Walks & Hikes
Sicily is just great for hikes and walks of any degree and style. However, if you like to walk in summer, get up early to avoid the burning midday sun. Best seasons for hiking are spring (April to mid-June) and autumn (September to mid-November).
If you don’t want to drive to the starting point — start right here in Forza. A group of dedicated Forzesi, together with people from neighbouring towns, just recently signposted some really beautiful walking tracks.
Warm up on the ascent to Monte Recavallo, some 4.5 km from Forza, where an impressive 360° view on the entire region, including prominent Rocca di Novara and Mt Etna, awaits you. From our house, turn left into the main street via SS. Annunziata to the end of the village and carry on leftwards along the paved road until you meet a wooden signpost reading „Sentiero Rocca Scala Monte Recavallo“, which marks the beginning of the walking track. More details on this walk ► here (italian). Track description ► here.
For the more energetic, there’s the 24 km walking track to Taormina, linking the villages of Forza d’Agrò, Gallodoro, Castelmola und Taormina mainly on former „trazzere“ (mule paths). This hike is considered moderately difficult and takes some 8 hours to complete. Start at Piazza Dottore Cammarieri, the main square where the cars park and the bus stops, and follow the red signposts. Unfortunately, the webpage of the local initiative which built the track is currently offline, but you can find (rough) directions ► here.
About 15 kms off Forza, the Alcantara river pushes its way through a gorge made of washed basalt rocks. At its lower end, close to Francavilla di Sicilia, it is rather the bathers and tourists pushing through the gorge (which in summer almost falls dry). However, it is here where you can book a guide and proper equipment and walk far into the gorge. Much more off the beaten track, and thus more attractive, is the upper end of the gorge near Castiglione di Sicilia, where a footpath (not signposted) leads you through fruit groves and past an impressive VII century byzantine chapel, the Cuba di Santa Domenica, to the upper end of the gorge.
Mount Etna offers plenty of excellent walks on its slopes with woods and lava fields, small side craters, and constant views on the mighty volcano and the sea. Anke and Jan Stimpel-Sörensen suggest to walk from Rifugio Citelli to the Monti Sartorius, an easy one hour walk with great views on Mt. Etna (clear weather provided), also suitable for children.
Gunther & Enrica are enthusiastic about the walk from Rifugio Ragabo to Monte Nero. Half way pine forest, half way frozen lava rivers. Definitely recommended in June or September.
Both walks require a 75 minute drive from Forza; first to Linguaglossa, then left onto the „Mareneve“ road towards Piano Provenzana. After 14kms you’ll reach Rifugio Ragabo; the Rifugio Citelli turnoff lies some 3kms behind the Piano Provenzana turnoff further up the mountain.
Get up very early to catch the impressive sunrise over the Strait of Messina and enjoy views on Tyrrhenian and Ionian Sea alike. Drive north on the highway towards Messina and beyond to the exit Villafranca Tirrena, from which SS113 will take you past Gesso and the Rizzo pass to the sanctuarium of the Madonna di Dinnamare, where the walk starts. Clear weather provided you'll see as far as the Aeolian Islands on one and Calabria on the other side.
Very worthwhile is the Pantalica gorge and plateau. Take plenty of time getting there, it is past Syracuse. Walk down the gorge and explore the Necropoli tomb caves and the beautiful natural pools of Calcinara and Anapo rivers.
Hanna and Simon from Berlin spent a night on Eolian Island Salina in order to climb volcano Monte Fossa delle Felci: „We recommend a trip to the Eolian Islands; in this case we’ve been on Salina. You have to drive 1.5 hours to Milazzo and then take the ferry to Salina. Simply park the car on one of the yellow parking bays at the harbour. There’s no need for a car on the islands since there’s good public transport. On Salina, we treated ourselves to very nice Hotel Signum in Malfa.
The hike on Monte Fossa delle Felci (962m), the higher of the two volcanoes on Salina, is highly recommended. The bus brings you to the foot of the mountain at Valdichiesa. Starting at the bus stop, head for the church where the excellently signposted footpath to the top of this natural reserve begins. You could then either return the same way or carry on to Malfa or Santa Maria Salina. We especially recommend the descent to Leni, where there are several pubs and inns to stop off. A perfect finish is the 20 minutes descent to Rinella, where a pleasant little village and delicious ice cream expect you.
The return trip is by ferry, again. Once landed in Milazzo, starving, you could head for Ristorante Ritrovo Diana, right on the waterfront, some 100m left of the ferry terminal. On our way back, we allowed ourselves a rest at Torre Faro beach for a nice swim. Also worthwhile is a stopover in Messina.“
(...to be continued...)