Guided Walking on Sicily
JOURNEY TO EASTERN SICILY AND DISCOVER SUPERB WALKS IN THE FOOTHILLS OF MIGHTY MOUNT ETNA
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Hills & moorland
Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.
Journey with us to eastern Sicily and enjoy wonderful walks in the foothills of mighty Mount Etna, combined with warm Sicilian hospitality and great Italian food. Our family-run partner hotel in the pretty town of Zafferana Etnea, known as ‘Honey City’, enjoys delightful sea and mountain views.
- Stay at the family-run Esperia Palace and enjoy Sicilian cuisine in their atmospheric restaurant
- Walk on the slopes of mighty Mount Etna and over the lava flows from past eruptions
- Relax in the hotel’s grounds and stroll into the traditional town of Zafferana Etnea, with its far-reaching views
- Uncover Sicily’s picture-postcard medieval villages on walks in green landscapes
- A full programme of guided walks with 2 options every walking day
- All transport to and from walks
- The services of experienced HF Holidays’ leaders
- Return flights from the UK and hotel transfers on ‘with flight’ holidays
- 7 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms
- Half Board – continental buffet breakfast and 3-course evening meal
The 4-star Esperia Palace Hotel nestles in the foothills between Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea on the edge of the resort town of Zafferana Etnea, also known as the honey city.
This modern family-run hotel has a great location that offers spectacular views and has lush gardens that you walk through every evening to the hotel's restaurant.
|In this hotel there are 42 well-appointed, comfortable en-suite bedrooms with:
|The Hotel has a heated indoor pool with whirlpool, a gym, a spa/wellness centre that offers treatments at an extra cost with Turkish bath and sauna.
Outside there is another swimming pool set on a panoramic terrace with far-reaching views.
There are extensive gardens in which to relax.
Esperia Palace Hotel also offers a small bar.
Holidays on Sicily are Half Board with continental breakfast and 3-course evening meal.
This is a self-service buffet taken in the breakfast room next to the hotel bar.
Lunch (payable locally)
Ingredients for a packed lunch can be bought from local shops or it may be possible to eat in a local café. Your leader will advise you of these options.
The hotel has a bar serving beer, wine and spirits.
All the evening meals are served in the Parco dei Principi Restaurant, which is in a splendid 19th-century villa located in the hotel gardens.
The restaurant serves an array of wonderful Sicilian cuisine. Vegetarian and special diets are catered for; we ask you to take a few moments to talk with the management on arrival.
The friendly atmosphere of our Guided Walking holidays continues into the evening.
Enjoy a glass of wine and listen to your leaders explaining the next day's walks. After dinner, relax in the bar and chat with your fellow guests or take a walk through the hotel gardens.
The leaders will be checking for any local events going on nearby.
Our experienced leaders offer the choice of two different walks each day. Choose the option which best suits your interests and fitness.
We provide flexible holidays. Choose easier walking one day and harder the next or just explore independently or relax around the resort.
Our leaders are friendly and welcoming making your holiday fun and sociable.
Our walking programme from Zafferana Etnea allows us to take in the wonderfully varied landscapes of eastern Sicily, from traversing the volcanic landscapes on the slopes of Etna to walking between medieval hilltop villages, such as Francavilla and Castiglioni, and exploring rich green agricultural landscapes.
Easier walks: 5 to 8 miles (8-13km) on good, but occasionally rough paths, with some rocky sections. Up to 1,500ft (450m) of ascent in a day.
Harder walks: 6 to 11 miles (9.5-17.5km) on rougher volcanic terrain, with some rocky sections. Up to 2,300ft (690m) of ascent in a day.
Please Note: Walking boots are essential for this holiday for walking on volcanic terrain.
Day 1: Arrival day
On arrival at Zafferana Etnea, you will have time to meet your fellow guests over the first evening meal.
Day 2: Around Zafferane Etnea
Both walks will introduce you to the area around Zafferana, this volcanic area and the importance of small scale agriculture.
Easier Walk: Our walk starts at a shrine to the west of Fornazzo. We will head south on a gently descending track over ancient lava flows. Plants have colonised these flows, giving a delightful walk through an area of abundant wild flowers. There are spectacular views down to the sea from Taormina in the north down to Catania in the south. We descend through small agricultural villages and hamlets to the edge of Zafferana where we will stop to visit a honey production centre and get a first taste of some of the rich diversity of agricultural products that come from this area. We continue onto Zafferana for a well-earned refreshment. 6 miles (9.5km) with 600ft (180m) of ascent.
Harder Walk: Also starting from the shrine, we follow a good ascending path through typical Sicilian mixed woods of beech, holm oak, chestnut and pines. Much of the land has been farmed intensively in the past and you pass ruined farmsteads, field systems and the reconstruction of a charcoal burner’s hut. The walk continues with fantastic views onto more recent lava flows dating back only as far as 1951 before dropping down into an area of small hamlets, smallholdings and vineyards. We too will visit the honey centre before joining the easier group for a drink in Zafferana. 8 miles (13km) with 1,500ft (450m) of ascent.
Day 3: Castelmola and Taormina
Today both groups travel towards the Etnea coast to Castelmola, a hilltop village with glorious views to Taormina and the sea.
Easier Walk: We will start with a town trail of Castelmola, a myriad of little alleys and streets, crowned with a castle which is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Sicily. We then descend steeply on a good path to the viewpoint of the Madonna of the Rock and then onto the bustling tourist town of Taormina. There is opportunity to explore this ancient town with its stunning Greek theatre and public gardens. 5 miles (8km) with 600ft (180m) of ascent and 1,600ft (480m) of descent.
Harder Walk: From Castelmola, we head up to Monte Venere, with outstanding views along the east coast of Sicily and to mainland Italy. From the top, we descend quite steeply on rough paths before joining quieter tracks through farming hamlets back to Castelmola. Here we will also follow the town trail before descending to Taormina, where there should be time to explore. 7 miles (11km) with 1,500ft (450m) of ascent and 2,800ft (840m) of descent.
Day 4: Monte Nero and the 2002 Destructive Eruptions
Today we will be accompanied by a local guide who will give us an insight into this area rich in both volcanoes and agriculture. Our coach journey will gradually ascend criss-crossing old and new lava flows to our starting point at the small ski area of Piano Provenzana nearly 5,900 ft (1,800m) above sea level.
Easier Walk: Our walk begins uphill onto a lava sand track. Here we see the devastation caused by the 2002 earthquake and lava flows. Walking gradually uphill, we will see how vegetation is gradually starting to come back. We will meet our guide at the line of volcanic vents and start to explore in detail this fascinating area of volcanic activity. Our walk then takes us on more gently, sometimes on rough ground back to Monte Nero before returning to the ski area. 4 miles (6.5km) with 1,00ft (300m) of ascent.
Harder Walk: On arriving at Piano Provenzana we will walk gently uphill at first on lava sand tracks and see the devastation caused by the 2002 earthquake and lava flows. We will learn about the volcanic activity in this area and the significance of rows of lava vents before continuing round the back of Monte Nero. We then ascend more steeply to expolore some of the old crater rims and enjoy the fun of descending on lava sand as we make our way to the ski area with time for a drink and a look around the souvenir shops before meeting our coach. 5 miles (8km) with 2,100ft (630m) of ascent and descent.
Day 5: Free day
Each week there is a free day when no guided walks are offered. This is an ideal opportunity to relax around the hotel, walk independently or visit local places of interest. On your free day you may wish to relax at the hotel and its surroundings, join a cable car excursion to the top of Mount Etna or journey to Taormina with its famous Roman amphitheatre. A day sightseeing in the ancient city of Syracuse may also be possible.
Day 6: Upwards to Etna
Today our coach will take us on a short scenic journey to the south side of Mount Etna, with time for a photo stop en route.
Easier Walk: Today’s walk lies around the 6,500ft (2,000m) contour on the southern side of Mount Etna. We then have a short, gentle ascent onto a wooded volcano rim, with views down into its flat bottom and far ranging views to the coast and Catania before picking up a nature trail, with views opening up to Mt Etna, old ice storage grottos and different types of lava and regrowth vegetation. We then start to ascend up by the 1983 lava flow and up to the cafes and souvenir shops along the way to Etna Sud. The walk finishes with a short easy ascent of Monte Silvestre interior. 6 miles (9.5km) with 1,200ft (360m) of ascent.
Harder walk: Starting from the bustling tourist hub of Etna Sud at 6,500ft (2,000m), we soon take a quieter track that gently ascends to the spectacular rim of the Valle de Bove. All around there are fantastic vistas, especially into the huge open gorge of the Valle de Bove with its 100m high volcanic walls. We then ascend more steeply on rougher terrain along a broad ridge leading towards Monte la Monagnola, reaching a high point of 7,550ft (2,300m) before a long descent traversing on lava sand to view both Mt Calcarazi and Monte Silvestri before a well-earned drink at one of the many cafes at Etna Sud. 7 miles (11km) with 1,800ft (540m) of ascent and descent.
Day 7: Castiglione and the Alcantara Valley
Our coach will take us round to the north side of Etna, firstly to Linguaglossa for the harder group and then on via a photo stop to Castiglione for the easier group.
Easier Walk: We will have an opportunity to explore Castiglione, which dates from the 5th Century BC, and has a wealth of medieval buildings in its hilltop location before gently descending to the Alcantara River, and the diverse small scale agriculture irrigated by ancient water channels built by the Arabs. We will then explore this area before a gentle ascent into the small medieval town of Francavilla where we can drink to toast the end of a great holiday. 5 miles (8km) with 600ft (180m) of ascent.
Harder Walk: Our walk starts on the outskirts of Linguaglossa and follows a newly renovated cycle track through a small agricultural holding and up towards Mt Pizzo, with Mt Etna as our continuing backdrop. We then descend to Castiglione, its hilltop location gives us opportunities for fantastic photos. There will be time to explore before descending to the rich agricultural area of the Alcantara River and on via Francavillas Castel taking us into this medieval town with time for a celebratory drink. 9 miles (14.5km) with 1,400ft (420m) of ascent and 2,200ft (660m) of descent.
Day 8: Departure Day
Please note that the itinerary outlined is provisional and could be subject to change. A finalised itinerary will be available at the resort and every evening your leaders will talk to you about the next day’s walks.
There are a number of local shops within a short walking distance of the hotel where you can obtain the basic necessities, ingredients for a packed lunch and plenty of gift shopping.
We recognise that everyone’s travel arrangements are unique, so all our holidays to Europe can be booked ‘with flight’ or ‘without flight’, giving you more flexibility and choice.
‘With flight’ holidays – the hassle-free option
Book your holiday ‘with flight’ and choose between Gatwick and Manchester flights to Catania airport. For flight times and prices please see the Dates & Prices tab.
If you choose this option we automatically include return transfers between the airport and the hotel. The coach transfer takes approx 50 minutes to the Esperia Palace Hotel.
‘Without flight’ holidays – the flexible travel option
Alternatively, tailor your journey to suit you by booking your holiday ‘without flight’ allowing you the freedom to book your own flights from your local airport.
If you choose this option, transfers are not included in the price. However, below are some suggestions to help you reach your destination:
Transfers must be pre-booked. Please call 020 8732 1220 for more details
* Please note that HF Holidays is not responsible for your onward travel if you fail to meet the transfer coach
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Dates & Prices
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
Prices are per person
- Double room for sole occupancy: £32 per night
- All transport to walks is included in the price of the holiday
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person