In a land so rich in contrasts and contradictions, it is
difficult to say whether its real soul lies in the sea, in its history, folklore,
traditions or in its unspoiled natural environment. The contradictory character of the
Sicilians reflects their countryside that alternates moments of gentle beauty with desert
areas burnt by the sun. Palermo itself can offer the glorious sea of Cefalý and the
charming mountains of the Madonie with the snow fields of Piano Battaglia.
The Madonie contain gems of rare beauty. The Regional Park of the Madonie, the second
largest in Sicily after Etna, has been founded here among immense woods and old Mediaeval
villages. Here we can find woods of silvery holly bushes, gurgling streams and fir-trees
in a wild landscape. The abyss of Ciacca, which reaches a depth of one hundred meters, the
massif of Monte Cervi and Monte Quacella are just some of the outstanding features of this
natural paradise where there is a wealth of chestnut trees, poplars, ash and oak trees,
and where one can still see the peregrine falcon, the kestrel, the kite and the raven
The heart of the Park of the Madonie is Geraci Siculo, an Appennine island in a
Mediterranean context. The peat bogs of Geraci are a real botanical treasure chest,
preserving thousands of years of botanical history. Farm tourism is now becoming a reality
in the Madonie area; several old farmhouses have already been restored and offer
interesting possibilities. The regional administration in Palermo has made funds available
for the realization of the "Hotel-Village" which offers long holidays at very
low costs. All the communes in the Madonie have a noble history, monuments and fine works
of art, but above all they have preserved a link to their oldest traditions. These live on
in the genuine cuisine, the precious craftsmanship and the local festivities that are more
than simple folklore.
To appreciate the Madonie to the full we should go as far as the extreme borders of the
province where we find Gangi with its splendid old town center, Geraci Siculo with its
history and "Treasure" that is not only that of the Ventimiglia family of
Palermo. The territory of the province of Palermo also includes the Feuds, equally rich in
history and traditions. Then there is the wine-making area and the lakes around Partinico.
The area of Corleone too is gradually emerging from its traditional isolation and
concentrating on farm tourism. In the province of Palermo it is also possible to enjoy
nature by means of a new form of tourism on horseback. There are a number of riding
centers, all approved by the national horse tourism association.
Alternative tourism does not necessarily mean cheap or simple evasion, but offering new
possibilities of rediscovering old popular traditions, enjoying good cooking, allowing
oneself to be carried away by the charm of a legend or moved by the evocative power of the
ruins of an old castle, the imposing bulk of a noble palace, or the great luminous spaces
of a Baroque church. The province of Palermo offers all this, but above all the chance to
rediscover a more human side that big cities have now irretrievably lost.