28 Apr Polizzi Generosa, Palermo
Behind the more well-known beaches of Cefalù, stands the imposing mountain chain of the Madonie with some of the highest peaks in Sicily, after Mount Etna. Snow tipped between December and February it even offers a small ski resort on Pizzo Carbonara and Piano Battaglia 1,979 metres high.
The area was declared Sicily’s first Nature Reserve in 1989 and is well-equipped for trekking offering beautiful walking trails with spectacular scenery and tranquil surrounds. The local offices propose clear maps and excellent guides who will point out unique flora and fauna. The area is particularly well-known for its Manna, extracted from the Ash tree, once an important and highly nutritious food, today, it is mainly used to sweeten pastry.
As a nature reserve it encompasses a generous collection of picturesque towns including Cefalù, Pollina, Castelbuono, Geraci Siculo, Petralia Soprana, Petralia Sottana, Polizzi Generosa, Sclafani Bagni, Caltavuturo and Collesano, as well as the villages of Gratteri, Isnello, San Mauro Castelverde, Scillato and Lascari.
Many are of Arab Saracen origins that grew under the conquering Normans and house important castles and churches making them a perfect destination for slow and culturally rich travels.
They are also very real, where people live and work. As with most micro regions they have kept their rural lifestyle and traditions that always include local produce and cuisine. Many good restaurants can be found here with exceptionally good food. This means you can combine hiking with cultural visits and succulent food stops.