Sicily: Via Francigena from Palermo to Agrigento

8 days self-guided walking tour

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Sicily: Via Francigena from Palermo to Agrigento

8 days self-walking tour

The Magna Via Francigena is not a trip or a holiday, it’s a “journey” of discovery that, like a budding wild flower, slowly opens up to reveal a vibrant, colorful and scented heart. Leave behind the bustling art-filled cities and archaeological sites that line the coasts of Sicily and step by step, village by village traverse one of Italy’s last frontiers. This historical route is the connection of the two major harbors of the past: Agrigento and Palermo, a system of “Trazzere” (old gravel roads) that linked every village of the back country. It is a human adventure where we, the travelers, have to sneak in, knock on the door, ask, and then take time to get to know the genuine character of this land.

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Palermo
As soon as you get settled in your accommodation, step outside and breathe in the incredibly fresh, crisp air of this multicultural city. and in the evening, let all your senses be delighted as you prepare for your phenomenal walking adventure ahead

Day 2 From Santa Cristina Gela to Corleone (19 or 25 kms)
You start the day being transported to Santa Cristina Gela, by the Lake of Piana degli Albanesi. This town is home to a historical community of Albanese people (the largest Arbereshe community in Italy) who still lives and professes its faith here. After a stroll and a local delicacy “cassatella” (fried cannolo) you will start your walk towards Corleone. You climb along the “antica trazzera” (old route) towards the Santuario Maria S.S. del Rosario di Tagliavia. According to legend, in 1800, two shepherds found a rock with the sacred image of the Holy Mary. In the same place, while digging, they later discovered a miraculous spring of water that is said to have healed King Ferdinando I of Bourbon. The Sanctuary, erected in 1841, constitutes a must-stop along the pilgrimage route. The path takes you to Corleone, a town renowned as the birthplace of several Mafia families; it was immortalized by Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather”. While here, it is a must to visit the CIDMA: Mafia and AntiMafia Movement Museum.
Distance: 4,5/6 hours, 19/25km, 500/900m total ascent, 690/770m total descent

Day 3 From Corleone to Prizzi (19 km)
While exiting Corleone, take your time to admire the waterfall “delle due rocche”, 10 mins out of town. Then the path takes you through vineyards and open fields, passing by dry-stone masserie (country farm) where you may encounter farmers who want you to try their freshly made ricotta! From Lake Prizzi a steady climb takes you into town, the perfect opportunity to grab a cannolo with pistachio and candied orange! Yummy!!
Distance: 5 hours, 19 km, 860m total ascent, 430m total descent

Day 4 From Prizzi to Castronovo di SIcilia, transfer to Cammarata (24 or 21 km)
The majority of today’s walk is within the peaceful Carcaci Natural Reserve, home to numerous species of birds of prey. Between the trees, you can see what remains of the abandoned village of Riena, with its oldworld charm and the unaltered symmetry of its cross design. Explore the rural houses, barns, the cozy manor homes and the small stone churchs. In the last part inside the Bosco Comuni (Comuni forest) you encounter the typical “pagliai” (hay)farmers. When you arrive in Castronovo, you get transferred to the hotel in Cammarata (20min). You can shorten today’s walk of 4.5 km with a transfer on request.
Distance: 4,5/5,5 hours, 19.5/24 km, 620/650m ascent, 660/960m descent

Day 5 From Cammarata to Sutera (20 km)
Energize yourself for today’s walk by tasting some local delicacies at the central Bar Sicilia. Your journey then begins along the railway, gradually proceeding uphill to Acquaviva Platani. The last part of the path to Sutera, a little gem on the other side of the rock face in front of you, is along a stunning ridge. Get lost in the maze of alleys and chalk houses of the Arabic neighbourhood, called Rabato, and visit the rich ethnographical museum. Distance: 5 hours, 20 km, 850m total ascent, 820m total descent

Day 6 From Sutera to Racalmuto (22 km)
You descend to the bed of the Platani River, ford it and then climb up the other side to Milena; here the path goes up into the hills that surround the village and gives you a panoramic view of all the valleys nearby. Racalmuto, the destination of the day, is the hometown of the famous writer Leonardo Sciascia.
Distance: 6 hours, 22 km, 920m total ascent, 1080 total descent

Day 7 From Racalmuto to Aragona (11,5 km), train to Agrigento
Today, the last day of the walk, you will pass through through the village of Grotte, where life slowly follows the rhythm of the seasons. A “must do” is to taste the local arancini (fried rice balls filled with ragù, spinach or ham). When you reach Aragona you take the train to Agrigento where you enjoy a free afternoon to explore the old town or the Valley of the Temples.
Distance: 3 hours, 11,5 km, 225m total ascent, 332m total descent

Day 8 Arrivederci Agrigento!
Our services end after breakfast (unless you have booked extra nights) Arrivederci! We wish you a safe trip home

Hightlights and Technical Information
Highlights
  • The enthusiasm, hospitality and pride of the Sicilians
  • The artistic meltin’ pot of chaotic “Balarm” (Palermo in Arabic) and the perfect magnificence of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento
  • All the young people you meet that instead of leaving are taking the challenge to remain and make a living in their hometown
  • The villages full of history, from the hometown of the famous writer Leonardo Sciascia to the Arabic maze of alleys in the historic center of Sutera
  • The pure natural landscape of the backcountry
  • Cannoli: pastry filled with ricotta, pistachios and candied orange
Technical information:

The walks are poorly to moderately marked, often on uneven footpaths, small tracks amongst shrubs and, on a rare occasion, on small gravel roads. Some routes (such as Monte Tiscali) are a bit demanding, with some parts of (easy) climbing being a desolate limestone area, with no springs or villages along the way

Trip grading: Introductory to Moderate – grade 2 :This is a self-guided walk with average daily stages of 3 to 5 hours. The paths are clearly visible and well-marked; there are some sections of the trail which

Luggage transfer: Luggage transfer is included and is provided by the accommodation itself or a local taxi company.

A note on our self guided adventures and Fitness preparation:

Self guided walking or cycling requires individuals to use problem solving skills, be adaptable and have a keen eye. It is recommended that you are comfortable map reading, referring to route notes and that you have a good sense of direction (or are willing to work on improving this!) Sometimes route finding, losing your way, finding it again and asking the locals for help is all part of the adventure. If you’ve never been on a self guided trip, after the first couple of days you will get the hang of if as the vast majority of our first time travellers attest. Please be assured that our written material issued to you for route finding is updated regularly and we provide a 7 day service hotline in the event of any problems. There is a certain level of the unknown that comes with self guided trips; however with a methodical approach potential problems will be averted. The freedom of a self guided trip is something that, once experienced, is sought time and time again.
Fitness preparation: The concept behind most of our trips is active holidays and the fitter you are the more easily you will adjust and enjoy yourself. We expect participants to take responsibility for their fitness and preparations on a consistent basis prior to departure, and INCREASE the regular weekly training schedule in the two months leading up to departure. That way, when you start walking, you will feel relaxed and comfortable and strong, having done more than sufficient preparation for the trip. You will also have more energy to enjoy the views, take photos and explore the sights in your spare time, rather than just make it to the next hotel. During the day is when the most interesting features of interest will be found, and being fit allows you to optimize every situation you encounter. As a minimum, we recommend 40 minutes of aerobic type exercise; running, swimming, biking, hill walking, or gym work two to three times a week for two to six months leading up to your walk. Note the best training is the activity that you are actually going to be doing; walking up and down hill, and cross-country. Practice this as much as possible. Training should be stepped up as you get closer to departure, to an amount you feel appropriate (you don’t want to cause yourself an injury!). Using your gear before departure (boots, day pack, clothing, etc.) gives familiarity and comfort whilst on the walk. It makes sense to know that all your gear ‘works for you’ BEFORE departure, rather than discovering how things work or fit (or don’t!) on the trip you have invested so much in. Use the philosophy of ‘getting fit to go walking’, rather than ‘going on a walk to get fit’, to avoid problems.

Dates, Inclusions, Cost , Supplements

Departure dates: Every day from 01 March  to 25 July and from 1 September to 30 November

Duration: 8 days / 7 nights

Price per person (min 2 people twin share): from A$1,400 to A$1550 (codeITB410) depends on the departure date

What is included:
  • Accommodations in a double room in **/*** hotels, B&B and agriturismi with breakfast
  • Luggage transportation from the hotel to the hotel
  • Two Transfers ( on day 2, 4)
  • Maps, detailed description of the itinerary, GPS and App
  • Pilgrim’s pass
  • 24h phone assistance
Not included:
  • Flights
  • Arrival and Departure transfers
  • Meals and drinks
  • Hotel tourist taxes
  • Insurance and everything not listed as “Included”
Additional Supplements:

Cost per person

  • single room supplement A$200
  • solo traveler supplement A$550
  • arrival and departure airport transfers on request ( private and shared)
  • extra nights with breakfast on request
Accommodation and Meals

Accommodation and Meals:
This tour offers accommodation in pretty B&B and 3* hotels. All rooms are ensuite.

Hotel Tonic – Palermo
A *** star hotel located within walking distance from the main sights and attractions of the city, that will allow you to make the most of your time in Palermo. The hotel has a pleasant vintage feel, a very welcoming staff and very clean rooms. Air conditioning will freshen even the warmest days, and a rich breakfast will make you start your adventure in a good mood.

Hotel Ristorante Leon d’Oro – Corleone
A recently renovated hotel, with finely decorated interiors and wide common spaces. In the middle of the structure lies a big courtyard lined by palm trees. The swimming pool will offer some relax during the warmest days. All rooms have a balcony and have been decorated by a local artist.

Ospitalità Diffusa La Casa di Kokalo – Prizzi
This “Ospitalità Diffusa” accommodation allows you to sleep in apartments located right in the ancient Norman town centre. The owner, Totò, will be happy to welcome you and introduce you to his hometown.

Hotel Halykos – Cammarata
A very quiet hotel, apt for walkers, lying in the middle between Cammarata and San Giovanni Gemini. Rooms are quite spacious and have been recently renovated. There is a restaurant as well, free wifi, welcoming staff. Italian breakfast (also very early, on request)

B&B Piazza – Sutera
Just outside the town centre of Sutera, this is a small B&B (five simple, bright rooms). Some rooms might have their private bathroom just outside the room. Different kinds of breakfast available according to traveller’s preferences. Do not miss the view on the surrounding peak

Hotel Regalpietra – Racalmuto
Right in Racalmuto’s centre: the owners have renovated an ancient noble building reconverting it into a hotel dedicated to the town’s most famous person: Leonardo Sciascia (writer). The staff is used to hosting walkers and pilgrims, and will welcome you in the friendly, familiar atmosphere of this place, relaxing before resuming your walk.

Colleverde Park Hotel – Agrigento
A 4-star hotel that will reward you after your long walk. You will be able to rest in an oasis of tranquillity with ample green spaces, with a view on the Valley of The Temples (some rooms have a view on the archeological site). Enjoy their local food, you have deserved it

Price from: A$1,400

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