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"Il Castagno dei Cento Cavalli" (Hundred Horse Chestnut) is undoubtedly the most famous tree on Etna. It is thought to be between 2000 and 4000 years old and it is considered to be one of the biggest and more ancient trees of the world. Its name comes from a legend: it is said that Giovanna I from Aragona and her 100 chevaliers found shelter under the branches of the chestnut during a storm. The chestnut’s trunk has a diameter of 22 metres, while the diameter of the branches is over 100 metres. Unfortunately in the latest decades the Chestnut has been damaged by humans and by nature, although it is still a colossal fascination , especially during the blossoming period.
The chestnut is located in the small town of Sant’Alfio and it is easy to reach by car. Nevertheless we suggest that the fittest went there by bike, while having a look at the Etna views and stopping by the small towns encountered along the way.
Our itinerary starts from (but it could start from other towns like Pedara, Trecastagni or also Catania, like we did once), where you can meet for a granita in one of the bar in the main square. Then we move to the north, towards Zafferana Etnea. Soon after the houses of Viagrande you can admire the nice views that will keep us company all the way to the chestnut: , while on the left now covered by trees. The more we go up and the more beautiful ; unlikely, every now and then we encounter some things that
Continuing our trip, we go pass three very small towns (Fleri, Poggio Felice e Sarro) before , lovely town especially renown for honey. Is very nice and during the clear days you can overlook the Ionic coast from Calabria to Siracusa.The two bar in the square are perfect for a gastronomic break…very famous are the “sicilian pizzas” (a closed, deep fried pizza) and the “skiing” biscuits (but I don’t like them too much because they’re covered with chocolate!).Carrying on past Zafferana, we meet Milo, another small town on the slopes of Etna. In some parts, the road cuts across , while in other parts the road flows with views on the open sea.Once arrived in Milo, we can give another look before we continue in Fornazzo direction. Past this small town we finally see on the right the sign for the Chestnut in Sant'Alfio’s direction.We go along the road for a few kilometres until we meet the where the chestnut is located. After a few hundreds of metres we are . On the right of the chestnut there is made by J. Houel, currently on show at the Hermitage. It reminds us the way the tree once must have looked like.Carrying on the street that has led us to the chestnut of the 100 horses, we meet of Etna . It has been calculated that this tree is over 1000 years old. This name was given to it because of the shape of the branches of the tree that makes you think of a boat (to be honest you need to have a lot of imagination…).Now, in order to go back to Catania, we suggest going in Linguaglossa direction until you find the street SP59-III. Here you can turn left and go back trough Milo, Zafferana, and so on.
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