A wonderful trail for strong to intermediate riders on horseback through several different Sicilian Parks on this very special holiday. The Cefalu to Etna itinerary shows the true beauty of Sicily; you will never forget the mixture of history, culture and tradition to be encountered on this ride.
For this trail, you will be accompanied by two experienced guides who will escort you through unspoilt, rolling countryside, rugged, mountain landscapes and magical, forested gullies. They are very familiar with the trail and twill introduce you to local fare including fresh produce and wines which are the pride of Sicily. After long days in the saddle riders can relax in quality 3-star accommodations that provide delicious Sicilian foods locally sourced from the surrounding fields and farms.
This trail will bring riders in touch with nature with areas like Madonie Park that are home to a variety of wildlife and vegetation. The rock formations date back over two hundred million years. Discover towns and villages of the island, multicultural yet quintessentially Sicilian thanks to the many influences that have passed through over the centuries; Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans have all played a hand here. This is demonstrated in the architecture and culture of the island. Witness why Mt. Etna is one of the main attractions in Sicily due to its extraordinary views.
Another natural area that riders can explore is the Nebrodi park, which is where 50% of Sicilian forests are found. The ride finally brings riders to the Alcantara Park with its remarkable volcanic landscape.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from KR of Liverpool on 25/06/2023
Airport transfer from Palermo Airport to the farmstead, Tenuta Luogo Marchese, passing through Cefalu along the way. Early arrivals have the possibility of a guided tour through the historic centre of Cefalu to view the Arab-Norman cathedral, the medieval washhouse and/or free time for shopping.
Allocation of the horses and saddle up before departing at 9am to ride in the countryside around Castelbuono, a destination full of history and tradition not to be missed. The trail leads through the largest cork forest of Sicily to Geraci which is a thousand meters high and which is well known for its castle and mineral water. After a short stop riders start an ancient abandoned path that leads to "Casalvecchio Geraci" in the afternoon. Accommodation is in this beautiful farmhouse, surrounded by stunning countryside and wheat fields. A delicious meal of local produce will be provided by your hosts.
Riders have a chance to explore an old 'trezza', an ancient route dating back to the Bourbon kings. which offers scenic views. Riders pick their way to an altitude of about a thousand feet before arriving at Malpassetto, the border of the provinces of Palermo, Enna and Messina. A picnic lunch is served in the "Sambughetti-Campanito" nature reservation before entering the territory of Nicosia and Cerami. The ride continues down an old, steep path set in a forest of cork. Today's ride stops at the agriturismo Monte Soprano (or similar), the accommodation for the night. A prehistoric cave is a short walk away.
Today's destination is the Park of Nebrodi. En-route, the trail passes along a dirt road named "The Ridge" located between forests and high mountains pastures. From here one can witness a magnificent view of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Aeolian Islands and, on the other side of the Sicilian hinterland, the provinces of Enna, Caltanissetta, Agrigento, Siracusa, Catania and Etna. The sanfratellani horses, a large-headed, native breed, can be seen in the territory of San Fratello. The ride continues through the beech woods, reaching a small clearing in the shade of trees near a natural spring (Nocita), where a picnic lunch.will be served. The rday's ride ends at the hotel "Rifugio del Parco" (or similar) where a sumptuous dinnerwhich includes local Nebrodi products, is served.
This is the longest and the most beautiful stage of the trail, as it follows 40 kilometres of the "Dorsale del Nebrodi" with its panoramic views of the mountains, forests and lakes. Along the way is the lake Maulazzo, dominated by Mount Soro, the highest peak in Nebrodi (1847 meters) and the famous lake "Biviere di Cesaro", stopping place for migratory birds. Continue along the "Dorsale" where lush forests give way to panoramic clearings, from here one can see the Aeolian Islands to the north and the majestic peak of Mount Etnato the south. The day ends at a farmhouse in Monte Colla (dating back to the 18th century), the overnight accommodation.
Today's ride starts on the road to Randazzo with a magnificent view of Mt. Etna along the way. Randazzo is a well-known and well preserved town dating back to the reign of ancient Greece. Enjoy a picnic lunch near the town before continuing along the valley of the Alcantara river and arriving in the territory of Castiglione di Sicilia (Catania province)., and 'Al Vecchio Torchio', the accommodation for the night located just below the slopes of Etna.
Today's ride passes through an amazing agricultural area offering views of different crops such as peaches, almonds, olive groves, and vineyards, surrounded by dry walls of lava stone. The trail enters the Etna Natural Park, riding through beautiful forests of pine and oak, with views across the mountains of Sicily and Calabria before riding into the "Ragabo" pine forest, about 1500 meters above sea level, and a stop for lunch.
After lunch the ride continues to climb through the pine forests all the way to Piano Provenzano, which is about 1800 meters above sea level. Depending on weather and volcanic conditions it may be possible to climb up to the craters of the last great eruption in 2002. At the end of the day the ride descends to spend the second and final evening at "Al Vecchio Torchio Del Casale".
Breakfast and transfer to the airport of Catania for the trip home.
NB - Please note that the itinerary is subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather or volcanic conditions.
At the start of the trail, transfers are included from Cefalu or Castelbuono which you can reach either by bus/train.
You can also be collected from Palermo Airport 2024: €230 per car (3 pax max) or €280 (6 pax max)
Catania airport 2024: €250 per car (3 pax max) or €300 (6 pax max).
At the end of the trail, transfers to Catania airport: 2024: €150 per car (3 pax max) or €170 per car (6 pax max)). Alternatively you can pay for a transfer back to Palermo airport (€300 per car). All transfers are to be paid in cash locally.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
There are 12 horses available for guests ranging in height from 15hh to 16hh. They are local Sicilian breeds or Sicilian/Arab and very surefooted, forward going and responsive. Riders have the choice of English or Western saddles. The riding is of a varied pace due to the terrain but there will be opportunities for some faster canters.
Riders must have a secure seat at all paces and must be able to walk beside their horse at times due to steep terrain.
There is a minimum age limit of 16 years old and riders must be physically fit and used to long hours in the saddle as some days may involve up to 8 hours in the saddle or more.
Your horses will be prepared for you each morning but you must be willing to assist with untacking, feeding and watering your horse along the trail.
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation is in good quality 3 star hotels or agriturismos with excellent Sicilian cuisine. One of the pleasures of Sicily is the wonderful food. Hearty meat stews, fresh fish, chocolate and marzipan are some of the highlights.
With a history of plagues and power struggles, bread has always been a staple of the Sicilian peasant and is coarse and golden, fashioned into a myriad of shapes. Baked bread is treated with the greatest respect and in the past only the head of the family had the privilege of slicing the loaf.
Simple pasta dishes are available on every menu along with delicious fresh sauces and local cheese. You will get the opportunity to taste some wonderful regional dishes on this trail. Sicilian wine and beer will be welcome at the end of a day's riding and it is said that you will never get a dud coffee in Sicily.
When in Palermo the local street food is worth trying such as 'sfinciuni', a Sicilian pizza with anchovies, fresh tomatoes, onion, primo sale cheese, Parmesan and oregano.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.
NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.
Passport and Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.
Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.
In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy
In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Italy.html
In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/italy
Sicily enjoys a relatively mild climate; high temperatures begin in May, often lasting until sometime in October. While the summers can be very hot and dry, the spring and winter months often bring on torrential rains. Surprisingly, even Sicily has its cold waves in winter, with temperatures falling below zero, especially inland. As of late, it's not been uncommon to see minimal snowfall in Palermo.
COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.
Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Italy and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.
Please take along sun cream and anti-allergy medicine for possible insect bites
In Italy the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.
You will be able to charge electrical items each evening in your accommodation. Remember an adapter!
We have put together a suggested packing list for your trip. This should be used as a guideline as requirements may vary according to your programme and preferences.
• Riding Helmet - we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384. Helmets are available at the stables if you do not have your own
• Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers (jeans may rub and can also be quite hot)
• Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a definite heel are acceptable (such as walking boots)
• Half Chaps - these are great when worn with ankle boots and help prevent the stirrup leathers rubbing against your legs
• T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
• Fleece - Although the weather is generally very warm, the evenings can be a bit cooler
• Warm layers - At times the evening temperature drops significantly
• Casual Clothes - for when out of the saddle
• Water Bottle - it's very important to drink a lot of water when it's hot, especially when doing physical activities
• Raincoat - it is always a wise idea to pack a waterproof/ windproof jacket!
• Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect repellent and plenty of sun cream
• Camera and Spare Batteries/Charger - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding
• A copy of your passport
This is an 8 day / 7 night programme with 6 riding days running on set dates for a minimum of 2 riders. Other dates are possible on request, please enquire.
2024: 4 May; 1 June; 7 Sept; 5 Oct;
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Other activities in the area include: cycling, diving, fishing, water sports, trekking, mountain biking, windsurfing, tennis, sailing, golf, and snorkelling.
There are populations of hedgehogs, rabbits, squirrels, beavers, foxes, wild cats and wild boar and birds like the falcon, pilgrim hawk, windhover, kite, eagle, rock partridge and imperial crow. Migratory birds that still use Sicily as a pit stop include the common wader, pink seagull, grater sea swallow and the spoonbill. You can also find insects and invertebrates here such as the spotted grass snake, a rather large toad and varieties of frog and gecko.
In terms of river life freshwater fish have all but disappeared but there are still eels. While in the seas there are large numbers of blue-fin tuna and swordfish.
In mountain areas there is broom, lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, wild olive, dwarf palm, lentisk, cork oaks, oleanders, carob trees and tamarisks. The largest tracts left are largely contained in the Nebrodi, Madonie, Peloritani and Etna slopes in oak trees, holm oaks, cork oaks, chestnut trees and beech trees. Other local fauna includes the agave, palm, plane trees, ficus, cedar, mulberry and eucalyptus.
You may be lucky enough to spot the rare San Fratellani horses grazing in the Nebrodi Park. There are less than 800 of these horses left in the world!
Italy forms a peninsula in Southern Europe extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, Elba and about 70 other smaller islands. It is mostly mountainous, though between the Apennines (which form the spine of Italy) and the eastern coastline there are the fertile plains of Emilia-Romagna in the north and of Puglia in the south. The Alps in the north divide Italy from France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
The Roman Empire was once the most powerful in the world, covering Europe and extending into modern day Asia. Their horsemanship skills second only to the Mongols further east. The incredible sophistication of Roman culture still leaves its mark across Europe and has been the foundation for countless artistic movements, including the Renaissance, through cities such as Florence and the medieval university city of Bologna.
Italians are understandably proud of their heritage and are renowned as people of great taste and as having an eye for the aesthetic. Their architecture and fashion leave most of the world in their shadow, appearance is very important to them and the majority of Italians will never leave the house without ensuring they are impeccably and elegantly attired.
Italian food, from pizza to pasta, has been adopted by the rest of the world but you will never taste a better pizza anywhere else. As with the rest of mainland Europe meals are eaten late with plenty of wine and preferably al fresco.
Italy is one hour ahead of GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. (There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram).
The international dialling code is +39.
Important information regarding rail travel:
Visitors are often caught unawares by train and transport systems requiring validation. Tickets bought in Italy for Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains are not marked for any particular time or train and become valid only when time-stamped at a validation machine. Without this validation, train operators assume the rider is trying to fare dodge, since the ticket could be reused. So validation is absolutely essential before boarding, and there are small boxes in the station or near the platform. After being time-stamped, the ticket is valid for the amount of time shown on the ticket.