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Areas of Natural Beauty

The Madonie Mountains, Sicily's highest mountain range.

Villas in Sicily in the Madonie Mountains >>

MadonieThe Parco delle Madonie, situated south of Cefalu, was the second natural reserve to be established in Sicily. It incorporates 15 towns and villages including Polizzi Generosa, the twin Petralia towns, Soprana and Sottana, Gangi, Castellana Sicula, Castelbuono, and Isnello.

Many of these towns have Mediaeval origins thanks to the noble land-owning families that owned huge estates and built castles in the area. Today several castles and many wonderful churches bear witness to this history.

The park covers some 35,000 hectares and is generally mountainous – there are 6 mountains over 1,500m and several others well over 1,000m. The highest, Pizzo Carbonara is 1,979m, second in Sicily only to the mighty Etna (3,323m). As a result, in winter the park is home to three ski pistes.

Another important feature of the Madonie Park is its flora. Indeed, there are over 2,600 different species of plants, many of which are endemic to the area. The colours are particularly beautiful in autumn and spring.

Land over 1,500m is dominated by the Madonie Forest while lower down the slopes, the locals continue to pursue millennial agricultural activities including sheep and cattle farming and the cultivation of wheat, olives and fruit.

One tradition of particular interest in Castelbuono is the production of “manna”, a whitish resin that drips from ash trees when the bark is cut. It is often left to flow and creates stalactitic forms before being collected. Traditionally it was believed to have excellent curative properties for stomach problems, but now is generally used to sweeten local delicacies.

The Madonie's gastronomic tradition is second to none, relying as it does on local produce for prime ingredients. The meat, sausages, salami, cheese, olives, mushrooms, and fresh seasonal vegetables are all excellent while some of Sicily's best wine is produced nearby.

The Madonie Park lends itself to walking and hiking with many wonderful routes varying in difficulty and length. Other activities, such as horse-riding and mountain-biking are also fairly common. For children there is also a wonderful adventure playground (Il Parco Avventura) near Petralia. Ropeladder-walking, tree-climbing and all sorts of fun are to be had! There are picnic areas and, if you phone ahead, you can request some local products, such as cheeses, hams, sausages etc. to be waiting for you! 

If you are looking for a slightly alternative Sicily, one that does not really exist in the popular imagination, the Madonie mountains will offer a great deal for contemplation thanks to its landscapes, its people and their way of life that has relatively little in common with that of coastal city-dwelling Sicilians.

Villas in Sicily in the Madonie Mountains >>

 

Good ThinkingCastelbuono, with its imposing castle, is a good half-day trip and good fun for children to explore. The town also has a series of highly-rated restaurants, including Nangalarruni in Via delle Confraternite, 7.

 1/44 A magnificent view of Mount Etna seen from the Madonie Mountains.  2/44 Spectacular views of the Tyrrhenian Sea from the Madonie Mountains.  3/44 The Madonie Mountains is also sheep country!  4/44 Walking in the Madonie Mountains.  5/44 A snowy scene in the Madonie with a smoking Etna in behind.  6/44 Arrival at the top of the Madonie Mountains!  7/44 Views over Petralia Soprana.  8/44 The splendid Chiesa Madre in Petralia Soprana.  9/44 The bell tower of the Chiesa Madre in Petralia Soprana.  10/44 The Chiesa Madre and its surrounding buildings, Petralia Soprana.  11/44 Mass in the Chiesa Madre in Petralia Soprana.  12/44 Washing day in Petralia Soprana!  13/44 The shady portico of the Chiesa Madre in Petralia Soprana.  14/44 Mass is over in Petralia Soprana!  15/44 A view over the rooftops of Petralia Soprana in Madonie Mountains.  16/44 Old friends shooting the breeze in Petralia Soprana.  17/44 Colourful balconies in Petralia Soprana.  18/44 Views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the coast of Sicily from Gratteri.  19/44 Gratteri's lovely high street!  20/44 Views from Gratteri to the sea.  21/44 The mediaeval rooftops of Gratteri in the Madonie Mountains.  22/44 Beautiful colours at sunset in the Madonie Mountains.  23/44 Collesano in the Madonie Mountains.  24/44 A pastoral scene, with Pizzo Carbonara (1,979m) behind.  25/44 Collesano nestling under the Madonie Mountains.  26/44 Polizzi Generosa seen with the Madonie Mountains behind.  27/44 The Cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore in Polizzi Generosa.  28/44 A spectacular view of the mountains surrounding Polizzi Generosa.  29/44 A typical street in the lovely Madonie town of Polizzi Generosa.  30/44 High above the clouds in the Madonie.  31/44 The Madonie Park is a paradise for walkers.  32/44 The moon rising over the Madonie Mountains.  33/44 The impregnable castle of Sperlinga in the Madonie.  34/44 Gangi in the Madonie is well worth a visit.  35/44 Mount Etna rising in the east, seen from the Madonie Mountains.  36/44 Exploring the woods of the Madonie Mountains.  37/44 Explaining safetly rules and regulations!  38/44 A final adjustment of protective gear...  39/44 Having fun at the Madonie Parco Avventura.  40/44 Protective harnesses mean kids are always strapped on.  41/44 Fun for all the family!  42/44 Tarzanesque swinging!  43/44 The woods and mountain air make for a great day out.  44/44 Children of all ages can have fun at the Parco Avventura.