A stage of medium length and good elevation gain, but easy and flowing, with a very pleasant second part, along the Alcantara stream.
We arrive in the town of Floresta, the highest municipality in Sicily.
Signposting is not always present, it is good to monitor the GPS route.
We leave Randazzo at the eastern end of the village on the provincial road, then take the state road north and start the long, slow climb (about 500 m height difference) to Floresta. At the second bend, take the small road to the left and begin the climb up the east side of the Alcantara valley. Shortly after, the road becomes unpaved, wide and smooth; the climb is very gentle.
We head north for a long time and pass a rest area shaded by cypress trees. After a few kilometres we reach the Rifugio Santa Maria del Bosco, owned by the Forestry Commission, with an adjacent winter hut that is always open (with a fireplace and six tables); the place is lovely. We then begin the descent towards the bottom of the valley; we walk along a wide path, but not very clear in places, until we cross the river Alcantara and then walk past it for a very pleasant stretch - the valley is very green.
After passing a stable (which offers shelter in bad weather), we tackle the last part of the climb until we meet a tarmac road and reach the village of Floresta.
Il Parco dei Nebrodi è l'area naturale più grande della Sicilia.
Istituito nel 1993, copre gli 86.000 ettari dei Monti Nebrodi, che insieme ai Peloritani e alle Madonie costituiscono l'Appennino Siculo. A marcare nettamente i Monti Nebrodi sono a est il fiume Alcantara e a ovest l'alto corso del Simeto. Lungo la catena si susseguono rocce argillose e arenarie; la montagna più alta è il Monte Soro (1.847 m).
Il parco è suddiviso in varie zone, tra cui un'estesa area di riserva integrale costituita da boschi di tasso, faggete e cerrete.
The Parco dei Nebrodi (Nebrodi Park) is the largest natural area in Sicily.
It was established in 1993 and covers the 86,000 hectares of the Nebrodi Mountains, which together with the Peloritani and Madonie form the Sicilian Apennines. The Nebrodi Mountains are clearly marked by the Alcantara River to the east and the upper reaches of the Simeto River to the west. Clay and sandstone cliffs line the chain; the highest mountain is Monte Soro (1,847 m).
The park is divided into different zones, including an extensive reserve consisting of yew, beech and turkey oak forests.
Floresta has been inhabited since ancient times and owes its name to the tall trees in the area. The first inhabitants of the Roman settlement were slaves who worked in the production of wood for shipbuilding.
The area, which was abandoned in the early Middle Ages, experienced a resurgence as a place for grain production in the 17th century thanks to the abundant waterways. In the following centuries, the area established itself as a place for sheep and cattle breeding.
Not far from Floresta is the altopiano dell'Argimusco, one of the most impressive places on the whole island.
It is a rocky complex characterised by anthropomorphic and zoomorphic stones and has been inhabited by people since prehistoric times - there are numerous traces of obsidian all over the plateau. Until a few decades ago, it was thought that the rocks were man-made, but recent studies have confirmed the natural origin of the rocks, which were carved into the distinctive shapes by water and wind.
The plateau also offers a magnificent view that stretches from Mount Etna to the summit of Rocca Novara and the Aeolian Islands.
The Rocca di San Marco in Ucria is a rocky sandstone shelter with a very special texture.
Nestled in an oak forest, it has taken on a particular shape thanks to erosion by rainwater. There are numerous traces of human presence in prehistoric times and folklore has it that this place was the refuge of a gigantic creature known as u 'zzu Dragu - because of certain imprints on the rock that resemble the legs of a dragon.
A typical dairy product of Floresta is provola florestana, also known as provola dei Nebrodi.
It is made from cow's milk and is a pasta filata cheese with a classic pear shape, protected by the Slow Food Praesidium. Floresta also produces a variety with a greenish lemon in the centre, which gives the provola a citrus note. As in other areas of the south, pasta filata was used to preserve butternuts, which, because they were not in contact with the air, kept for a long time.
Provola dei Nebrodi is not only eaten plain, but is also used in the kitchen in many ways: as an aged table cheese, as an element to enrich dishes or cooked “all'argentiera”, i.e. in a pan with garlic, anchovies and vinegar.
Hotel Sant'Anna, in Floresta. Tel. +390941 662067
The starting point is accessible by car.
The starting point can be reached by bus, starting from the city of Catania.
Here is the LINK to check the timetable.
The starting point is NOT accessible by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.