Italy Sicilian Sojourn

An authentic taste of rural Sicily.Discover rural Sicily with a holiday in the beautiful Madonie mountains. The Camilleri family's farm offers charming, rustic accommodation. Holidays here are tailor made to suit each set of clients and you will have the opportunity to ride on trails across the mountains that have been used for centuries. Mark, Andrea and Pippa have set out to create a special, relaxed environment in which you can not just ride, but learn of Sicily's fascinating history and taste some of the best food in Italy! There are opportunities to visit Sicilian Feast days such as the famed 'Taratata' festival of the horse in May.

The Riding

The riding is in the beautiful Madonie mountains over trails that will take riders to a variety of interesting destinations and stunning views. The Camilleri family have a selection of home bred and rescue horses who are essentially part of the family and available to riders who will be comfortable in walk, trot and canter and can cope with up to three hours in the saddle. More novice riders are of course also welcome and rides can be tailored to suit as groups are kept small. Riding is combined with a great itinerary of visiting some of Sicily's fascinating sights and holidays are on an all inclusive basis with all meals and drinks included.

Accommodation

The farm has 4 charming en suite guest bedrooms which open onto the sunny terrace overlooking the hills and the herd of horses grazing on the hillside. Breakfast is taken in the farmhouse with the Camilleri family and lunches and dinners are taken at a selection of superb local restaurants and farms giving full board an unusual and delghtful twist. The farm is situated in a quiet area about 3kms from the mountain village of Alia and this holiday will appeal to those seeking a taste of authentic Mediterranean rural life.

Itineraries below are a sample of a typical holiday which can be tailored to suit individual groups, if there is a place in Sicily that you would like to visit particularly excursions can be arranged with Mark on site.

The 7 night itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Catania or Palermo from where you will be met and transferred to Pippas Paddock. If there should be enough time to ride, a short afternoon ride will be available. In the evening dine with the family at the local pizzeria in town. If arrival is very late evening, dinner will be served at Pippa's Paddock.

Day 2: Take a morning ride, then after lunch in the afternoon ride to the famous archeological Gurfa Caves, carved out by prehistoric man over 7000 years ago. In the evening enjoy the food prepared by a popular Sicilian chef in a lovely garden restaurant.

Day 3: After breakfast, head out for a long ride up the valley and across into the nearby valley towards the town of Valledolmo. On the way back stop for a BBQ lunch on the mountain top and a make visit to a local small Sicilian farm. In the evening dine out in a nearby town and enjoy some superb local hospitality.

Day 4: Take a break from the saddle to enjoy an all day tour of Palermo, visiting some of the many beautiful and fascinating sights of the Sicilian capital. You will visit colourful markets for shopping, places of historic interest, taste some typical local specialities…. Basically take in the heart and soul of all that is Sicilian in this vibrant and somewhat crazy city. Lunch at a fascinating restaurant in the heart of traditional Palermo.
In the evening dine at "Chaplin's" where Giacomino, our host, takes extreme pride in his cuisine and especially in seafood (other food available). We guarantee you won't be able to eat all that is served !!

Day 5: After breakfast, take a ride up the mountain and proceed along the centuries old trail to a nearby village. The ride is around 4 hours long. The afternoon is free. The evening meal will be in the village of Roccapalumba (Trans: “Rock of the doves”). Before going for dinner at the local pizzeria, itself a very interesting 16th century converted mill, visit a planetarium and star observation centre. The views of the clear Mediterranean night sky provides a memorable holiday experience.

Day 6: Take a leisurely morning ride down the valley and enjoy the Sicilan countryside arriving at Mercato Bianco. This tiny village of about 500 inhabitants is one of those places where the proverbial “time has stood still” thoughts can’t help but spring to mind. Except for the odd car, nothing can have changed here for at least a hundred years. Visit family friend Toti, at his picturesque little farmhouse. Lunch is all fresh, homegrown, organic, genuine Sicilian food, cooked by Toti himself. After a multi course meal with homemade wine, we take a well-earned rest on Toti's terrace and start the return journey.
In the evening it is into town for a light meal. After that farmhouse lunch that's all you will need!

Day 7: After breakfast, ride into the neighbouring valley with a picnic on the way. The last evening will be spent wining and dining at a BBQ on the terrace overlooking the Gurfa valley. Often friends of the Camilleris who the guests always get to meet and know, come along and join in.

Day 8: Transfer back to the airport in time for your homeward flight.

4 night short break

Day 1: Arrive Catania or Palermo from where you will be met and transferred to Pippas Paddock. If there should be enough time to ride, a short afternoon ride will be available. In the evening dine with the family at the local pizzeria in town. If arrival is very late evening, dinner will be served at Pippa's Paddock.

Day 2; In the afternoon ride to the famous archeological Gurfa Caves, carved out by prehistoric man over 7000 years ago. After a light lunch at Pippa's Paddock take a ride up the mountain side for some splendid views of the Madonie mountains. In the evening you will be taken to a 1500 year-old town founded by the Arabs on a mountain top and dine at a restaurant situated in the historic heart of Sicily.

Day 3: Take a leisurely morning ride down the valley and enjoy the Sicilan countryside arriving at Mercato Bianco. This tiny village of about 500 inhabitants is one of those places where the proverbial “time has stood still” thoughts can’t help but spring to mind. Except for the odd car, nothing can have changed here for at least a hundred years. Visit family friend Toti, at his picturesque little farmhouse. Lunch is all fresh, homegrown, organic, genuine Sicilian food, cooked by Toti himself. After a multi course meal with homemade wine, we take a well-earned rest on Toti's terrace and start the return journey.
In the evening it is into town for a light meal. After that farmhouse lunch that's all you will need!

Day 4: After breakfast ride around the north side of the mountain. Here, the vegetation is denser. For lunch it's a short drive to a small family cheese factory and sample some appetisers and local wine. Our last evening will be spent wining and dining at a BBQ on the terrace overlooking the Gurfa valley.

Day 5: Transfer back to the airport in time for your homeward flight..

Optional excursions which can be arranged with Mark and Andrea can include:

Cefalu by Night, excursion and evening meal to replace one of the local meals. Cefalu is considered the "Riviera" of the Sicilian North Coast - 70 euros includes transport and your dinner in a top-class restaurant.

A "Festa" excursion on Sunday. There are village feasts on most Sundays in Sicily. These are open-air festivities worth a visit. We try to choose ones with horse shows or displays. - 45 euros includes transport and lunch at a local restaurant..

The Taratata

The penultimate weekend in May of each year sees the Taratata festival when you have the opportunity to combine your riding holiday with a visit to the most famed Sicilian festival of the horse, dating back to the time of the moorish invasion and occupation of Sicily which is still reflected in the architecture and agriculture of the region. Frenzied sword dancing and a spectacular parade of horses are just two of the features of this festival which will provide a highlight of your stay. Mark, Andrea and Pippa will be able to provide you with the historical detail and cultural facts behind the Taratata to ensure you get the most out of your visit.
Ask us about dates and prices for 2012.

Guest opinion: 'This is a very small farmhouse operation with 4 guestrooms. The horses live on the hillside outside the house and most are rescue horses. Mark is very helpful and has great knowledge of Sicily. The riding was over some arid and rough terrain and we moved on fairly quickly as rides are small and tailored to ability they asked me each time if I was happy to canter before they set off. They have some horses suited to novices and adapt their programme accordingly. The horses were in good condition and we stopped at troughs en route to water them. The lunch was the best food I ate in the whole of my week in Sicily'. Jenny

What to bring

Jodhpurs or riding trousers, chaps or half chaps, sun cream, light waterproof, riding hat and sturdy boots. Although rarely insisted upon outside the UK, you should always wear your hat whilst mounted. Some hard hats are available in all our riding establishments, but you are advised to bring your own.

Riding: English style saddles and bridles. This holiday can cater for all levels of rider but to get the most out of the riding we would recommend it for riders able to walk, trot and canter confidently.