A very long stage with many ups and downs and a demanding but technically easy climb.
The landscape is magnificent, with very nice panoramic views of the Tyrrhenian coast and the Madonie mountains. The highlights of the day are the villages of Caltavuturo and Sclafani Bagni (with the thermal baths!).
The stage is largely a variation of Sentiero Italia (which stays in the valley floor and avoids the villages), preferred here to admire the fantastic villages of Caltavuturo and Sclafani Bagni - not to be missed!
Some sections of the route are overgrown with tall grass, which sometimes makes them unrecognisable; nevertheless, the route remains quite intuitive to ride.
After Sclafani Bagni there is a good stretch along the main road: be careful.
Along the way there are several barbed wire gates that you must open (and close, always!), especially from Bosco del Cardellino.
Risk of ticks.
From Sclafani Bagni to the end of the stage there are no water points.
Much of the stage is shadeless.
We leave Scillato and cross the motorway via a subway; then we begin the climb (about 400 m height difference) to Caltavuturo on a dirt road. The gradient is steep at times, but fairly steady, and sometimes we have to contend with the tall grass that obscures the path. When we come across an asphalt road, we cross it and continue uphill, reaching a quarry and shortly afterwards the old fortress of Caltavuturo; soon we are in the village, overlooked by the cyclopean mass of the Rocca di Sciara (1,050 m), a dolomite rock formation.
We leave (reluctantly!) Caltavuturo and descend slightly (about 100 m drop) until we reach the main road near a hairpin bend; immediately afterwards we leave the road, take the path to the left and start the climb (about 250 m height difference) to Sclafani Bagni. After a fairly steep first part, the climb becomes gentler and we come out on the provincial road, which we take to the left to reach the beautiful village of Sclafani Bagni, another jewel of the Sicilian hinterland.
After visiting the village, we start the long descent (about 550 m drop) towards the bottom of the valley. First we take a steep cobbled road overgrown with tall grass, then we turn right onto a dirt road on the slope and come to a small thermal pool, perfect for a purifying bath. Immediately afterwards, we change to an asphalt road that takes us back to the main road, where we stay for a long time, cross the Salito stream and start the long climb (about 700 m height difference) to the northern slope of Monte Roccello. After about 1 km, we turn left onto a small asphalt road (private) surrounded by olive groves, which then turns into a dirt road and leads us to a large farm. Immediately afterwards, we cross the beautiful Bosco del Cardellino (Cardellino forest), characterised by cork oaks, and reach the end of the climb, where we pass a barbed wire gate that is not easy to open.
So we descend slowly (about 400 m drop), passing through several barbed wire gates, until we meet the asphalt road again and reach the centre of Montemaggiore Belsito.
In the municipality of Montemaggiore Belsito lies the Riserva naturale orientata Bosco di Favara e Bosco Granza (Bosco di Favara and Bosco Granza nature reserve), which covers almost 3,000 hectares in the municipalities of Aliminusa, Cerda and Sclafani Bagni.
The area, overlooked by Monte Soprana (1,127 m), is home to numerous forests of cork, manna ash, downy and holm oak, as well as artificial lakes that are home to numerous species of aquatic life.
In the hinterland of the Himera valley, at the foot of the Rocca di Sciara (1,050 m), lies the village of Caltavuturo, an ancient fortress dating back to Byzantine times - others claim that the first settlement was of Arab origin. The huge rock above the village with its reddish colours makes the landscape absolutely fascinating.
Characteristic of the village is, among other things, the Madonite door: a normal door to which a smaller door is attached, into which you could put your hand and open the door by pulling the latch.
The village was the site of the Sicilian fasci uprising at the end of the 19th century, when demonstrating peasants were slaughtered by the forces of law and order.
Between Montemaggiore Belsito and Caltavuturo, in the municipality of terme di Sclafani, are the thermal springs of Sclafani, a hot spring bubbling at a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, where a thermal clinic was built in 1748 by the ducal house of Fernandina. In the mid-19th century, the facility was renovated, but was soon destroyed by a landslide. It was rebuilt in the 1940s and finally abandoned in the 1990s. The abandoned facility still retains its old charm and there are several natural pools nearby where you can enjoy the warm thermal waters.
The famous Dutch engraver Escher was impressed by the beauty of the place during his trip to Sclafani Bagni and made an engraving.
A typical sweet of the Feast of the Dead is tetù e teio (or Catalani), black and white pastries with icing. The name means “one for you and one for me”.
They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and are filled in various ways, the most popular being with almonds and chocolate.
Affittacamere Stone House, in Montemaggiore Belsito. Tel. +39338 899 2438
The starting point is accessible by car.
The starting point can be reached by bus, starting from the city of Palermo.
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.