Driving west from Gangi, the landscape gets always more mountainous, and when I take the road from Petralia to the north, I drive straight into the Madonie mountains. My plan is to hike up to the Pizzo Carbonara: the second highest peak of Sicily (after Mount Etna, of course). Thick clouds hang in the sky, and it is much later than I had planned, as I took my time to discover the beauty of Gangi earlier that morning. By the time I park at the trailhead, it is almost three. The information board is partly illegible, and I cannot clearly see the trails. I just take the trail up the mountain, and the switchbacks take me higher quickly. The views are always better, also of the forest-covered mountain which has ski slopes carved out of the trees. When I reach a small forest, rain starts to fall, and I put all my gear in my backpack. When I emerge from the forest, the rain stops falling, and to my surprise the sun even comes piercing through the clouds.
When I reach a mountain hut, I search for the shortest trail that is marked on my map. But after criss-crossing through a field of rocks, I just do not find it, and I decide to take the longer route, which is clearly indicated. There is what looks like a natural amphitheatre in the side of the mountain. The going is easy now, I push on, and reach the summit in just under an hour. A small wooden sign indicates Pizzo Carbonara, 1979m. Just a day after summiting Mount Etna, I have now also bagged the second highest mountain of Sicily. I have free views in all directions. Some of the mountains around me are covered in thick forests, while others are bare rocks. In the distance, I can just see the coastline of northern Sicily, but the Aeolian Islands that are supposedly visible from here, cannot be seen, as the sky is too hazy. I eat some fruit, and then try to find the shortcut path back to the trailhead. The marked trail continues, but veers towards the east. I see that this will eventually come back to the main road, and guess that the distance will not be much more than taking the same trail. I always prefer not to take the same trail back, so I continue the trail.
So I descend the steep slope of the Pizzo Carbonara. There is still a little bit of sunshine, and in the narrow valley below, I see deer roaming around. The trail does not go down into the valley, but skirts the side, meandering through another forest with some very old trees. I start hearing thunder in the distance. When I turn west towards the main road, the landscape opens up again, and I can see the road, several other trails, the mountains around me, and a particularly dark sky above my head. The thunder gets closer, I see lightning, and rain start to fall when I am descending on switchbacks through the meadow. I see sheep and cows grazing, apparently not caring at all about the water coming down. It only takes a few minutes before the rain turns into a heavy downpour. I am happy I was wise enough to take my raincoat, but I get soaked anyway. Some parts are muddy and slippery, and when I reach the road, it is not necessarily better because thick streams of water run across, making sure that also my waterproof shoes get soaked. To my surprise, in another ten minutes, the sun comes through, and when I am driving down to the coast, I get some great views of the Madonie mountains and the Pizzo Carbonara.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Pizzo Carbonara (Italy). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Pizzo Carbonara. Read more about this site.