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 CH of Cirencester on 09/11/2017
Transfer from the airport of Palermo to Tenuta Luogo Marchese or Abbazia Santa Anastasia. Dinner and overnight.
Day 2 - Castelbuono
After breakfast you will meet at the stables and will be matched with a suitable horse.
The journey will begin with an interesting ride along trails surrounded by the Mediterranean olive groves and cork trees. After crossing the river bed, which is almost always dry in summer, you arrive in Castelbuono, in front of the Castle of Ventimiglia.
The city is a medieval town known as the residence of the barons Ventimiglia and still keep the old craft traditions. Once in the town, you will have some free time to relax, to taste typical local products, such as our manna, cheese and traditional desserts. Guests may also participate in a guided tour of the Castle (entrance 4 € per person). 4 hours riding.
Day 3 - Gorges of Tiberius
Today's adventure will take us to the wild and rugged shores of the river Pollina in the territory of San Mauro Castelverde, notorious for his stories of bandits that in the past infested the area, up to the Gorges called in dialect "Miricu", a place highly suggestive where we can descend into the gorges in canoe. 6 hours riding.
Day 4 - Gibilmanna
Ride through the thick forests of cork oaks and holm oaks until you reach the Sanctuary of Gibilmanna (about 800m. above sea level). Visit the Church which houses the famous Madonna of Gagini and free time to rest. The trail continues with many points of interest, nature, and beautiful landscape along the way. 6 hours riding.
Day 5 & 6 - Tour of Madonie Mountains
Depart for a thrilling ride in the woods of the Madonie National Park full of high peaks that reach altitude of almost two thousand meters above sea level. The area hosts a wide variety of plant and animal species such as deer and wild boar, as well as endemic species such as Abies Nebrodensis and giant holly trees.
The ride is of great charm and allows you to enjoy unique landscapes, breathe fresh air, drink water from the springs of the high mountains, and listen to the sound of the forest.
This tour is for experienced riders, and also requires good physical fitness. Taking place mostly on mountain trails, this excursion may be subject to change for reasons related to weather or obstacles along the routes. This can also be altered for less experienced riders.
Overnight stay at an excellent mountain hotel.
At the end of the second day ride back to Luogo Marchese or Abbazia Santa Anastasia, dinner and overnight. 15 hours riding over 2 days.
Day 7 - St. Ambrogio
Meander amid the pastures until you reach St. Ambrogio, a coastal pitoresque village. The trail continues following a path almost to the sea, passing through cultivated fields with olive trees, citrus groves and woods of cork, red and holm oaks. Lunch in a restaurant by the sea is an option based on guest preference. During spring and autumn you can sometimes ride on the beach as it's not so busy with tourists. Swimming in the sea with the horses is also possible, but of course this depends on the weather and sea conditions! Months when it could be possible are April, May, June, September, October and the beginning of November. We can't guarantee it but keep your fingers crossed!
Breakfast and transfer from Tenuta Luogo Marchese or Abbazia Santa Anastasia to the airport of Palermo.
NB - Please note that the itinerary is subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather or volcanic conditions.
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 as some days may involve 8 hours+ in the saddle.
Your horses will be prepared for you each morning but you must be willing to assist with untacking, feeding and watering your horse on rides.
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 either a typical Sicilian agriturismo or a luxurious hotel which offers great comfort. Built in the 19th century, Tenuta Luogo Marchese is set in the Sicilian countryside, 6 minutes by car from the seashore. The old farmhouse, with adjoining a tiny chapel, still retains much of the original structure, characterized by the classic farmhouse, surrounded by palm trees and with a very old wisteria to offer fragrance and freshness. The rooms are divided into double, triple and quadruple rooms, some of them available with a private terrace, some with views, others with colour TV. The rooms are all en-suite with shower and are heated. Breakfast (with local products) is served in the main restaurant each morning. There is a swimming pool for guest use.
The other option is Santa Anastasia, located in a prestigious and renowned winery with a score of very comfortable guest rooms, swimming pool, wellness area. The Relais is a structure of great charm and elegance, in a former Benedictine abbey of the eleventh-century. A glorious, old country estate of 500 hectares, with views of the rugged Sicilian countryside, which stretch down to the sea, it is only a ten minute drive from the coast.
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 holiday. 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 can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the 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 on request.
Visa are not required for U.K. or other European nationals. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on travel insurance, passport and visas issues and emergency issues. They can be reached on 0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk.
The British Embassy can be found at Via XX Settembre 80a, I-00187 Roma RM. Tel: + (39) 06 4220 0001. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Italian Embassy in the U.K can be found at 14 Three Kings Yard, Davies Street, London W1K 4EH. Telephone: (020) 7312 2200. Email: email@example.com.
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.
We advise taking plenty of sunscreen!
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org
None specific but a good level of fitness is recommended.
Voltage is the same as in the UK and most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops.
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 very 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 inset 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
The Stationary Programme is available all year round with Saturday departures.
All year round Saturday to Saturday.
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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.
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 incredibly cultured and refined 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 commandeered 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.