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84km (52 miles) SW of Catania, 181km (112 miles) SW of Messina, 164km (102 miles) SE of Palermo, 103km (64 miles) NW of Ragusa, 134km (83 miles) NW of Syracuse.

One of Sicily's most attractive areas of natural beauty, the Parco Regionale delle Madonie is home to mountains, hills, forests, and glades punctuated by medieval hill-top villages, making it an ideal place to go hiking, mountaineering, and in the winter, skiing. Just 6km (3 3/4 miles) south of Cefalù, you can explore its 39,679 hectares (98,049 acres) on your own if you have plenty of time.

The park has been called a botanic paradise, and is considered to be the meeting point of three continents because it contains species endemic to central Europe, Asia, and north Africa, including olive, basilisk, fir, oak, and holly trees, and in springtime the hillsides are covered with a colorful carpet of wild flowers. Some of the most ancient rocks and mountains on the island are found here, and many buildings made from the local stone contain fossils. The highest peak is Pizzo Carbonara, at 1,979m (6,493 ft.), but wherever you are in the park you're likely to have a spectacular view.

But the park is far from a wilderness: You can also explore the picturesque charms of villages such as Petralia Soprana and Petralia Sottana, with their stone fountains of spring waters, steep cobbled streets, tiny alleys, and ceramic-tiled church spires. The area surrounding Castelbuono is also the only place in the world where manna, the sap from manna ash trees, is harvested. Locals eat manna both raw and flavored with cheese or chocolate, as well as using it as a natural sweetener.