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e-borghi travel 3, Parks and villages: Parco dei Nebrodi, nature with a view

Nature with a view The Nebrodi Park is set between the provinces of Messina, Catania and Enna, it discloses all its beauty by exhibiting natural routes that astonish the travellers at every step with breathless views and an amazing mix of plants and animals. The widest green area of Sicily became a Park in 1993 and it’s covered by 87thousand hectares of vegetation including the forests, the mountains and the humid areas. The Park stretches on a wide area and it also “goes up” to 1.847 metres on the sea level from where you can see its highest mountain called Mount Soro. There’s a lot to be discovered thanks to the several routes that lead the tourists through the villages, the fields, the cultivations and the mountain areas. You will be impressed by the great variety of the flowers’ colours especially in Spring when you can also see some birds of prey: if you’re careful enough you’ll be able to see the hawks, the griffins and the royal eagle. Then you can enjoy an amazing view from the Nebrodi Park: from the mountain peaks and the pastures you can see the Eolie Islands up to her Majesty the Etna. Just a glance of this view deserves the entire journey. The most unusual Sicily and the Park’s routes You don’t expect this type of Sicily if you are in the Nebrodi valleys, it’s a wild area featured by a lush vegetation and thick woods. There are two main routes that offer different kind of excursions at different levels of difficulty. The Nebrodi Ridge is really beautiful, it links Portella Dagara (Floresta) to Serra Merio (Mistretta) from the East to the West side along 70 kilometres through the protected area and up to the unspoilt mountains and some important humid territories like the lake Maulazzo and the lake Biviere. On the other hand the Castro Rocks are a group of limestone rocks that feature the territory of Alcara Li Fusi, Longi, Militello Rosmarino and San Marco d’Alunzio that can be reached on an excursion that enable you to see the particular rocks’ shapes and the wide views as well as the griffins in the sky. The park, the villages, the food The Parks and its villages are featured by a remarkable artistic heritage that can’t be missed. San Marco d’Alunzio stands out, although being a tiny village there are 22 churches that belong to different historical periods. Mistretta, Troina, Capizzi, Cerami and Cesarò deserve to be discovered too since they feature beautiful buildings that are embellished by the use of the local stone. Randazzo and Bronte, two municipalities at the bottom of the Etna are particularly famous: the former for its wine and the latter for the pistachio. If you make your mouth water thinking about the pistachio, the Nebrodi Park will give you many satisfactions around the table as well. The dishes prepared by using the black pork meat are typical from this area together with the cheese, the salami and also the olive oil, the honey, the nuts, the berries that are used in many recipes that still represent the old, simple rich culture of peasants. The events Among the many popular festivals that are related to the celebrations of the patron saints that are held all through the year the most interesting ones are listed below: • On the last Friday of March there’s I Babbaluti in San Marco d’Alunzio (the Crucified Feast and a procession with some people wearing particular blue habits) • The Holy Week (The Jews in San Fratello, The Magdalene in Militello Rosmarino, U Scontru in Longi) • 24th June U Muzzuni in Alcara li Fusi (it’s the oldest feast of Italy that celebrates a good luck ritual in honour of Demetra) • 7th-8th September I Gesanti in Mistretta (some huge papier-mache characters walk near the Lady of Light on procession). Sleeping, tasting and buying The regional park of Nebrodi stretches from the Northern cost to the slopes of the Etna, it’s the widest natural area of Sicily. You can reach 1847 metres of Mount Soro from the coastline, it’s the highest peak of the region and it’s featured by the lush vegetation and the humid habitats. The sea is the main protagonist of the seaside hotel La Playa Bianca of Santo Stefano di Camastra, the village of pottery. The hotel is equipped with modern rooms with balconies and the owners organize guided tours of the Eolie islands, Messina, Agrigento, Taormina and Palermo. The seaside hotel Za’ Maria of Caronia is equipped with single, double and family rooms and it’s located in a village that matches the elegance with the art of pottery and the typical products. In Sant’Agata di Militello, a well-known sea place with a view on the Eolie islands you can find the farmhouse Villa Luca, an ancient residence immersed in the green, in a panoramic area with twelve rooms including one for disabled people, the tile floors and the furniture in the Sicilian style. The protagonist of the tables at the restaurant L’angolo di Manueliana in Santo Stefano di Camastra is the meat from the local breeding while you can taste the typical food at the restaurant Monte San Giovanni of San Marco d’Alunzio where they serve the delicious pappardelle (sort of tagliatelle) with the white and black pork sauce, the baked sausages with the porcini mushrooms and the fried lamb with potatoes. At the restaurant La Petrusa of Longi the home-made maccheroni (a type of pasta) with the black pork sauce from the Nebrodi area, the grilled meat, the cheese and the salami are the main dishes. Your shopping destination is Santo Stefano di Camastra with its tiny pottery shops. In the shop belonging to Caruso Giuseppe you’ll be impressed from the several pottery creations like the lamps, the plates and the centrepieces and in the Antonio Piscitello’s awarded artistic pottery factory the local art meets a 330 years old history.

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