Nature Explorers Sicily
This is all about walking in unison with the earth’s natural rhythms to discover the local flora and fauna or even in search of the rural traditions of the area starting in spring, with nature and the flowers waking up to summer with all the signs that point to the land’s agricultural heritage rites and the harvesting of small fruits and then finally, to the autumn, a season in which to go in search of mushrooms in the woods. The naturalist association, Nature Explorers Sicily, arranges walks along the paths of the Madonie region for both young and old, for experienced hikers to beginners.
Leading the excursions, from March to June (as July and August are dedicated to the harvesting of crops such as manna) and September to November, are Mario Cicero and Laetitia Bourget, two AIGAE guides (the Italian Association of Environmental Excursion Guides). The adventure lies in travelling for hours between places where humans are an unusual sight because their presence is rare and the traces of mankind are the proof of history. You can enjoy exploring a whole grove of giant hollies at Piano Pomo, which can reach up to 20 metres in height which is unique in the world because of their size, or you can walk through dense forests of oak, maples and beech trees.
You can walk along the paths that re-join those of the charcoal burners to see how coal was made, discover wild orchids and trek in the company of a donkey. The association of Nature Explorers Sicily can offer a variety of different itineraries for your excursions in extraordinary surroundings with a stop at Piano Pomo (1400 metres) and Cozzo Luminario (1512 metres) where you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views and admire Mount Etna in the distance. Or, you may opt for walking along the paths that will enable you to see rare endemic species of flora and numerous trees that are centuries old. Amongst the most popular routes are those which lead to Pizzo Carbonara and its monuments to nature at Pomieri, Battaglietta-Piano Sempria, Macchia dell’Inferno, Torrente Vicaretto and also to the discovery of the Sicilian fir tree (Abies Nebrodensis) or along the geological pathway leading to the small cave of Battaglietta-Portella Colla. The experience of learning about the local peasant traditions such as that which focussed on the collection of manna (sometimes known as Sicilian gold), is unique. These excursions also provide the opportunity to see so many different species of wild plants, particularly flowers, that grow in Sicily in spring time whilst being enveloped in the inebriating scents and intense colours of the landscape as you search for wild orchids, medicinal herbs and wild vegetables.