The Magna Via Francigena is not a trip or a holiday, it’s a “journey” of discovery that, like a budding wild flower, slowly opens up to reveal a vibrant, colourful and scented heart. Leave behind the bustling art-filled cities and archaeological sites that line the coasts of Sicily and step by step, village by village traverse one of Italy’s last frontiers. Leave your comfort zone aside, welcome the casual, unexpected and unorthodox. Stand in awe as this little-known but beloved, controversial island shows itself to you.
The strength behind the Magna Via lies in the vast open landscapes and the people that live here. So, let me tell you about the people you will encounter: Young Totò, who will captivate you with his enthusiasm and philosophy, Giuseppe’s charisma and energy are so contagious that you won’t want to leave. Francesca will delight your senses with her famous “crostata” home-made jam tart and, of course, the “Professore”, as he lives and breathes the town’s history and will tell you all her tales and secrets.
This historical route is the connection of the two major harbours of the past: Agrigento and Palermo, a system of “Trazzere” (old gravel roads) that linked every village of the backcountry. It is a human adventure where we, the travellers, have to sneak in, knock on the door, ask, and then take time to get to know the genuine character of this land.
Once you have settled into your accommodations, step outside and breathe in the incredibly fresh, crisp air of this multicultural city. In the evening, allow yourself to feel the excitement of the adventure ahead of you.
You start the day being transported to Santa Cristina Gela, by the Lake of Piana degli Albanesi. This town is home to a historical community of Albanese people (the largest Arbereshe community in Italy) who still lives and professes its faith here. After a stroll and a local delicacy “cassatella” (fried cannolo) you will start your walk towards Corleone.
You climb along the “antica trazzera” (old route) towards the Santuario Maria S.S. del Rosario di Tagliavia. According to legend, in 1800, two shepherds found a rock with the sacred image of the Holy Mary. In the same place, while digging, they later discovered a miraculous spring of water that is said to have healed King Ferdinando I of Bourbon. The Sanctuary, erected in 1841, constitutes a must-stop along the pilgrimage route.
The path takes you to Corleone, a town renowned as the birthplace of several Mafia families; it was immortalized by Mario Puzo's "The Godfather". While here, it is a must to visit the CIDMA: Mafia and Anti-Mafia Movement Museum.
Distance: 4,5/6 hours, 19/25km, 500/900m total ascent, 690/770m total descent
While exiting Corleone, take your time to admire the waterfall “delle due rocche”, 10 mins out of town. Then the path takes you through vineyards and open fields, passing by dry-stone masserie (country farm) where you may encounter farmers who want you to try their freshly made ricotta!
From Lake Prizzi a steady climb takes you into town, the perfect opportunity to grab a cannolo with pistachio and candied orange! Yummy!!
Distance: 5 hours, 19 km, 860m total ascent, 430m total descent
The majority of today’s walk is within the peaceful Carcaci Natural Reserve, home to numerous species of birds of prey. Between the trees, you can see what remains of the abandoned village of Riena, with its old-world charm and the unaltered symmetry of its cross design.
Explore the rural houses, barns, the cozy manor homes and the small stone churchs. In the last part inside the Bosco Comuni (Comuni forest) you encounter the typical “pagliai” (hay)farmers.
When you arrive in Castronovo, you get transferred to the hotel in Cammarata (20min). You can shorten today’s walk of 4.5 km with a transfer on request.
Distance: 4,5/5,5 hours, 19.5/24 km, 620/650m ascent, 660/960m descent
Before starting your walk energize yourself with some local delicacy in Bar Sicilia. You then begin your walk through a path that lines the old railway line, climbing gradually uphill to Acquaviva Platani. The last part of the path to Sutera, a little gem on the other side of the rock face you see in front of you, is along a stunning ridge. Get lost in the maze of alleys and chalk houses of the Arabic neighbourhood, called Rabato and visit the rich ethnographical museum.
Distance: 4,5 hours, 15 km, 850m total ascent, 820m total descent
You descend to the bed of the Platani River, ford it and then climb up the other side to Milena; here the path goes up into the hills that surround the village and gives you a panoramic view of all the valleys nearby.
Racalmuto, the destination of the day, is the hometown of the famous writer Leonardo Sciascia.
Distance: 6 hours, 23 km, 920m total ascent, 1080 total descent
Today, the last day of the walk, you will pass through through the village of Grotte, where life slowly follows the rhythm of the seasons.
A "must do" is to taste the local arancini (fried rice balls filled with ragù, spinach or ham). When you reach Aragona you take the train to Agrigento where you enjoy a free afternoon to explore the old town or the Valley of the Temples.
Distance: 3 hours, 11,5 km, 225m total ascent, 332m total descent
Our services end after breakfast (unless you have booked extra nights)
Arrivederci! We wish you a safe trip home
Throughout the trips you stay in 3* (4* hotels in Agrigento), B&B and Agriturismi. All hotels have en suite services, heating and air conditioning.
A *** star hotel located within walking distance from the main sights and attractions of the city, that will allow you to make the most of your time in Palermo.
The hotel has a pleasant vintage feel, a very welcoming staff and very clean rooms. A rich breakfast will make you start your adventure in a good mood.
A recently renovated hotel, with finely decorated interiors and wide common spaces. In the middle of the structure lies a big courtyard lined by palm trees.
The swimming pool will offer some relax during the warmest days. All rooms have a balcony and have been decorated by a local artist.
This "Ospitalità Diffusa" accommodation allows you to sleep in apartments located right in the ancient Norman town centre.
The owner, our dear friend Totò, will be happy to welcome you and introduce you to his hometown.
A very quiet rural residence, nestled between the Sicani mountains.
You will enjoy the extremely relaxed atmosphere, the slow pace of country life, the spacious swimming pool. An ideal rest on your away to Agrigento!
Just outside the town centre of Sutera, this is a small B&B (five simple, bright rooms).
Some rooms might have their private bathroom just outside the room. Different kinds of breakfast available according to traveller's preferences. Do not miss the view on the surrounding peaks.
Right in Racalmuto's centre: the owners have renovated an ancient noble building reconverting it into a hotel dedicated to the town's most famous person: Leonardo Sciascia (writer).
The staff is used to hosting walkers and pilgrims, and will welcome you in the friendly, familiar atmosphere of this place, relaxing before resuming your walk.
A 4-star hotel that will reward you after your long walk. You will be able to rest in an oasis of tranquillity with ample green spaces, with a view on the Valley of The Temples (some rooms have a view on the archeological site). Enjoy their local food, you have deserved it!
The nearest airport to Palermo is Palermo Falcone Borsellino airport. You can then reach the center with bus or train. More information on the airport website.
The nearest airport to Agrigento is Palermo Falcone Borsellino airport. You can reach Palermo Centro train station with a 2h direct train from Agrigento, and then take a bus or train to the airport. More information on www.trenitalia.it and the airport website.
The train station nearet to Palermo is Palermo Centrale.
The train station nearest to Agrigento is Agrigento Centrale - connected to Palermo with direct trains, 2h ride
For further information visit www.trenitalia.it