Palermo and its surroundings are full of surprises for curious visitors. Within less than an hour drive outside the city you can find amazing landscapes, rural areas with excellent organic cheese farms and wineries, villages that keep the 16th century Albanian traditions and are known for delicious breads and cannoli, hidden archaeological areas and beautiful natural reserves. The city itself is full of curiosities for those visitors who want to discover Palermo outside the tourist areas. An excursion away from the city crowd is an opportunity to experience a different Sicily that is really “off the beaten path”.
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The natural reserve of Ficuzza, with its 7,400 hectares of cork and holly oaks and the mighty peak of Rocca Busambra, is the most beautiful forest of the outskirts of Palermo. It became a private hunting reserve of the king Ferdinand, of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, who built in 1799 a lavish hunting lodge.
With a short walk through woods and beautiful landscapes we get to the impressive stones called “pulpito del re”, a likely prehistorical altar surrounded by local legends. In the little charming village, we will visit the royal lodge and the Sicilian Wildlife Recovery Centre where a bunch of heroes, with little means, rescue and bring back to the wild life birds of prey, tortoises etc.
Later, driving through spectacular hills and vineyards, we reach the core of the Albanian speaking enclave. At the end of the 15th century Albanians and Greeks settled here after the Ottoman invasion of the Balkans. In an historical organic farm, set of several films, two cousins bring on the tradition of stretched curd cheeses made from cinisara’s milk and grow forgotten varieties of Sicilian wheats and vegetables. In company of the owners, we will taste ricotta and caciocavallo cheese, organic vegetables of season and the traditional furr me dru bread baked with their own flours, while learning some words of arbëreshë.
In the area a stop is due at the memorial of Portella della Ginestra massacre: for Sicilians this is the symbol of fight for social and civil rights against the arrogance of mafiosi and land owners in the years after WW2.
Piana degli Albanesi is known for Byzantine icons and Albanian traditions but also for gigantic and excellent cannoli so we will conclude our excursion with a cannolo tasting and coffee in town.
Walk duration and difficulty: this trail is very accessible. Comfortable clothes and good walking shoes are required. In case of bad weather, we will offer other options of walks or interesting visits. In Ficuzza we also offer half day hiking trails. Just contact us to customise your excursion.
Duration: full day
Group size: min 2 – max 22
Suitable for families: yes. Children will enjoy seeing a farm with cows and cute rabbits and wild birds and turtles at the rescue centre.
Days: this tour can be booked every day except for Sundays and special holidays. We need anyway to confirm the availability with the local providers.
Suggested season: from October to late May
The Natural Park of Monti Sicani, south of the Palermo province, hosts some hidden treasures that are very seldom included in the tourist itineraries of Sicily. The reserve of Rocca di Entella, surrounded by vineyards, pastures and wheat fields is one of those places. Here geology and archaeology meet because the Rocca, a mighty rock of translucent gypsum crystals, located 570 m above sea level, offered during several centuries a natural stronghold to local populations.
With a pleasant hiking we will see the ruins of an Elymian town next to those of one of the last Sicilian Muslim fortresses of the Middle Age, observe some endemic flora and enjoy the amazing landscapes all around.
Viticulture in this area exists since the ancient times and here wines have the authentic taste of rural Sicily. After our walk we will visit the small winery of a very hospitable family of winemakers. Here, in a very informal atmosphere, you will be able to appreciate the quality of these generous wines together with the family olive oil and eggs, homemade bread and some other local specialities such as the Vastedda del Belice cheese P.D.O.
This excursion through hidden Sicily will continue with a visit to a “devil’s bridge”. A beautiful medieval bridge from the 12th century that only devils and night spirits were able to build…
During the excursion we will probably see a lot of sheep flocks…if this vision makes your mouth water with the idea of fresh ricotta we will be more than happy to suggest a stop along the road for a cannolo and a final coffee!
Hiking difficulty: easy. Elevation gain 250 metres. Walking about 500 metres on steep unpaved road to access the top of the rock. Total hiking time approx. 3 ½ hours but the duration can be shortened on request. Comfortable clothes and good walking shoes are required. In case of bad weather, we will offer other options of walks or interesting visits.
Duration: full day
Group size: min 2 – max 16
Suitable for families: yes. A very enjoyable excursion for children who love spending a day outdoor.
Days: this tour can be booked every day except for Sundays and special holidays.
Suggested season: from October to late May
Listed in 2001 by the UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Sicilian puppet theatre known as the Opera dei Pupi emerged in Sicily at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In Palermo and Catania you still find a handful of family run theatres that are a real example of resilience and courage and that make this beautiful tradition survive.
In a very traditional puppet theatre of Palermo, we have organised with the master puppeteers a private workshop to let you discover the history and techniques of the Sicilian puppets and give you the possibility to follow a full show even without speaking Italian.
With a twenty-minute walk through the animated Borgo Vecchio market, where we can stop to taste some local street food, we will then reach the oldest enoteca of Palermo, listed among the ten best wine shops in Italy by the Gambero Rosso guide. Here you will discover, through an informal wine tasting with the sommelier, the different Sicilian DOC wines paired to a light dinner.
Parents with children can perfectly take this tour because well behaved children are very welcomed at the wine shop and will find there a selection of quality soft drinks.
Day: this tour can be booked every day in the afternoon except for Sundays and special holidays. We need anyway to confirm the availability with the puppeteers therefore this activity must be booked well in advance.
Duration: approx. 4 hours
Group size: min 6 – max 25 pax
If you are a small group or a family, please contact us and we can organise for you another nice experience at the puppet theatre.
All our suggestions can be adapted and customised according to your wishes and expectations. To book this excursion or receive more info please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The puppet theatre does not work primarily with tourists so every show has to be confirmed with the puppeteers and needs to fit in their daily work schedules.
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