After an amazing 4 days in Palermo, Sicily, it was time to meet up with the team from Backroads to hike for the next five days. John and I have traveled with Backroads on several occasions–including biking Provence and hiking western Ireland–and we have so loved our adventures. You see amazing scenery, get out into nature, and meet interesting folks who have lived very interesting lives.
Bright and early, we rolled our suitcases from the Palermo Air BnB apartment to a nearby hotel where the Backroads group was meeting. We said hello to the group who ranged in age from their early 40s to 70s, and then we all piled into a bus that would carry us to a welcome lunch before hiking the charming, sea-hugging village of Cefalú.
Here are a few snaps from the first two days of our Backroads hiking adventure…
Here’s John on the beach at Cefalú, a charming historic town to the east of Palermo. We loved exploring the 12th-century Norman cathedral and wandering along the rocks jutting out into the sea. Cefalú’s ancient city sits high above the town but the proposed hike to the top wasn’t an option that afternoon due to the high winds that closed the paths scaling the citadel. Instead, we took the first afternoon easy and settled into our hotel after exploring town with a cool cocktail looking onto the coast.
Home base for the first two days of our Backroads tour was the groovy Hotel Le Calette, perched high above the sea near Cefalú. Dating from the late 1960s, the hotel boasts a stunning pool, postcard-perfect vistas, and comfortable rooms that called to mind a super-chic cave (think a wall of windows only at the front). We loved the heaps of bougainvillea and palms swaying overhead against the white-on-white backdrop.
On the second day of our Backroads journey, we headed to the charming, historic town of Castelbuono to hike the stunning, surrounding landscape that comprises the Parco delle Madonie. Before we set off into the wild, we met Castelbuono’s local trashman and his donkey. During the hike we got to have great conversations with fellow Backroads travelers, including a software marketing guru from Baltimore, a foodie from Hong Kong who works in the financial space, and a heavy hitter with Frito-Lay in Dallas. What an amazing group!
Here’s John beginning the hike with his Backroads backpack firmly fixed through the atmospheric streets of Castelbuono.
A wonderful uphill hike in the Parco delle Madonie led us to stunning vistas peppered with wheat fields and olive groves. Absolutely stunning!
John stands tall after a particularly intense uphill hike within the Parco delle Madonie. We would soon break for lunch at a nearby vineyard, and we certainly deserved the delicious red wine that was on the menu!
Here are our fellow Backroads hikers hotfooting it up a high hill in the Parco delle Madonie. What a great group with such interesting lives. The gal with her hands raised is Laura, one of the wonderful Backroads team leaders.
The Backroads team took us to a wonderful eatery near Cefalú for dinner called Osteria Bacchus where the group supped upon amazing fresh fish and steamed artichokes paired with other Sicilian specialties. What a wonderful, relaxed dinner! The dinner at the Osteria was truly a highlight of the hiking portion of our Sicilian adventures.