Sicily apart from beautiful beaches and beautiful hilltop villages offers infinite opportunities for nature lovers. In fact it boasts 5 regional parks and 77 nature reserves! Sicily is in fact a huge region and d.istances from one place to another are remarkable. Although I visited the island over 10 times I can never say that I have explored well.  I would like to return to each of the natural parks and spend at least 3/4 days to be able to do more trekking and visit them well.

Below is some information on the natural parks I have visited. Of course this list is far from being exhaustive. Clicking on each image will enable you to see the camera settings as well as the location of each shot.

Parco dell’Etna

View over Valle del Bove from Schiena dell’asino trekking trail on Etna in Sicily, Italy | Nikon D5100 Sigma 17-70 f2.8, 1/400, f6.3, ISO 100

Etna is maybe the most popular destination visited in Sicily. The volcano is one of the most active in the world yet one of the most accessible. It is is the second largest park in Sicily with an area covering over 58 hectares; that is already 1,800 times the size of my tiny island of Malta. The activities possible here are endless and include trekking, skiing, donkey rides, adventure parks, exploring lava tubes and craters and most of all the volcano itself! The park is a place that offers different activities to its visitors during the four seasons and unlike the other parks you can enjoy the cool air even during the hottest of summer days. It is the highest peak in Sicily reaching a maximum altitude of 3,50m.

The main touristic areas are two. On the southern side there is Rifugio Sapienza which lies between Nicolosi and Zafferana Etnea. This area is more popular as there are several souvenir shops, restaurants and you can easily visit Cratere Silvestri. From here you can also catch a cable car to reach the higher peaks of the mountain. To the north from Linguaglossa you can reach Piano Provenzana which is the main area for skiing. Here you find less shops however you can get skiing lessons as well go for donkey rides. Some of the activities mentioned above can be done on your own, however others require a guide like trekking closer to the craters and visiting lava tubes. For more information like trekking trails you can visit the official website from the link below.

Practical Infornation:

  • Area: 58 095 km2
  • Province: Catania
  • Activities: Trekking, Skiing, Lava tubes,
  • Best time to visit: All year
  • Website: http://www.parcoetna.it/

Places to photograph:

  • Valle del Bove
  • Cratere Silvestri
  • Volcanic Landscape

Parco delle Madonie

Madonie Park in Sicily, Italy | Nikon D750 Nikkor 24-85 f.3.5, 1/320, f11, ISO 200

The Madonie is more to the west, forming part of the Palermo province. Its landscape features the Madonie Mountains that form part of the Appennini range. In the Madonie mountains you can practice skiing in Piano Battaglia (possible only a few days during the year due to low levels of snow) and also go for wildlife spotting. Some of the wildlife that inhabit the park include foxes, weasels, rabbits but also deers. The park is also home to over half of all the flora found on the island. Several villages that lie on the borders of the park are also worth visiting and most of them are located on hills. Check out my previous blog post on the villages of the Madonie for more information.

Practical Infornation:

  • Area: 39 941 km2
  • Province: Palermo
  • Activities: Trekking, Skiing, Wildlife Spotting
  • Best time to visit: Winter or Spring
  • Website: http://www.parcodellemadonie.it/

Places to photograph:

  • Piano Battaglia
  • Laghetto Mandria del Conte
  • Piano Zucchi

Parco dei Nebrodi

Views of Etna from the southern part of the Nebrodi Park in Sicily, Italy | Nikon D750 Nikkor 24-85 f.3.5, 1/250, f11, ISO 200

This is the largest park in Sicily with an area covering over 85 hectares. I haven’t had yet time enough to explore well this park and when I visited I was not able to reach the lakes and waterfalls of this park. The ideal time to visit the park is in Winter or Spring since in summer it is too hot to go for trekking. You will surely encounter the numerous wild bores that populate the park. There are plenty of them and you must be careful since they can become quite aggressive. This park apart from trekking offers various spots for picnics. This park is huge and driving involves long winding roads; so allow enough time to stop often especially if you suffer from motion sickness.

Practical Infornation:

  • Area: 85 587 km2
  • Province: Messina, Catania & Enna
  • Activities: Trekking
  • Best time to visit: Winter or Spring
  • Website: http://www.parcodeinebrodi.it/

Places to photograph:

  • Views of Etna from the southern area of the park
  • Cascate Catafurco
  • Lago Biviere

Parco fluviale dell’Alcantara

Alcantara River in Sicily, Italy | Nikon D750 Nikkor 24-85 f.3.5, 1/400, f5.6, ISO 200

This reserve has its name from the Alcantara river that has its origins in the Nebrodi Park and ends up in the Ionian seas in the limits of Giardini Naxos. This river park is a very popular destination especially in summer since you can swim in the cool waters of the rivers and stay at the shade of the basalt walls that form up the walls of the gorge. The landscape here is very unique and the colours of the waters are amazing. I suggest walking along the trail that go along the rim of the gorge before actually taking the lift to descend to the lower part of the gorge. You will be able to admire several waterfalls. It is also good to know that the levels of the water are at their highest point in summer and thus making it the ideal time to visit if you intend to swim.

Practical Infornation:

Places to photograph:

  • Sorgente di Venere
  • Balcone delle Cascatelle
  • Spiaggetta delle Gole

Cavagrande del Cassibile

Cavagrande del Cassibile in Sicily, Italy | Canon Powershot SX10IS 1/200, f4.5, ISO 100

Cavagrande del Cassibile is located in the southern part of Sicily near Avola. The park covers the area surrounding the Cassibile river and is characterised by a canyon with several pools and waterfalls from a pool to another. Cavagrande is another destination popular for swimming in Summer, however the trek involved to reach the pools in the valley is quite difficult so you may want to consider visiting in Spring to avoid the heat. This canyon is also home to several species of flora and fauna like several types of birds, porcupine, turtles and crabs.  Check online prior your visit as the reserve might be closed due to the frequent landslides in winter as well as the fires in summer.

Practical Infornation:

Places to photograph:

  • Scala Cruci
  • Grotta dei Briganti
  • Various flora and fauna species

Riserva dello Zingaro

Views from the Provinciale 63 in Sicily, Italy | Nikon D750 Nikkor 24-85 f.3.5, 1/320, f7.1, ISO 100

This reserve is completely different from the previous ones since it is a coastal park where the main attractions are the numerous coves and beaches with crystal clear waters. Once again summer may be too hot to trek and you may wish to visit in Spring instead. The natural reserve stretches along 7km from Castellammare del Golfo up to San Vito lo Capo. Numerous and abundant species of rare and endemic flora and fauna have their habitat along the steep cliffs of the reserve. This park can only be visited on foot as you need to leave your car on either side of the park.

Practical Infornation:

Places to photograph:

  • The stretch of Coastline from the Strada Provinciale 63
  • Several Cales (or coves) of the park
  • Numerous species of flowers

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