Sicily: walking in the Madonie Mountains

8 days self-guided walking tour

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Sicily: walking in the Madonie Mountains

8 days self-walking tour

Wonderful open landscapes dotted with medieval villages and hamlets, the walks are along footpaths, mule tracks and some strade bianche, (small gravel roads). You will cross a few small hamlets and some larger villages. On your journey, climb up rugged cliffs for breathtaking views of small villages perched like eagle’s nests amongst the steep slopes. Walk this timeless landscape at ease, as daily life passes slowly here, following the endearing rhythm of the seasons. You shall enjoy deliciously fresh food, prepared by locals who still live off the land, tending their vegetable gardens, olive groves and vineyards and harvesting figs, almonds and hazelnuts. From the highest mountains to the emerald sea, this is a first-rate hiking experience.

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Petralia Sottana
Arrive in Sicily and breathe in the warm island breeze and aroma of the outstanding local flora. If pre-arranged with us, a private transfer takes you from the airport to your accommodation in Petralia Sottana, in the south of the Monti Madonie. Enjoy your first dinner in a local restaurant of your choice trying the many flavours of the tasty regional cuisine.

Day 2 Transfer to Portella Ferrone and walk to Pomieri (10-13 km)
A short transfer in the morning will lead you to Portella Ferrone, where today’s walk starts, taking you into the heart of the Madonie Mountains. A sturdy climb through wooded hills leads you up to a 1.500 metres high pass to your rustic accommodation at Pomieri. Immersed in the woods, this isolated mountain hotel offers outstanding high elevation panoramas. During springtime walks, look down at the limestone rocks and marvel at the
gorgeous assortment of wild orchids.
Challenge: 4 hours, 10 km, 667m ascent, 320m descent

Day 3 Pomieri loop via Madonna degli Angeli or Monte San Salvatore walk (15 km)
Today’s walk starts off on a fairly steep and rough surface but it eases out as you reach the higher lands where views begin to unfold and you follow panoramic dirt roads and well-marked trails, making a loop around the fascinating Vallone degli Angeli. Today you will walk for 11-13,6 km.
From Vallone you can take a detour to Scalone from which you have a good view of Polizzi Generosa and valleys located to the North of the Madonie Mountains. Monte Salvatore is one of the highest peaks of the Madonie Mountains, from the top there is a spectacular 360° view of the central part of Sicily. You can also admire the Sanctuary of Madonna dell’Alto, a regular destination for religious pilgrimages. Part of the route follows the
long distance ‘Sentiero Italia’ where you can still find a few examples of the Nebrodi Fir tree, that once covered a vast section of the uplands.
Challenge: 5 hours, 15 km, 763m ascent, 754m descent

Day 4 Pomieri to Rocca di Gonato (9 km)
Climb from Pomieri to the “Piano Battaglia” plateau (1.700 metres), a well-known area which name derives from a battle which took place here in the 11th century between the Arabs and Normans. Take a large circular tour around the picturesque Monte Ferro (1.900 metres) before walking down to a one-of-a-kind agriturismo (farm) where you will spend the night.
Challenge: 3 hours, 9 km, 383m ascent, 442m descent

Day 5 Gonato to Castelbuono (13 km)
Bid adieu to the lovely Madonie Mountains an descend to the hills around Castelbuono. A short and easy descent brings you to Agriturismo Bergi. Here you can spend the afternoon relaxing into the village of Castelbuono. Do not miss a visit to the nearby medieval village of Castebuono. Stroll along ancient narrow streets and squares for a true taste of small-town Sicily.
Challenge: 5 hours, 13 km, 206m ascent, 635m descent

Day 6 Rest day in Castelbuono
After 4 days of walking, today you will have the chance of taking your own time, surrounded by the wonderful countryside of Castelbuono. Bask in the sun at poolside or enjoy one of the many activities offered by the organic farm where you are staying. You might take a cooking class, learning how to prepare delicious Sicilian food, as well as visit the agriturismo’s laboratories for the production of jams and honey, or just taste homemade wines and oils. If you feel like you still want to be more active, then you can be driven to Castelbuono, starting point for a guided tour of the town or for walks and bike rides

Day 7 Cefalù round walk (3 km)
After breakfast, a short transfer takes you to the bus stop in Castelbuono where you board the bus with your luggage to Cefalù. Check in at your hotel and explore the town’s breathtaking Norman Cathedral and awe-inspiring Byzantine mosaics. Climb the ancient fortifications of the Rocca or go for a refreshing swim on the long sandy beach in front of the hotel. To end this fabulous walking trip celebrate with a delicious dinner in one of
Cefalù’s many fine fish restaurants.
Challenge: 1.5 hours, 3 km, 207m ascent, 203m descent

Day 8 Arrivederci Cefalù
The tour ends after breakfast unless you have booked extra services with us. To get to the airport you can go either by train or taxi.

Hightlights and Technical Information
Highlights
  • Wonderful open landscapes dotted with medieval villages and hamlets
  • Authentic accommodations in traditional farms
  • Gorgeous flora and fauna
  • A rich history brought to life in castles, churches and museums
  • Cefalù, vibrant fishing town with a fabulous beach
  • Warm, welcoming locals
  • Mouthwatering Sicilian culinary specialties
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 April  to 25 July and from 1 September to 31 October 2020

Duration: 8 days / 7 nights

Price per person (min 2 people twin share): A$1,400 (codeIT60)

What is included:
  • Accommodations in a double room in **/*** hotels, B&B and agriturismi with breakfast
  • Luggage transportation from the hotel to the hotel
  • 3 dinners / 2 packet lunch
  • Transfer Petralia Sottana-Portella Ferrone; transfer Castelbuono-Castelbuono bus stop
  • Maps, detailed description of the itinerary, GPS and App
  • 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 traveller 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.

Accommodation layout: 2 night in Monte Maccione Coop. Turistica ENIS in Oliena;  3 night in Hotel Sant Elene in Dorgali; 2 night in Hotel l’Oasi in Cala Gonone

Daily breakfast and 5 dinners included…

Price from: A$1,400

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