Roam the pure natural landscape of Sicily’s rural backcountry
Stay in villages full of history, such as Sutera, with its Arabic maze of alleys
Experience the enthusiasm, hospitality and pride of the Sicilian people
Try traditional Cannoli pie filled with ricotta, pistachios and candied orange
Immerse yourself in the artistic melting pot of chaotic Palermo and the magnificence of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento
Hiking the Magna Via Francigena
The Magna Via Francigena is not a trip or a holiday, it’s a “journey” of discovery that, like a budding wild flower, slowly opens up to reveal a vibrant, colourful and scented heart. Leave behind the bustling art-filled cities and archaeological sites that line the coasts of Sicily and step by step, village by village, traverse one of Italy’s last frontiers.
As the main overland connection between the north and the south coast, the ancient road between Agrigento and Palermo was a historically important trade route in Sicily which facilitated movement of people, animals and goods across the island. The Magna Via connected the two major harbours of the past: Agrigento and Palermo, via a system of Trazzere (old gravel roads) that linked every village of the backcountry. Over time, the route was shaped by the successive invading forces of Greeks, Arabs and Normans, and was used for millenia by pilgrims and travellers alike.
To walk the pilgrim route today means to explore authentic Sicily at a slower pace, as people did in the past centuries, and discover the very heart of the island with its hidden gems: archaeological and natural sites as well as masterpieces of art set amidst the rugged beauty of inland Sicily. Step out of your comfort zone and welcome the casual, unexpected and unorthodox and get to know the genuine character of this enchanting, controversial island.
|8 DAYS / 7 NIGHTS||From €820 per person sharing*
*Discounts available for triple rooms. Please enquire for prices.
||Selected 3* hotels and B&Bs are used in the larger towns, while in the villages and countryside we use cosy, friendly ‘agriturismo’ (farmhouses) and B&B.
In all the accommodation the rooms have private bathrooms and a good Italian breakfast is included each morning.
The trip is on Bed and breakfast basis because throughout the trip there are plenty of opportunities to taste both the outstanding local cuisine and a wide array of prestigious regional wines.
The standard accommodation of the trip is listed below. If any hotels are unable to confirm due to lack of availability, we will request a similar one and inform you about the alternative booked.
You can book additional night(s) at any of the hotels.
|AVAILABILITY||You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between March 1st and July 25th, and between September 1st and November 30th.|
|DIFFICULTY / TERRAIN||On this journey you walk 122 km in 7 days, an average of 17.5 km per day. You will walk on varying terrain: secondary roads with little traffic (asphalt), paths along fields and forests and gravel roads. There are a few streams to cross, some with very little water and some others that can be more difficult in case of rain. Whenever possible, we provide an alternative route in case of heavy rain and in the case of river Platani (day 7) a transfer can be arranged if it has been raining heavily in the previous days.|
Day 1: Arrival in Palermo
After settling into your city centre hotel, find an outdoor table to sit with a cappuccino or granita and take in the sights and sounds of this cultural melting pot. The Baroque art, Byzantine architecture and medieval buildings and monuments you see around you are the result of centuries of invasions by Arabs, Greeks and Normans. Take a stroll through the markets of Capo, Vucciria and Ballarò, which are reminiscent of Arab souks. In the evening, why not visit the famous Teatro Massimo – the largest opera house in Italy and one of the biggest in Europe.
Day 2: Palermo to Corleone
Distance: 19 km | Ascent: 500 m | Descent: 690 m | 4½ hrs approx.
Your first walking day begins with a short transfer to Santa Cristina Gela, by the Lake of Piana degli Albanesi. After a stroll and a cassatella (fried cannolo – a local delicacy) you will start your walk towards Corleone.
You climb along the antica trazzera (old route) towards the Santuario Maria S.S. del Rosario di Tagliavia. According to legend, in 1800, two shepherds found a rock with the sacred image of the Holy Mary. In the same place, while digging, they later discovered a miraculous spring of water that is said to have healed King Ferdinando I of Bourbon. The Sanctuary, erected in 1841, is a must-stop along the pilgrimage route.
The path finally leads you to Corleone, a town renowned as the birthplace of several Mafia families; it was immortalized by Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather”. While here, it is a must to visit the CIDMA: Mafia and Anti-Mafia Movement Museum.
Day 3: Corleone to Prizzi
Distance: 19 km | Ascent: 860 m | Descent: 430 m | 5 hrs approx.
As you leave Corleone, don’t miss the waterfall delle due rocche, about 10 mins out of town. From there, your walking path takes you through vineyards and open fields, passing masserie (country farms) where you may be lucky enough to be offered a taste of some freshly made ricotta! Eventually, you reach the lake of Prizzi, from where a steady climb takes you into town. Treat yourself to a cannolo with pistachio and candied orange!
Day 4: Prizzi to Cammarata
Distance: 24 km | Ascent: 650 m | Descent: 960 m | 5½ hrs approx.*
A large part of today’s walk is within the tranquil woodlands of the Carcaci Natural reserve, home to numerous species of birds of prey. Leaving the forest, you will encounter the ruins of the abandoned village of Carcaci, with its cosy rural houses and small stone church. The last section takes you past some typical straw huts to the old town of Castronovo, from where a short pre-arranged transfer will take you your hotel in Cammarata (20 mins).
*You can also shorten today’s walk by 5 km with a transfer in the morning, by request.
Day 5: Cammarata to Sutera
Distance: 20 km | Ascent: 850 m | Descent: 820 m | 5 hrs approx.
Before starting out on your walk, be sure to stop for some local delicacies at the central Bar Sicilia. Fully energised, you are then ready to commence your hike; first along the railway, then gradually uphill to Acquaviva Platani. The last part of the path to Sutera – a little gem on the other side of the rock face you see in front of you – is along a stunning ridge. Get lost in the maze of alleys and chalk houses of the Arabic neighbourhood, called Rabato and visit the rich ethnographical museum.
Day 6: Sutera to Racalmuto
Distance: 22 km | Ascent: 920 m | Descent: 1080 m | 6 hrs approx.
First descending to the bed of the Platani river, you ford it and climb on the other side to Milena. Here the path climbs into the hills that surround the village and gives you a panoramic overview of the nearby valleys.
Racalmuto is the hometown of the famous Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia.
Day 7: Racalmuto to Aragona – train to Agrigento
Distance: 11.5 km | Ascent: 225 m | Descent: 332 m | 3 hrs approx.
On the last stage of your walk you pass through several nice villages such as Grotte and Comitini, where life slowly follows the rhythm of the seasons. A “must do” is to taste the local arancini (fried rice balls filled with ragù, spinach or ham). When you reach Aragona, you take the train to Agrigento where you can enjoy a free afternoon to explore the old town or the Valley of the Temples.
Day 8: Arrivederci Agrigento!
Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast, unless you have booked extra nights with us. Consult the ‘Location’ tab for info about onward travel.