Stage: 20% asphalt , 80% gravel/dirt track
This is the longest stage of the whole route. It covers about 26km and it is also the only stage that crosses many municipalities that are partners of the project Magna Via Francigena. As soon as you leave Sutera, with its monuments and its impressive fortification overlooking the Valley of the Platani river and facing the town of Aragona, the trail takes a strange turn. Recent excavations unveiled the track of an ancient drover’s road that led to the Gallo d’Oro river which marks the border between the towns of Sutera and Milena. The remains of a bridge that was used until the last century indicate the direction of the ancient main route. The ancient geographer al Idrisi reports that “Sutera is a center with a lot of traffic where travelers go back and forth”, most likely in the direction of Palermo and Agrigento. The ancient road is walkable during the summer in the direction of the river and the Monte Conca Nature Reserve. During the winter, pilgrims should follow the minor road (strada provincial SP) that leads from the town of Campofranco to the modern-day bridge over the Gallo d’Oro river. Once you cross the bridge, follow the SP24 road until you reach a fountain where the two alternative routes converge. Fill up some fresh water and after a short hike you will reach Milena, the second town of the stage that is partner of the project. It is a perfect spot for a break or even an overnight stay. Pilgrims can get a meal, fill up with fresh water and visit the archaeological Antiquarium on site. The ancient Milocca with its farmhouses is now a welcoming rural town nestled against the fertile hills. The trail continues towards the settlement of Serra del Palco and the nearby necropolis with archaeological findings dating back to the Bronze Age, the Byzantine period and the High Middle Ages. The trail continues further uphill towards the public woods of “Bosco Zellante” and reaches the hilltop from where a path allows a fast descent towards Racalmuto, the town where the famous Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia was born. That is why Racalmuto is one of the towns included in the literary itinerary called Via degli Scrittori (the route of the writers). Among its monuments that are worth visiting are the Castle of the Chiaramonte dynasty, the fountain called “Novi Cannola”, the Mother Church and the Church of San Francesco. From Racalmuto, the trail continues for another 3 km, past a fountain, and reaches the rural town of Grotte which historical records go back to 1500 and include mentions of the “Baronessa di Carini” as well as the Petra (rock) used as a necropolis and sanctuary.