A magnificent tour in the months of March and September, just before the spring and autumn equinoxes, during which we’ll be visiting two of the most beautiful villages in Italy: Montalbano Elicona and Novara di Sicilia, in the province of Messina. This area lies between the Peloritani Mountains and the Nebrodi Natural Park north of Mount Etna, bordering on the Alcantara Valley. We’ll have the chance to watch the sunrise from a uniquely beautiful, bewitching, mysterious natural location: the Argimusco Plateau. Sitting at an altitude of 1200 metres, the Plateau is home to a number of rocks in outlandish human and animal shapes, such as the Eagle, the Baboon, the Snake and the Swan, as well as the Praying Goddess, the Soldier, the Priest, etc. The itinerary also includes a stroll through the Malabotta Forest, the oldest in Sicily and home to the Patriarchs: large veteran downy oak trees with shapes that sometimes appear monstrous. We’ll also be able to visit an old seventeenth-century mill and watch it in operation grinding wheat for flour, and to enjoy some typical, traditional country fare, from starters through to dessert. Photography aficionados will also have the chance to capture some unique moments, with breath-taking landscapes stretching from Mount Etna to the seven islands in the Aeolian archipelago.
- Spring Equinox
- Autumn Equinox
- Argimusco Plateau
- Malabotta wood
- Montalbano Elicona
- Novara di Sicilia
- Alcantara Valley
Meals as descripted
Transfers or rental cars to and from the airport or train station
- Identity card or passport
- Requirements required by the Italian State for anti covid prevention 19
- Clothing suitable for the mountains
Have no walking problems
Mountain clothing is recommended
- Comfortable non-slip shoes
- windproof jacket
Day 1 – Tripi / Montalbano Elicona
We’ll arrive by 2:00 p.m. at the hotel near Montalbano Elicona, check in and settle into our rooms. At 3.00 p.m., we’ll set off by coach for Montalbano Elicona, voted Italy’s most beautiful village in 2015. We’ll meet the guide there to start our visit to the village. As we stroll through the narrow alleys, we’ll be able to admire the little houses, until we reach the mediaeval castle of Frederick III of Sicily, inside which is a small museum containing ancient weapons and faithful reproductions of the attire of the royals who once enjoyed spending the summer here. Our guide will have plenty of myths and legends to tell us about, and they’ll take us to the Chapel containing what is thought to be the tombstone of Arnaldo di Villanova, the alchemist shrouded in mystery who was the physician and trusted friend of Frederick III.As we continue on through the village streets, we’ll be able to admire the sun setting over the sea. In the evening, we’ll return to the hotel, where we’ll enjoy a typical dinner with local seasonal dishes, before our overnight stay.
Day 2 – Tripi / Argimusco Plateau / Malabotta Forest
Our alarm clocks will be set for the early hours of the morning, when we’ll take a coach to the Argimusco Plateau, at an altitude of 1200 metres. We’ll meet up there with our guides specialised in nature, photography and astrophysics, to start out on a thrilling walk along an 800-metre route. The path that will take us to the best observation point will be lit with our electric torches, and from the earliest rays of sunrise, we’ll be accompanied by the first of the birds to awaken and by other animals from the area preceding the nature reserve. As we approach the first of the rock formations, we’ll spot the easily recognisable Eagle, followed by other rocks shaped like human figures and animals. When we reach our destination, we’ll take a seat on a little stretch of rocks, as we wait for the sun to rise. The landscape will start lighting up slowly, until we get the first glimpse of our star, the sun, which on these special days rises near Rocca Salvatesta, the highest mountain peak in the province of Messina and considered an important equinoctial point in ancient times. Our learned guides, who are experts on the local area and on natural and astronomical phenomena, will explain to us how the stars exercised such a strong influence over the lives of ancient peoples. Once the sun is high enough in the sky, lighting up the whole of the surrounding landscape, we’ll begin our visit to the site, admiring its extraordinary beauty. After our visit, our batteries will be recharged with a delicious breakfast featuring local biscuits, jam tarts, fruit juices, warm milk and coffee, which we can enjoy accompanied by magnificent views of Mount Etna. After breakfast, we’ll head to the entrance of the Malabotta Forest Oriented Nature Reserve, for a trekking trip of about 3 kilometres, which will take us to Pizzo Volturi, just before the Alcantara Valley, offering splendid views of Mount Etna, where we can admire the “Patriarchs”, the large veteran oak trees, with strange, bewitching, sometimes monstrous shapes. On the way back, we’ll stop for lunch featuring typical local produce such as wheat bread from Montalbano Elicona, provola cheese from Basicò, salami from the Nebrodi Mountains, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and olives preserved in oil, etc. Back in the hotel, we’ll have some free time to relax. We’ll have dinner and stay overnight in the hotel.
Day 3 – Tripi / Novara di Sicilia
After breakfast in the hotel, we’ll set off by coach for Novara di Sicilia, renowned for the warm, hospitable welcome offered by the locals, and also famous for the Maiorchino tournament, an age-old competition in which two teams each roll a 9-kilogram wheel of the local Maiorchino cheese along the streets and down the steps of the village. The team whose cheese crosses the finishing line first is the winner. We’ll visit the Mother Church of Santa Maria Assunta, and with the parish priest’s permission, we’ll be able to go down into the crypt below the high altar, to see the mummies of the Capuchin Fathers and the interesting Cathedral museum next to it. We’ll visit a seventeenth-century water mill, where Mario the miller will set the horizontal wheel in motion to show us how flour is made by grinding the wheat. This interesting experience will take us on a trip back in time. This will be followed by lunch in “Al Castello” restaurant, where we can enjoy typical, traditional dishes and try “u jdutu d’Apostulu” (the Apostle’s finger), a dessert similar to the famous Sicilian cannoli and made with fresh ricotta and chocolate.In the afternoon, we’ll head back to the hotel for a farewell dinner and our last overnight stay.
Day 4 – Tripi
After breakfast, we’ll vacate our rooms;
the tour ends here.