fitness. You need to be able to ride at all paces and for long hours, comfortable with covering a variety of different terrain. This is the most challenging trail at this destination with several days of 7+ hours riding - you should be up for an adventure!

Riders joining in November should be of an especially adventurous spirit, fit to ride long hours and in any kind of weather and happy to start early each day so as to get the riding done before dark.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 5 - 8 hours per day (25 - 50km).
Departure dates: 2017: 1-8 April, 29 April-6 May, 27 May-3 June (FULL), 8-15 July, 2-9 September, 7-14 October, 11-18 November.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£1383 per person, based on double/twin room accommodation. Price includes accommodation, all meals with local wine, beers and soft drinks, guided riding and support vehicle. Airport transfers available at an additional cost.

Single supplement (where available): £168 *

*Single supplement has to be paid if there is nobody for you to share with (or if you are not willing to share a room and would prefer to pay the extra).



Corleone to Cefalu Trail



This adventurous but comfortable trail ride will take you through some of Sicily's lesser-known areas, starting in the famous town of Corleone and leading you to the seaside town of Cefalu. During the ride you will explore a multitude of charming landscapes and terrain including dense woodlands, cultivated farmland, mountains of chalk or limestone, endless fields of grain, mysterious caves and ancient farms, towns and villages with fascinating histories. 

Whilst you will spend long days in the saddle and will need to be fit, you will receive a warm welcome every evening at a quality guesthouse and will have a chance to rest. Each place serves delicious Sicilian cuisine and wine, with meals created using local produce. Dinners are a minimum of four courses and lunches are eaten as picnics during the rides. 

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival: You will be transferred from the airport to your first accommodation in Corleone. Here you will meet your guide and the other trail guests for a first dinner and a good sleep. 

Day 2 - Corleone to Gorgo del Drago: Your first riding day begins after breakfast with departure on horseback at approximately 08:30. The trail starts with the crossing of open fields which are planted with grains and fodder, still the island's main agricultural produce since Roman times. From here you will ride into the forest reserve of Pirello and after three hours or so of travelling you will reach the reserve of the Ficuzza Wood - this was established by King Ferdinand of Bourbon in 1799 as his personal hunting ground. At approximately 7400 hectares this is one of the largest and most well-preserved natural woodlands in Sicily. You will take your picnic under the imposing slopes of Rocca Busambra which is the highest peak in western Sicily, standing at 1602m, before mounting up again to ride further into the forests. This reserve is home to a range of indigenous plants including red oak, holm oak, ash and pine. Your guide will lead you through the village of Ficuzza where you can make a short stop in order to admire the eighteenth century palace of King Ferdinand, also pausing to enjoy a refreshing drink from a bar. 

After this break you will ride on towards your overnight accommodation, the farmhouse Gorgo del Drago which lies on the edge of the reserve. Here you will settle your horses for the night before enjoying a sumptuous dinner and overnight in the farmhouse rooms. 

Approximate hours on horseback: 7.

Day 3 - Gorgo del Drago to Masseria Acque di Palermo: Breakfast followed by departure from Gorgo del Drago at approximately 08:00. You will pass through the village of Godrano, which is famous for its cheese production, and onwards to Cefala Diana which is home to an old castle of Arab origins. From here you pass through Villafrati and then to Ciminna whose landscapes are characterised by rock formations composed of gypsum crystals, also where you will stop to enjoy your picnic lunch.

In the afternoon you will saddle up again and ride towards Roccapalumba, nicknamed "the town of the stars" for its planetarium and star-gazing opportunities. You will arrive at the Masseria Acque di Palermo where you will dine and sleep. 

Approximate hours on horseback: 8.

Day 4 - Masseria Acque di Palermo to Mandragiumenta: This morning you will leave your accommodation on horseback at approximately 08:30, riding through arable farmlands following royal 'trazzere'. These are routes established during the Bourbon period for the relocation of livestock from north to south, still used today. You will then pass under the town of Alia and on to the caves of Gurfa, in the territory of Alia, which is home to the tomb of Minos. This king of Crete came to Sicily to hunt for Daedalus, who had helped Minos' daughter Ariadne and her lover, Theseus, to slay the Minotaur and escape from Crete. Minos was said to have been enraged at the loss of his daughter and therefore sought to find Daedalus who had settled in Sicily, but he was lured and killed by the daughters of Cocalos, the Sican king, before he could find him. Minos' tomb was transformed into a temple during the classical era, then used as a grain store in Roman times and even a luxury home in the Arab era. It was then used as a stable until 1997 and now stands as part of Alia's cultural heritage. 

Following a picnic lunch at these fascinating caves, you will re-mount your horses and follow the trazzere to the agricultural town of Valledolmo for a drink at the bar. From here you will ride on to the farmhouse Mandragiumenta where you will eat dinner and spend the night. 

Approximate hours on horseback: 6.

Day 5 - Mandragiumenta to Tenute La Rocca: Following breakfast and departure at approximately 08:30, you will ride over fields towards Sclafani Bagni, an ancient village perched on the mountainside. Here you can visit the panoramic ruins of a medieval castle and enjoy a coffee at the bar, before riding on towards a thermal spring for your picnic and a dip in the health-giving waters. 

After lunch and your thermal bath you will follow Salito, a tributary of the northern Imera river which represents the western limit of the Madonia territory. Dinner and overnight will be at the farmhouse Tenute La Rocca. 

Approximate hours on horseback: 6.

Day 6 - Tenute La Rocca to Rifuggio Marini: Breakfast and departure at 08:30 again. Today's ride takes places in the heart of the Madonie Natural Park, home to the largest biodiversity on the island - its 40,000 hectares is home to more species than the whole of Great Britain! On leaving the farm you will start to climb to high altitudes, witnessing the dramatic changes in vegetation and landscapes as you go... dense forests of oak become beech woodlands, dotted across the massif of Mount Cervi and Mont Carbonara which is Sicily's highest peak, standing tall at 1979m. In the late afternoon you will arrive at Rifuggio Marini in Piano Battaglia, famous for its ski resort in the winter months. Dinner and overnight here. 

Approximate hours on horseback: 6.

Day 7 - Rifuggio Marini - Cefalu: This final riding day begins with breakfast and departure at around 08:00. Today is notable for the considerable change in height as you travel from 1600m at Piano Battaglia to the sea level at Cefalu, passing through areas which are very interesting, particularly from a botanical point of view. After approximately three hours in the saddle you will reach the medieval village of Isnello and then Gibilmanna, your final picnic spot, which is home to the famous shrine of 'Our Lady' and a spiritual destination for pilgrims from all over Sicily. 

In the afternoon you will continue your descent on horseback, eventually arriving to the seaside resort town of Cefalu. After a fond farewell to the dear horses who have carried you on this ride, they will be loaded onto trucks and transported back home for a well-earned rest. You will then be transported to the B&B La Dolce Vita where you will spend the night. Dinner tonight is at the nearby restaurant La Scoglio Ubriaco where they serve delicious fresh fish. 

Approximate hours on horseback: 8.

Day 8 - Departure: After breakfast it is time to head to the airport or to continue your travels in Sicily. 



Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Strong intermediate - advanced. You MUST have good riding fitness and be able to spend several long days in the saddle in a row. There is some challenging terrain and occasions when you may need to lead your horse on foot.
Type of ride: Trail.
Total riding time: 6 days riding with up to 8 hours a day.
Departure dates: 2017: 8-15 April, 6-13 May, 3-10 June, 30 September - 7 October, 4 - 11 November.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£1383 per person, based on double/twin room accommodation. Price includes accommodation, all meals with local wine, beers and soft drinks, guided riding and support vehicle. Airport transfers available at an additional cost.

Single supplement (where available): £168 *

*Single supplement has to be paid if there is nobody for you to share with (or if you are not willing to share a room and would prefer to pay the extra).



Mysterious Sicily Mini Trail



This mini trail includes three days in the saddle and is a chance to discover a little taste of beautiful Sicily from horseback. You will explore one of the most picturesque and mysterious areas of this special island. With comfortable farmhouse accommodation, delicious food and lots of riding hours, this is the ideal way to fit some riding into a limited amount of time! With beautiful views of Mt Etna and a range of intriguing landscapes to explore, this short break will no doubt leave you wanting to visit Sicily again.

Itinerary:

NB - Please note that this is a guideline and may be subject to change at the discretion of your host and guide.

Day 1 (c.8 hours of riding): San Marco - Il Daino 

At approximately 8am you will start out from San Marco Agriturismo, in the Alcantara Valley, and after crossing the river will begin to climb through the forest reserve Malabotta. This lies on the extreme eastern propensity of the Nebrodi mountain range and offers breathtaking views of the valley and of Etna. You will ride up to about 1200m above sea level where you will find the 'Patriarchs of the Forest', represented by ancient oak and beech trees of considerable size, where you will stop for your picnic lunch. From here you will ride on to the Argimusco, nicknamed "the Sicilian Stonehenge", famous for its megaliths and very suggestive forms which some believe have occurred due to weathering and others think to be eroded sculptures of an ancient civilisation, unrecognised in official history. Your ride then heads down towards the north where you will pass by the medieval town of Montalbano Elicona, taking time to make a short tour of the old town. You will then continue on into a lush valley which is covered in forests before climbing your way towards the village of Santa Maria and farmhouse 'Il Daino' in the the territory of San Piero Patti, your overnight stop.

Day 2 (c.6 hours of riding): Il Daino - Monte Colla 

After breakfast you will start climbing into the eastern territory of the Nebrodi mountains, crossing arable lands and woodlands, passing under big wind turbines and meeting the so-called "tholos" - these small, circular, stone buildings have been used by unknown civilisations since prehistoric times and, until a few years ago, by local shepherds. Riding on, you will arrive in Floresta which is Sicily's highest town, located at 1275m above sea level. After a picnic break the ride will continue inside Nebrodi Natural Park, following winding paths through beautiful landscapes and forests of oak, maple and beech trees before bringing you to Monte Colla, the most isolated farmhouse of the island. The house is 7km from the nearest paved road and is an aristocratic home from the 18th century with an attached barn at about 1400m high. Dinner and overnight here. 

Day 3 (c.7 hours of riding): Monte Colla - San Marco 

After breakfast you will begin by walking towards the direction of the source of the Alcantara and then on towards Santa Domenica Di Vittoria, a traditional village on the border of the park, which you will cross before making your way down to the fertile valley lying between Etna and the mountains Nebrodi and Peloritans. Passing by orchards of fruit trees and vegetables you will come to Mojo Alcantara, a village which is famous for its "eccentric crater" meaning that it lies outside the perimeter of Etna. It exploded a few thousand years ago and its lava flow has followed the course of the river which first modelled it, carving the famous Alcantara Gorges which are known far and wide. After your picnic break your guide will lead you on country lanes which are bordered by lava stone walls and on to multiple river crossings, taking you up to the "small gorges" and the "Byzantine Cuba". This place of worship dates back to the 7th or 8th century, recognised by its particular squared shape. After visiting these fascinating sites you will ride back to the starting point of your trail, San Marco. Generally speaking you will finish the ride at approximately 5.30 - 6pm. 

It is possible to book an extra night at the accommodation and leave after breakfast.



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Strong intermediate with good fitness. You need to be able to ride at all paces and for long hours, comfortable with covering a variety of different terrain.
Type of ride: Trail.
Total riding time: 3 days in the saddle, hours ranging from 6 - 8 per day.
Departure dates: 2017: Confirmed date 22nd-25th July 2017,

Other dates can be arranged for a minimum of 2 riders (outside of other trail dates on this page).
 
Pricing: 2017:

£598 per person.
Single supplement: £27 per person, if available.

Price includes 3 nights of accommodation, dinners, breakfasts and 3 days of guided riding with picnic lunches.

Extra night of accommodation at San Marco before or after the trail: £66 per person (double room) or £84 per person (single room).



Around Etna (Farm Stay and Trail Combination)



Spend a couple of days exploring the area around the Alcantara river valley before embarking on a three trail ride discovering the majesty of Mount Etna. Ride through forests and across lava fields, marvelling at the craters and destructive forces of the volcano. This itinerary can be scheduled most weeks for a minimum of two riders.

Day 1:

Arrive at the farmhouse San Marco for dinner and overnight.

Day 2 (c.6 hours of riding): San Marco

After breakfast, at c. 9am, you meet the horses and set off on a full days ride in the Alcantara river valley. Ride through vineyards, olive groves, hazel woodlands and lava flows, with several river crossings - in warmer months it may be possible to cool off in the clear waters of the river too. Return to San Marco in the late afternoon for dinner.

Day 3 (c.7 hours of riding): San Marco - Villa Dorata

After breakfast, at c. 8am, set out for your three day tour of Mount Etna. After crossing a path through the middle of a lava flow from 1911 and passing the village of Solicchiata (famous for its production of fine wines), begin ascending from the north, passing through forests of oak and chestnut. After about 3 hours of riding you reach Palombe - one of the many caves created by Etna's numerous eruptions. Continue onto a high mountain track at 1700m and follow this until reaching the Spanish Mountain refuge where you stop for a picnic lunch.

In the afternoon, continue following the high path which offers great views across Sicily on clear days. Along the route you will pass many lava flows, craters and beech forests as well as another cave - Monte Nunziata. Continue past the Galvarina refuge and the Santa Barbara cave before finally reaching your hotel for the night - Villa Dorata which has breathtaking views of the city of Catania, and the plains and gulf as far as Syracuse.

Day 4 (c.8 hours of riding): Villa Dorata - Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi

An early start today, departing at c. 7.30am. Your day begins by riding uphill towards Rifugio Sapienza - the most visited point on Mount Etna as the cable car is situated here, which takes tourists to the summit of the volcano and is a popular ski resort in winter. You will reach heights of 2000m from where you can view the "mouth" from which the 2001 eruption spewed millions of cubic metres of lava down the southern side of the volcano. Ride through the Silvestri Craters which were created during a huge eruption at the end of the 19th Century - these are known locally as "bottoniera" because they follow the fracture line like the buttons on a shirt.

Descend on some very rough paths across recent and older lava flows and through thick forest until reaching Zafferana Etnea which is famous for it's production of honey. Climb uphill through woodland and into the Ragabo pine forests where you'll find your accommodation for the night - Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi.

Day 5 (c.7 hours of riding): Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi - San Marco

After breakfast, depart at c. 8am and ride into a giant pine tree forest to discover the lava fields of the most recent Etna eruption in 2002. Continue on to the impressive Sartorious craters at c. 2000m and stop for a picnic lunch at Piano Provenzano. After lunch, descend through alternating oak and chestnut forests and lava flows, reaching hazel forests at lower altitudes until returning to Agriturismo San Marco for dinner and to overnight.

Day 6 (non-riding):

Today is a rest day for both horses and riders. You can either relax at the farmhouse or take a guided excursion to the great Alcantara gorges in the morning and/or spend the afternoon in Taormina - a historical town nicknamed the Pearl of Sicily. Dinner and overnight at the farmhouse.

Day 7 (c.5 hours of riding): San Marco

After breakfast, set out riding at c. 9:30am for another ride through the enchanting Alcantara valley. Today you will stop for a tasting of the Etna DOC wines in one of the most renowned wineries in the area. Return to the farm in the afternoon for dinner.

Day 8:

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport (or another location on the island if you are continuing your holiday).



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Strong intermediate with good fitness. You need to be able to ride at all paces and for long hours, comfortable with covering a variety of different terrain.
Type of ride: A combination of trail and stationary riding.
Total riding time: 4 - 8 hours per day for 5 days.
Departure dates: 2017: Dates available for 2 or more riders most weeks when trails are not running.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£1383 per person, based on double/twin room accommodation. Price includes accommodation, all meals with local wine, beers and soft drinks, guided riding and support vehicle. Airport transfers available at an additional cost.

Single supplement (where available): £133 *

*Single supplement has to be paid if there is nobody for you to share with (or if you are not willing to share a room and would prefer to pay the extra).



Transicilian Trail (Corleone to Etna)



This two week trail covers the full distance from Corleone to Mount Etna, covering a variety of terrain and including many hours of riding. From agricultural farmland, through beautiful forests and onto the lava fields of Etna, this trail is a stunning route for competent riders who want to experience the best of Sicily.

Day One:

Arrive in Corleone in time for dinner with the group and overnight in a B&B

Day Two:

After breakfast, you meet the horses and set off riding at c. 8.30am by riding across seemingly endless fields of fodder and grain which represent the main agricultural production on the island. You then ride into the forest reserve of Pirello and after about 3 hours of riding, you reach the reserve of Ficuzza - established by King Ferdinand of Bourbon in 1799 as his personal hunting grounds, this 7,400 hectares woodland is one of the largest and best preserved in Sicily. Stop for a picnic lunch under the imposing Rocca Busambra which is the highest peak in western Sicily at 1,602m.

In the afternoon, continue riding through the forest which contains a wide variety of indigenous plants, including red oak, holm oak, ash and pine. Eventually, on the northern edge of the forest reserve, you reach the farmhouse Gorgo del Drago where you stop for dinner and to overnight.

Riding: c. 7 hours

Day Three:

An early breakfast and depart from the farmhouse at c. 8am. Ride from the village of Godrano, which is famous for its cheese production, towards Cefala Diana with its castle of Arab origins. Continue riding through Villafrati and onto Ciminna which is characterised by rock formations composed of gypsum crystals. Stop here for your picnic lunch.

In the afternoon, ride towards Roccapalumba, nicknamed the Town of the Stars, and arrive at the farmhouse Villa Dafne where you spend the night.

Riding: c. 8 hours

Day Four:

Depart at c. 8.30 and ride through arable fields and along royal trazzere (paths instituted in the Bourbon period and still used by herds of livestock travelling north/south to different pastures). Ride below the town of Alia and onto the caves of Gurfa where you stop for lunch. These caves house the tomb of Minos, the king of Crete, who came to Sicily to hunt Daedalus and was killed by the daughters of the Sycan king Kokalos. The caves have had many uses over the years including a temple in the classical era and warehouses for grain in Roman times.

In the afternoon, continue riding the trazzere to the agricultural town of Valledolmo where you stop for a drink at the bar before continuing onto the farmhouse Mandragiumenta.

Riding: c. 5 hours

Day Five:

Depart the farm at 8.30 and ride through fields to an ancient village perched on the mountain of Sclafani Bagni - visit the panoramic ruins of the medieval castle and enjoy a coffee at the bar. Continue riding along a path to a thermal spring where you stop for lunch and can bathe in the therapeutic sulphurous waters. After lunch, follow Salito and ascend the tributary of the northern Imera river until reaching the western limits of the Madonie territory. Overnight in the farmhouse of Casale Drinzi.

Riding: c. 7 hours

Day Six:

A shorter day today, with a departure around 9am to ride in the heart of the Madonie natural park which has the highest biodiversity on the island within its 40,000 hectares (home to more species than the whole of Great Britain!). You start climbing soon after leaving the farm and are soon at high altitudes where the vegetation and landscape change dramatically. Continue riding through dense forests of holm and red oaks until arriving at the picturesque little medieval town of Isnello. Dinner will be in the restaurant La Brace and you overnight in a B&B.

Riding: c. 4 hours

Day Seven:

Leave Isnello at c. 8.30am and ride to Gibilmanna, home to the famous shrine of Our Lady and a spiritual destination for pilgrims all over Sicily. Have your picnic lunch here and then in the afternoon, descend to Turismo Rurale Cefalu - a beautiful and quiet farmhouse with a swimming pool.

Riding: c. 7 hours

Day Eight:

Today is a rest day for the horses. You can opt for a guided visit of the historical seaside town of Cefalu or simply relax at the farmhouse.

Day Nine:

Depart the farmhouse at 8am to ride through a really scenic and varied landscape of cork forests, scrubland, vineyards, olive groves and pastures. After passing the territory of Saint Anastasia, home to an ancient Norman Abbey and renowned winery, continue through the countryside around Castelbuono - a charming medieval town rich in history and traditions - until reaching the wild valley of the River Pollina, considered the eastern boundary of Madonie. Stop here for your picnic lunch and then continue to the farmhouse Casalvecchio Geraci, a recently restored 19th century farm on the banks of the Raino river. Dinner here will be hearty and contain plenty of produce directly harvested from the farm.

Riding: c. 7 hours

Day Ten:

Set out from the farm along an old trazzera with scenic views across fields of wheat and crops, climbing to an altitude of 1,000ft where you reach Malpassetto, the border of the provinces of Palermo, Enna and Messina. Continue into the woods of the Sambughetti-Campanito reserve where you stop for lunch. In the afternoon, ride into the territory of Nicosia and Cerami and follow an old steep path downhill through a forest of cork oaks, passing a prehistoric troglodyte dwelling and eventually reaching the farmhouse La Sugherita where you spend the night.

Riding: c. 5 hours

Day Eleven:

Ride into the heart of the Nebrodi park along the famous Dorsale Dei Nebrodi, a dirt road which runs for about a hundred kilometers, west to east. Riding between forests and high mountain pastures there are spectacular views across the Tyrrhenian Sea and onto the Aeolian islands on one side, and across the Sicilian hinterland provinces of Enna, Caltanissetta, Agrigento, Siracusa, Catania and Etna on the other. You may be lucky enough to see some native Sanfratellani horses - this strong and durable breed graze wild within the territory of San Fratello. Stop for lunch in a clearing with shady trees and a water source (Nocita) before continuing to the hotel Rifugio del Parco where you have dinner of local Nebrodi products.

Riding: c. 7 hours

Day Twelve:

Today is probably the most beautiful day, as well as being the longest, as you cover 40kms of the Dorsale dei Nebrodi through mountains, forests and lakes. You pass Maulazzo lake which is dominated by Mount Soro, the highest mountain in Nebrodi (1,847m) and covered in magnificent beech forests. You then pass lake Biviere di Cesaro, which is a famous stopping place for migratory birds. Continue along the Dorsale, where lush forests give way to panoramic clearings, from where you can see the Aeolian islands in the north and Mount Etna in the south. In the evening you will arrive, tired but satisfied, at Monte Colla - a unique, aristocratic residence from the 18th century which has converted into a hotel.

Riding: c. 8 hours

Day Thirteen:

Depart at 8am and drop down through woodland to the valley where the river Alcantara springs forth and then climb the other side and after a couple of hours riding, exit Nebrodi park. Cross the village of Santa Domenica di Vittoria and then continue riding downhill, crossing the river Alcantara many times before reaching the territory of Castiglione di Sicilia (Catania). Here you find your farm, San Marco, which is nestled below the slopes of Mount Etna.

Riding: c. 7 hours

Day Fourteen:

Depart at 9am and ride through a rich and charming area characterised by agricultural crops of hazel, olive trees and vines, and through streets lined by stone walls made of lava stone until reaching Etna park. Here the landscape switches between ancient and recent lava flows, fantastic forests of pines, oaks and chestnuts, volcanic caves and breathtaking views of the mountains of Sicily and Calabria. Eventually you reach the pine forest of Ragabo at 1,500m where you stop for a picnic lunch before continuing through woodland and lava flows to Piano Provenzana at 1,800m. If the weather and volcanic conditions allow, you continue to climb up to the craters of the great eruption of 2002 before descending back to the farmhouse at San Marco for your final dinner.

Riding: c. 6 hours

Day Fifteen:

After breakfast you are transferred to the airport for your flight home.



Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Strong intermediate - advanced. You MUST have good riding fitness and be able to spend several long days in the saddle in a row. There is some challenging terrain and occasions when you may need to lead your horse on foot.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 14 nights / 12 days of riding
Departure dates: 1-15 July 2017. It's also possible to book either half of this trail, Corleone to Cefalu (1 - 8 July) or Cefalu to Etna (8 - 15 July).
 
Pricing: 2017:

£2657 per person sharing
£443 single supplement

It's also possible to book either half of the trail, please contact us for information.