The park is managed by the Madonie Park Authority , based in Petralia Sottana and covers 39,941 hectares, divided into four areas:
Integral reserve area in which the natural environment is preserved in its integrity . In these areas, ecosystems and ecotones (or parts thereof) of great naturalistic and landscape interest are identified, presenting a relatively minimal anthropization. For these areas, the Madonie Park Authority gradually proceeded with the acquisition of the related areas;
General reserve area in which it is forbidden to build new building works , expand existing buildings, carry out land transformation works. In these areas the agro-forestry-pastoral uses and the strictly necessary infrastructures such as access roads can be allowed by the Park management body, ecosystems and ecotones (or parts thereof) of high naturalistic value are identified. and landscape with a greater degree of anthropization than in zone A;
Protection area in which only constructions, building and land transformations are allowed, specifically aimed at enhancing the Park's founding purposes, such as tourist-accommodation , cultural structures and parking areas;
Control area in which all activities are allowed as long as they are compatible with the purposes of the Park.
To go horseback riding through woods and paths you do not need a particular skill, you follow the paths of transhumance.
To be covered entirely on horseback in about eight hours , starting from the slopes of the Ferla district a few minutes from Cefalù, it leads through centuries-old olive groves, vineyards and manna ash trees, then climbing up to Castelbuono, on the slopes of the fortress of the Ventimiglia castle.
One day excursion
Of the same duration and of medium difficulty is the excursion that, starting from the beach of Torre Conca in Pollina, leads up to the large oaks of the Gibilmanna wood, crossing the village of Sant'Ambrogio (fraction of Cefalù) and skirting the wood in the district. Guarneri, protection zone A of the Park. Following the old mule tracks you reach the San Nicola fortress, at the foot of Pizzo Sant'Angelo.
Two day excursion
Always on ancient paths, a longer and more demanding crossing, which is advisable to make in two days, is the one that from Contrada Pozzetti (150 meters above sea level), in the municipality of Collesano and a few kilometers from the sea, leads to Piano Battaglia (1600 meters above sea level). ) crossing areas of great architectural, landscape and botanical value. In fact, after a short stretch of the Mediterranean scrub and olive groves, we enter a dense forest of cork oaks and downy oaks made impenetrable by an extensive heather scrub, with a splendid white bloom.
Following a paved and stepped path, one reaches the medieval abbey of San Giorgio in the territory of Gratteri, of which the magnificent Chiaramonte portal remains intact. From here, along the slopes of Pizzo Dipilo , passing the locks placed by the shepherds, you cross the Isnello-Collesano side, reaching the Munciarrati junction marked by the presence of the large farmhouse of Prince Licata di Baucina, former home of the counts of Isnello . Then continue to Piano Zucchi passing through the Volpignano district from where it is possible, after having crossed a shady oak forest.
In the early afternoon we leave for Piano Battaglia crossing the forest reserve and the small lake of the Mandria del Conte district, to finally enter the suggestive beech forest. In the evening, once in Piano Battaglia, you can stay overnight and leave the next day.
History of the Madonie Park
The mountainous system of the Madonie (Madonìe), a denomination disclosed in the sixteenth century and, in all likelihood, referring to Pliny's "high places on the mountain" - occupies a vast territory in the central-northern part of Sicily.
It is included between the Pollina River Valley to the east, the Northern Imera Valley to the west, a long stretch of the Tyrrhenian coast, the northern side of the Madonie, crossed by deep valleys, plunges with mighty walls towards the sea; to the south, on the other hand, the clayey hilly system of the Gangi, Petralie and Polizzi Generosa valleys connects the mountainous complex with the chalky-sulphurous plateau that opens towards the Nisseno area.
Central offshoot of the Sicilian Apennine chain, which extends from the western end of Capo San Vito to the eastern end of the Peloritani Mountains , the Madonita complex includes the highest peaks of the island, with the exception of Etna, some of which, such as Pizzo Carbonara , Pizzo Antenna grande, Monte San Salvatore , are almost 2,000 meters high.
These mountains are not only among the highest, formed from the Triassic about 200 million years ago, they are also among the oldest known in Sicily.
The natural vegetation cover , which represents one of the most considerable aspects of the Madonite orographic system and is a fundamental reason for the establishment of the Park, is particularly rich and varied, often of considerable interest, as are certain specific environments that constitute real naturalistic rarities.
The fauna , despite having to note the disappearance, here as in the rest of the island, of large mammals, still has a considerable variety of animals, some of which, however, belong to rare species of Italian or European fauna.