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Sicily's Madonie Mountains: perfect for a peaceful walking break

Monday, 20 February 2012 9:53 AM

If you're hoping for a peaceful holiday spent walking in Italy, Sicily's Madonie Mountains are an ideal place to choose. Little-visited, they offer splendid scenery, tranquil paths and some wonderful wildlife to spot.

Located in northern Sicily, these quiet peaks are ideally suited to self-guided walking holidays. By choosing a break that allows you to walk independently, you can enjoy a perfect balance between having the freedom to travel at your own pace and experiencing the best trails in a carefully designed itinerary.

Your break walking in Sicily will begin in Petralia Sottana, a historic town characterised by tiny shops, narrow streets and pretty churches. You can spend the first day of your getaway getting to know this attractive settlement - but you could also pay a visit to its sister town, Petralia Soprana.

The second-highest town in Sicily, Petralia Soprana boasts similar attractions to its counterpart and is a joy to explore. If you wish, you can embark on a walk that takes in both destinations, as well as a section of the Madonie Park.

Your next route will lead you into the heart of the park, where your second hotel is situated. Taking a combination of woodland trails and countryside paths, you'll cross a scenic, remote valley en route to your accommodation.

Once settled here, you can head out the following day for one of the itinerary's most exciting routes. Indeed, today you will have the opportunity to traverse a circular path along part of the Sentiero Italia - a trail made all the more exciting because of the presence of endemic Nebrodi Firs.

In years gone by, these trees covered a large area of the Madonie Mountains. While this is no longer the case, you can see approximately 20 during this part of the journey. Expect the beginning of the route to be somewhat steep, but soon it will become less so - and you'll enjoy some amazing views.

The next day's path will see you surrounded by some of the Madonie's tallest peaks, wending your way through a limestone valley. You'll also make your way through the Pomo Plain, which is home to woods filled with 300 year old holly trees and scenic green pastures.

You can either stop once you reach Agrituristica Bergi, which is the next place you will stay, or carry on to Castelbuono. This busy town has a number of attractions, including a fortress well worth visiting and excellent cake shops.

Leaving the heart of the Madonie Park behind the following day, you will walk across a small range of hills to reach the last hotel on your itinerary. The afternoon can involve doing nothing more than relaxing and enjoying the splendid scenery.

Your final day can be spent at the hotel, or you can opt to take one last walk in this glorious setting. If you would like to stretch your legs, you'll be able to stroll to the sanctuary of Gibilmanna, where you can decide whether to take the bus or walk to the coast at Cefalu.

This historic town is home to a number of attractions, such as the early mosaics you can discover in its Norman cathedral. There are also further walking opportunities here, as you can ascend to La Rocca, where you'll find a ruined 13th-century castle that offers excellent views.

For tranquil, off the beaten track walking getaways, the Madonie Mountains have everything you could wish for.

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