The National Park of Madonie is one of the most famous and largest nature reserves on Sicily. It is located not far from the Cefalu resort, between the cities of Castelbuono and Scillato in the region of the Madonie Mountains that gave the name to the park. The park is really huge. Besides the mountains and the forests there are 15 small towns on the territory of the park. Almost each of these cities has the monuments of the Middle Ages era be it a castle or a church. Due to the combination of nature and architecture sights the tour of the Madonie Park is one of the most fascinating opportunities to discover Sicily.
The total area of the park is about 35,000 hectares. Mountains occupy a great territory of the park. There are several peaks here that are higher than 1,000 meters. The largest point after Etna on Sicily is also located in Madonie. It is the mount Pizzo Carbonara (1,979 m). In winter local peaks are actively used by the winter sports fans. The favorite resort is Piano Battaglia. Beside the Madonie mountain range there is one more mountain range in the park – the Nebrodi.
Spring and autumn are the two seasons when the nature of Madonie Park is especially beautiful. The park flora has more than 2,000 plant species many of which are not met elsewhere in the world.
A great part of the Madonie Park is represented by fields and pastures as well as by orchards, vineyards and olive trees. Agriculture has been developed here through the ages. During many centuries the residents of Madonie held a great number of distinctive rites and festivities. Almost each settlement has its own special celebrations like the patron saint of the town or village, harvest festivals or various vine festivals, etc.
Beside many celebrations of the towns have their own traditional trades. For example, in the vicinity of Castelbuono people gather “manna”. It is white resin that is usually gathered from the ash stumps of a special kind which is often called “manna tree”. People believe that such resin is curative.
Architecture is an inseparable part of the Madonie Park. Some of its towns can be proud of their monuments. They were founded in the ancient Roman era and bloomed in the times of the Arab, Byzantine and Normans reign. Among the former largest cities one can find the Arab colonies of Caltavuturo and Petralia that consists of Petralia Soprana and Petralia Sottana, the Norman Citadel of Polizzi Generosa and native Sicilian Castelbuono.