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The period of the red leaves (or “feuillage”) is that short period of time in year when the leaves change colour before dying and falling. These are the days of the “autumn colours” (video), which in certain northern nations fill the eyes with beauty for weeks. In Sicily, on the other hand, the cold seasons arrive late and when they do so it happens quickly. So the change in colour of the leaves does not last long.

There are one or two weeks for you to admire this explosion of warm shades in the Sicilian woods. There is no exact date but it often happens between October 20th and November 15th. And when it happens you have to seize the moment. Because a windy day is enough to permanently strip the branches. Enthusiasts of autumn-colour days have a keen eye, they know exactly when to prepare and which routes to take. Here we reveal some unmissable ones.

Timparossa, queen of red leaves

The name itself says it, Timparossa (the red hill). This path located on the north side of Mount Etna leads to a refuge immersed in a beech forest. In autumn it takes on amazing colours: red, yellow, orange, brown. The ideal route to reach Timparossa starts from Piano Provenzana, another famous route for the autumn colour. In the woods around the chairlift station there are many trees that in this period change their colour to golden yellow or bright red. The contrast with the lava and with the white trunks of the “dead” trees makes everything very suggestive. The walk from Piano Provenzana to Timparossa takes about an hour, not excessively heavy.

autumn colours at Etna North

The route of Ragabo and the Sartorius

Still on the north side of Etna, you can reach the Ragabo pine forest. You walk along paths that wind in the shade of very tall (15 meters) centuries-old pines which alternate with oaks and beeches. Pines are evergreen, so they don’t change colour in the fall. But at the end of the pine forest path, close to the 2002 lava flows, the woods are dotted with thick red spots. Perhaps there are fewer colors than elsewhere, here, but the route is more touristic, easy and above all very fragrant!

Do not miss the phenomenon of red leaves also on the route of the Sartorius craters, not far from the pine forest. Here the beautiful Etna birches predominate, which in autumn take on that spectacular golden-yellow colour. It looks like the Norwegian autumn, even if here we are in the heart of the Mediterranean! The Sartorius path is flat, easy, well marked and suitable for everyone. Even the ascent to the craters is simple and not at all tiring.

Autumn colours in Messina

If you like red leaf paths, you can choose a different one each year, so to vary. Even in the Messina district there are many wood itineraries to enjoy during the autumn. Number one is certainly the Nebrodi Park, to be exact the area of the lakes in the territory of San Teodoro. Lake Maulazzo and Lake Biviere di Cesarò are surrounded, these days, by spectacular colours. Not just trees, but ferns too. Near Montalbano Elicona, the prince of autumn feuillage is the Malabotta Wood, rich in beeches and chestnut trees but also in many austere oaks that alternate with these lively spots.

Madonie Park and the autumn colours

The Madonie Park is located between the districts of Messina and Palermo. In the Petralie area (Petralia Soprana and Petralia Sottana) it offers a colourful fairytale setting, with the expanses of beech woods around Piano Battaglia and Piano Faina.

The most lively variety of colours in the Palermo area, however, belongs to Bosco della Ficuzza, an ancient royal hunting reserve which is now a protected park. Here dozens of trees of all species and sizes give one of the best feuillage show in the whole of Western Sicily.

In the heart of Sicily …

Finally, perhaps not everyone knows that beautiful autumn colours also light up the heart of Sicily. It happens in particular along the ridges that from Nicosia (Enna) arrive in Mistretta (Messina). Here there are woods of Turkey oaks, elderberries, hollies and beech trees, protagonists of the Protected Reserve of Sambughetti-Campanito. Most of these trees, in autumn, take on warm colors ranging from gold to red-orange to dark red. A Sicilian heart … red with love! (photos by G Musumeci)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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