The route explores the limestone reliefs of the western portion of the Palermo Mountains, within the SIC “Monte Grifone”. The area consists of a chain of reliefs bordering the Conca d’Oro basin on the south, with various peaks between 700 and 800 m forming a ridge, the highest peak of which is Mount Grifone (882 m).
The landscape is characterized by its barren appearance, typical of the grasslands of the local carbonate massifs. The flora environment is characterized by intense use in the past and the frequency of fires. There are sporadic coniferous forestry plots, while the most natural combinations, olive and holm oak groves, are found in the most rocky areas, generally less affected by fires. The excursion starts at the horse-riding center of Oasi del Cavallo at Villa Ciambra, and with a cross street of Via Ciraulo, along back streets you cross first Via Altofonte and continue to Via Piana degli Albanesi, continuing in the direction of Altofonte for about 600m, leaving behind vehicular traffic and entering a forest road, accessed by request through the equestrian center.
The route will take us from the edge of the outskirts of Palermo to the summit of Mount Cuccio, imposing limestone massive that dominates the city from its 1050 m elevation and is part of SIC “Raffo Rosso, Monte Cuccio and Vallone Sagana “.
Formerly known as “Acute” for its characteristic form, it is predominantly made of Triassic, white and floury dolomite stone. The massif is covered by prairies of Ampelodesmos mauritanicus grasses, with pastures in the flattest valleys, where colluvial deposits have accumulated. Great views can be enjoyed both from the summit of Mount Cuccio and other overlooks along the way.
The route takes place in the Ficuzza Wooded Nature Reserve, Rocca Busambra, Bosco del Cappelliere woods and Gorgo del Drago the dragon’s whirlpool, an area characterized by a large evergreen Mediterranean forest, dominated to the south by the limestone massif of the Rocca Busambra, whose overhanging cliffs can be seen from most parts of Sicily.
We depart from the Agriturismo Gorgo del Drago equestrian center near the town of Godrano, with a path that leads towards Gorgo del Drago pond, or Gorgo Tondo, then continuing along the Gorgo Lungo. These are ponds linked to the presence of clay soils and of great ecological importance for the permanence of water even in the dry season.