RIDING AT THE FOOT OF ETNA

In the Fluvial Alcantara Park there is a fascinating horse track that passes through narrow gorges and crosses crystalline streams that are a joy for the sight and the mind.

Over recent years a new kind of ecological tourism has developed: horse-trekking, a holiday in close contact with nature and the horse, a sensitive and intelligent animal that takes its lovers to discover new itineraries along lanes and mule tracks that are far away form the mass holiday resorts.
In 2005, the project started called Sicily Horse Tracks, creating a network of tracks through the Madonne Park, Nebrodi Park, Etna and Alcantara, with the aim of promoting the Sicily Apennine area and Etna.
The tracks are not only open to frequent horse riders but also beginners who, perhaps on holiday in a farm holiday centre, want to try an outing on horseback. With all the stables that have opened along the itinerary this is now possible, where the horses can be hired and expert instructors and guides are available to accompany you.
The Alcantara Park was opened in 2001 at the foot of Etna and is a unique spectacle. The Alcantara River gives the name to this natural reserve, which originates from a number of small springs on the Nebrodi Mountains near Floresta, at about 1500 meters above sea level. After crossing the entire valley, these precious waters flow into the Ionian Sea near the ancient town of Naxos, the first Greek-Sicilian colony founded in 735 B.C. Here the famous bays of the Arab “Al-qantar” bridge rise up, which gave the name to this beautiful tributary. Over the years the flowing river has eroded away the hard volcanic basalt and created certain stretches with sheer walls, which are known as gorges, and have revealed the heart of the lava flows. Following the river and these gorges on horseback, the ridge is reached which is a divider between the provinces of Catania and Messina. It is also well worth riding through the villages of Randazzo, Mojo and Castiglione which are separated by luxuriant vineyards and olive groves. Near Mojo there are several different itineraries available along the track that leads to the ancient volcanic cone, which is still active today, and typical for the reddish-brown soil that has been created by the continuous eruptions.
Another track to discover the warm Sicilian nature is the “Gurna dell’Alcantara”, where you will be inebriated by the perfumes of the countryside and will find the famous ‘Cuba’ of St. Dominica, a Byzantine church built between the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. and recently renovated.

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