Sicily on Horseback offers horseback riding vacations in Sicily, an island off the coast of Italy in the central Mediterranean Sea. On these Equitrekking Travel riding holidays, you trek without danger through the unique environments of Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world, the stunning Madonie Mountains and Nebrodi Mountains. In June 2013, Mount Etna was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Horseback tours are available year-round. From February to November, ride well trained Sicilian horses to discover the amazing Madonie, Nebrodi and Etna Volcano National Parks with the history, traditions, people, ancient horse culture and incredible food of Sicily. Come in July and August to discover the Madonie Park, staying in two different country houses with swimming pools. In September, participate in one of the oldest and widest Pilgrimages on horseback in the world, which attracts riders from all over Europe.
These Italy horseback riding vacations offer scenic diversity with routes taking you through forests, up and down mountain tracks and across open countryside. The Madonie Mountains are called the “Dolomities” of Sicily for their sharp and rocky carbonate limestone. They have the greatest bio-diversity in all of Italy. The woodland and mountains are home to deer, wild boar and wildcats, golden eagles, peregrine falcons and colorful wild flowers. Contrasting them are the Nebrodi Mountains, which are soft and round, full of natural lakes and ponds, and almost totally covered by ancient forests of beech and oak. Mount Etna offers a distinctive natural environment with craters, ancient and young lava fields, grottoes, forests of beech and birch, lots of endemic plants, and more.
On these Italy riding tours, visit ancient villages in the mountains, many of which were founded by the Greeks, Arabs, Normans and Romans. There are castles, cobblestone roads and ancient historical centers that can be visited on horseback. You'll experience authentic Sicily, where farmers still herd cows, sheep and goats on the hills and make delicious homemade cheese and olives are cultivated for oil and fruit, and grapes for wine. Sicily has the most historic and rich European horse culture, which you’ll experience on these travels.
Stay in 3 and 4 star Country Houses (agriturismo). Sicily on Horseback's base is located in the Madonie Park not far from the historic town of Cefalù. The Country Houses have been hand selected by Franco and Paolo for the quality of their services, location and the overall quality of their food. Some of them have a swimming pool and one has a very good Spa. While some have cozy rooms, others are more simple, but all are clean and comfortable. All rooms have their own private bathroom with hot showers.
You'll change accommodations every night during the treks, as these are progressive riding vacations. During July and August Ride & Stay Weeks, there are only two accommodations used.
Top level cuisine with four-course dinners including wine. Franco, as a seasoned travel journalist, and Paolo, an ex-chef and pizza expert, know exceptional top local products and good Sicilian mountain food. All menus give you the opportunity to taste a wide variety of the best dishes of the “infinite” Sicilian mountain cuisine. Feast on fresh vegetables (many collected seasonally in the wilds of the park), local cheeses, modern or traditional pasta dishes, a huge variety of local meat dishes with pig, beef, veal, or chicken grilled, barbecued, roasted or cooked fresh.
For vegetarians, there are splendid menu options thanks the huge varieties of Sicilian dishes without any meat. All meals are homemade without preservatives or any industrial additives. At end of your four course dinner, try Sicilian desserts–– very popular with travelers. The wine is also very good, including local reds (whites on request) to accompany lunch and dinner.
Horses & Tack
Sicily on Horseback’s horses are all trained with the Gentle Horsemanship method of the “Six Keys of Harmony” from well-known U.S. trainer Ed Dabney. Franco and Paolo, the owners of Sicily on Horseback, studied at Dabney’s US Ranch.
The horses are all Sicilian Indigenous breeds, including the Sanfratellano Horse, which is runs wild in the Nebrodi mountains, and the Sicilian Pure Oriental Horse, of which there are only 191 left. Their stud book dates from 1876. These are the some of the best endurance horses in the world!
Handmade in 2013, you’ll ride in identical trekking saddles with a front strap and crupper, huge waterproof saddle bags to assure the maximum of comfort for the horses and to allow English and Western riders to go up and down in the mountains with a saddle that never moves and with all the gear you need. Your luggage will be transported for you each day.
Biking, Bird Watching, Cooking Lessons (including pasty making), Photography Lessons, Six Keys of the Harmony of Horses, Sea Fishing, Golf (nearby), High Speed Internet, Spa, Wine Tastings, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Sight-seeing Tours.
Riding Vacation Itineraries
7 day Madonie Park Tour–– a perfect mix of high mountains and nature. This riding vacation challenges with technical riding with some difficult passages (not difficult for our horses). Horseback ride to medieval villages, meet with shepherds, enjoy cheese tastings and explore this astonishing mountain range.
7 day Madonie, Nebrodi and Etna Park Tour–– Cross the mountains of Sicily from West to East. Everyday you ride through a different natural environment, discovering an unexpected European wilderness with much diversity of landscapes, natural wonders, wildlife and scattered medieval and Roman villages in the background. The riding is less challenging and there are no difficult trails, but there are some longer trots and canters, so you’ll need to be more fit for longer rides then for the Madonie Park Tour.
July & August Stay & Ride Weeks–– During the hottest days of the year there is good riding up in the mountains, where there are cool winds and the temperatures are not too hot. Plus, there’s a swimming pool always handy. Enjoy three-hour trail rides daily and guided cultural visits or choose to just to relax in the swimming pool or Spa. These weeks are good for intermediate and advanced riders and also for beginners that “want to grow” as trail riders with our mountain trail rides and may wish to add in some lessons and Gentle Horsemanship clinics.
September Pilgrimage on Horseback Tour–– Venture to Capizzi village in the Nebrodi Mountains and participate in one of the oldest and widest pilgrimages on horseback in the world. Last year there were 740 riders from all over Sicily. This riding vacation allows you to discover genuine Sicilian people and learn about their devotion to Saint Antony from Padova, who is remembered during this pilgrimage.
Custom Riding Tours–– Great for couples, families or groups, enjoy a holiday on horses designed for your specific needs and privacy. Available for all riding levels. Enjoy riding from 2 hours to as long as you desire on a custom tour.
History, beautiful beaches (beach horseback riding is available upon request for custom vacations), archaeological sites, natural areas, good food, wine and cheese and special traditions abound in Sicily. There are many activities for non-riding guests, including guided tours in the area and in the national park, hiking, sight-seeing and shopping or just relaxing with a good book in this Mediterranean paradise.
Near Madonie is Palermo. You’ll have a short tour of this historic city during the transfer from the Palermo Airport. Other great places to visit include Cefalù and Castelbuono with its monasteries and churches and the amazing Ventimiglia Castle, where there was a historic horse academy, the “Academy of the Star”, with the best horse trainers of the Empire. Etna, Petralia Soprana, Capizzi and other destinations of historical and cultural significance abound.