Stretching over 20 hectares, at an altitude of 300 metres above sea level, the Guarneri forest emerges above Sant’Ambrogio, a hamlet of the Municipality of Cefalù.
Guarneri, a forest of evergreen holm oaks and cork trees, is a natural reserve and an integrating part of the Madonie Park; it is all that is left of a vast area of Mediterranean scrub which once covered the entire coast. Nowadays, the bushes and trees that make up the Guarneri forest are mainly tree heaths, cork oaks, strawberry trees (arbutus unedo), European wild peartrees, lentisk, and manna ashes.
The natural reserve perimeter is protected by fences and, in its highest part, it is dominated by a picturesque quartzarenite range, which offers to the visitors an extraordinary show of light and colours resulting from the iridescent lichens that grow on the rocks.
Easily accessible from the forest, the Guarneri range allows the visitors to admire from one side the entire wooded area stretching to the coast, the famous Rock – that is the cliff overlooking Cefalù, creating its well-known landscape –, as well as a view of the contours of the islands of Alicudi and Filicudi – the closest Aeolian islands – and, on a clear day, even that of Salina; on the other side of the range, instead, you can contemplate the view of Pizzo Carbonara – with its 1979 metres above sea level it is the highest of the Madonie mountains and the second highest in Sicily after Mount Etna – and Pollina, a small village on the mountain famous for its open-air theatre.
At the beginning of the 90s, three different trails where conceived within the wooded area of Guarnieri, each of them offering the visitor a different approach to the woods. All of the trails crossing the woods are lof medium-low difficulty, therefore they are suitable for any kind of visitor, from the occasional stroller to the most expert and trained hikers.
The high level of biodiversity within the natural park gives visitors the possibility of choosing among a variety of activities focusing on environmental education, like the ones organised by the CEA (Centro di Educazione Ambientale – Centre of Environmental Education) Serra Guarneri.
CEA Serra Guarneri offers travellers the chance of spending a short relaxing holiday completely surrounded by nature, and to discover the forest through regenerating guided hikes, far from the city chaos. Visitors can choose to take part in the Sunday trips, which are planned by the Centre to suit all tastes and all ages.
Children, naturally, are welcome and they will be happy to be surrounded by the rabbits, hens and kittens that live at the range. If you have a dog, feel free to bring it with you. If you wish, you can stay at a fully-equipped b&b with heated rooms, where you can savour the silence and the calm of the forest. The adventurous ones who want to experience a night under the stars or on a tree-house will just have to bring their sleeping bag! Bear in mind that the weather is cooler here than on the coast.
Not being an agritourism nor a farm, Serra Guarneri doesn’t make lunch; if you decide to participare in the events, though, you will then have the chance to taste Sicilian typical products.