Stage: 30% asphalt – 70% gravel/dirt track
The Magna Via leaves the town of Santa Cristina Gela following the ancient Bourbon Royal Road (Regia Trazzera RT) 28 that runs alongside the valley and reaches Mount Giuhai. After a short climb, you pass the Portella Sant’Agata and start descending towards the surroundings of Masseria Sant’Agata, a traditional Sicilian farmhouse where archaeologists found a Hellenistic-Roman necropolis with pottery dating back to the Byzantine period. The ridge overlooking the lake of Piana has always been a strategical vantage point and the climb through the woods that stretch out to the lake allows unexpected views across the countryside. Once you walk by the Masseria Sant’Agata you return on the SP5 road and then follow the drover’s road that is still used for the transhumance. Along the way you will pass by fields and paths with tall grass, you will walk past traditional farmhouses until you reach the junction Catagnano from where the route continues towards the Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Rosary of Tagliavia, a place of retreat and prayer that has always hosted pilgrims and wanderers. Today, a religious community devoted to the Virgin Mary, called Le Cinque Pietre (the five stones) runs the place and keeps the religious traditions alive. After the sanctuary and the ancient watchtower at Cozzo Saladino, the route joins the highway SS118 and the left Belice river. At that point, it turns left and joins the bike path on the other side of the highway and continues straight on to the hills of Pizzo Nicolosi and Rocca Argenteria, which are excellent observation points for geological analysis today, but once served as settlements for the control of this section of the Greek-Roman road. The limestone canyons called Gole del Drago are worth a detour of 3.2 km at km 17.5 on the bike path. The canyon was shaped by the tributary of the left Belice river. Back on the main track, follow the RT28 straight to Corleone, across endless fields, along a trail with a few tough climbs, past ancient farmhouses and the place where the spectacular Roman milestone was found. The milestone marked the road built by the Roman consul Aurelius Cotta during the First Punic War and is now displayed at the Archaeological Museum of Corleone.