1. Palermo > Monreale > Santa Cristina Gela

Vote: 3.4
Municipalities: Palermo, Santa Cristina Gela
Trail lenght: 23,8 Km
Max. height: 772 mt.
Elevazione minima:: 26 mt.
Difficulty: Hard
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Stage Description

Stage: 80% asphalt – 20% gravel/dirt road

The first stage of the Magna Via Francigena starts after a visit to the Cathedral of Palermo, erected by the Normans on the area of an earlier Muslim mosque. The surroundings offer some of the best examples of Palermo’s medieval architecture which blend Byzantine influences, Muslim craftwork and Norman-French culture. Among these are the Churches of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, and San Cataldo, the Admiral’s Bridge (Ponte dell’Ammiraglio), the Palatine Chapel and the Royal Palace.

Once you leave the Cathedral to your right, go under Porta Nuova and follow the Corso Calatafimi that borders Palermo in the south-west and gently climbs for several kilometers until, after about 7 km, you reach the slopes of Monreale and the Cathedral erected by King Wilhelm II, called the Good, who established the royal diocese in Monreale. A detour at km 5.6 allows you to visit the Church of Santa Ciriaca, an ancient place of worship that hosted the bishop of Palermo during the Muslim rule. The delightful cloister and the mosaics inside are breathtaking. As you are leaving a big city please be aware that during the first section of the stage you will have to walk on asphalt most of the time.

After a few turns, down on an ancient trazzera, a drover’s road, you reach the valley and continue walking up towards the outskirts of Altofonte, once hunting grounds of the Norman kings. The route crosses an old railway track to Corleone, now an asphalt road, and turns on a path that leads you through a quarry on a quite steep climb which is the quickest way up to Contrada Brigna on the SP5 road that borders the forest. The track passes Cozzo Rebuttone, a ridge encompassing the Conca D’Oro (the area around Palermo is nicknamed the golden basin) and continues following an ancient drover’s road, still reflected in the toponymy of via Altofonte, towards the hills near Santa Cristina Gela.

The first stage of the Magna Via Francigena starts after a visit to the Cathedral of Palermo, erected by the Normans on the area of an earlier Muslim mosque. The surroundings offer some of the best examples of Palermo’s medieval architecture which blend Byzantine influences, Muslim craftwork and Norman-French culture. Among these are the Churches of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, and San Cataldo, the Admiral’s Bridge (Ponte dell’Ammiraglio), the Palatine Chapel and the Royal Palace.

Once you leave the Cathedral to your right, go under Porta Nuova and follow the Corso Calatafimi that borders Palermo in the south-west and gently climbs for several kilometers until, after about 7 km, you reach the slopes of Monreale and the Cathedral erected by King Wilhelm II, called the Good, who established the royal diocese in Monreale. A detour at km 5.6 allows you to visit the Church of Santa Ciriaca, an ancient place of worship that hosted the bishop of Palermo during the Muslim rule. The delightful cloister and the mosaics inside are breathtaking. As you are leaving a big city please be aware that during the first section of the stage you will have to walk on asphalt most of the time.

After a few turns, down on an ancient trazzera, a drover’s road, you reach the valley and continue walking up towards the outskirts of Altofonte, once hunting grounds of the Norman kings. The route crosses an old railway track to Corleone, now an asphalt road, and turns on a path that leads you through a quarry on a quite steep climb which is the quickest way up to Contrada Brigna on the SP5 road that borders the forest. The track passes Cozzo Rebuttone, a ridge encompassing the Conca D’Oro (the area around Palermo is nicknamed the golden basin) and continues following an ancient drover’s road, still reflected in the toponymy of via Altofonte, towards the hills near Santa Cristina Gela.

 

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