Visiting Sicily at donkey pace (Donkey Trekking)


One of the most fun and exciting ways to venture along Etna‘s paths with your family, is to do it at a
donkey pace.

As well as being great fun, donkey trekking is the most sustainable and eco-friendly way to visit fascinating and unspoilt places. This way will also give the opportunity to slowly enjoy the rediscovery of the rural culture and tradition that characterise the most arcane side of Sicily. If you find this idea appealing, you could plan your own slow holidays to discover Sicilian villages.

If you are on holiday in Sicily with children and young people, visiting Sicily ‘ngroppa du sceccu, is one of the most popular activities. In the past, donkeys were the farmers’ means of transport. They are also the animals that can most easily travel along nature trails, such as the one of Mount Etna.

At the top of Mount Etna, it is possible to follow routes (from one hour to 2-3 days) on the back of donkeys. Riding these cute quadrupeds in ropes, equipped with protective helmets and together with a guide.

During the day and at sunset, both in summer and winter, walking amidst evocative landscapes, you have the sensation of entering a fairytale place.

The climb begins in the Linguaglossa area. The route winds through larch pines, beautiful butterflies and millions of ladybirds. These insects hibernate every winter among the rocks of the volcano. It is a phenomenon widely studied by entomologists and biologists.

Continuing along the path, we come across the typical pulvinus vegetation. Here we find soapwort, Etna violets and low shrubs. These plants are true “pioneers” of the volcano and represent one of the Sicilian botanical varieties that can enchant adults and children alike.

Ski mountaineering competitions have been organised for many years in the lunar landscape next to the Valle del Bove. This area is eight kilometres long and five kilometres wide. It is a kind of embankment to the volcano eruptions, allowing the lava to flow without threatening the villages.

The Valley represents a sort of open-air scientific museum of Etna: it is very interesting for volcanologists from all over the world.

Other tender and tireless donkeys can be met along the Ippovia on the Sicani Mountains, crossing the old mule tracks and enjoying a marvellous panorama of woods full of ilexes and downy oaks.

Excursions at “donkey pace” also lead to discovering the huge Hyblean plateau, in the countryside around Ragusa.

Among the trekking itineraries in the Aeolian Islands, a truly exciting experience is to ride a friendly donkey and discover Lipari, surrounded by the colours of the Mediterranean nature and by the turquoise sea.

But the island that most invites us to a romantic return to the past is Alicudi. Here we won’t hear any traffic noise, we will be perfectly connected to nature and relieved from everyday stress. Alicudi is a place with a magical, timeless atmosphere. We can walk along ancient mule tracks that lead to the top of the volcano, enjoying unforgettable sunsets. The faithful donkeys are the only means of transport on the island.

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