Bosco di Ficuzza Reserve
The Oriented Natural Reserve Bosco della Ficuzza, Rocca Busambra, Bosco del Cappelliere and Gorgo del Drago , not far from the town of Corleone, is the largest green area in western Sicily , an enchanting place for those who love nature and relaxation.
It is a natural reserve, which extends for 7,400 hectares, of great value: the Ficuzza wood is among the most beautiful in Sicily and there is the 80% of the animal species of the entire region. This place has remained intact over the years because, given the rocky nature of the environment, it was not possible to practice agriculture.
Inside the reserve, next to the Real Casina, there is the only center wildlife recovery of Sicily, various equipped areas and panoramic points including Puntale Romengo which offers a splendid view of the valley.
Of naturalistic interest are: the monumental cork of Castrateria ; Rocca Busandra , a peak of 1613 meters, the highest in western Sicily and an ancient hunting reserve of the Bourbons, with ridges and panoramic points for hikers; area of the lakes, the "round" and "long" whirlpools, which are found on the eastern side, the Godrano side; and the Gole del Drago.
The Gole del Drago is a natural canyon formed by the Frattina river in the territory of Corleone, a few kilometers from Palermo. The small waterfalls and small pools formed by water, the so-called Marmitte dei Giganti , are a true spectacle of nature: they are large cylindrical and deep holes where the water takes on a swirling course. Approaching the bed of the stream it can be seen how this, through the erosive action of water and karst, has furrowed the rock over time, forming chasms, eddies and small waterfalls in which the copious water, first disappears and then re-emerges among the boulders and luxuriant vegetation.
We can then glimpse the remains of a weir wall of the stream from where the water was conveyed to power a mill, of which today only a few traces can be seen.
In the stretch where the the slope is lessened, puddles with clear water have formed where it is possible to take a bath among the ferns, willows and elms and in the company of the rich local fauna and colorful dragonflies. The walls that close the slope are covered with rock plants of great botanical interest such as woody euphorbia, mountain cabbage, carnation and caper. Pigeons, jackdaws and birds of prey such as kestrels and peregrine falcons find refuge among the ravines of the rock.
On an excursion you can reach the main pool where you can stop in the shade of the large willows and poplars. From here the Frattina stream descends towards the Belice and assuming a more peaceful course.
Inside the park of Ficuzza there are also works of historical interest such as the Real Casina Borbonica and the King's throne.
La Real Casina di caccia is an imposing royal palace surrounded by greenery, with a huge English lawn in front and the dense Ficuzza wood behind. The palace was built at the behest of King Ferdinand of Bourbon. In 1799, following uprisings and the Napoleonic advance, the king left Naples with his family to move to Palermo, where he built the Chinese Palace, and in Ficuzza he built his summer residence, the Real Casina Bourbonica, and the wood. becomes his hunting lodge. Work on the building began in 1802 by the royal architect Carlo Chenchi with changes made by the architect Giuseppe Venanzio Marvuglia, who also took care of the Chinese building. The building, with a rectangular and severe facade, has a rectangular plan with a façade with the neoclassical lines of Sicilian architecture, dominated by the sculptural group of the god Pan and the goddess Diana with the Bourbon coat of arms in the center. The smaller buildings and the central square were built together with the building. Inside it is possible to visit some rooms. Unfortunately, most of them have a bare aspect following the looting that took place during the wars. Of particular interest is the king's bedroom which still retains ancient paintings depicting hunting scenes. Inside the palace, the naturalistic museum of the Ficuzza wood has been set up, which also houses stuffed animals.
The Pulpit of the King , or throne of the king , it is located inside the Bosco della Ficuzza at a height of 927 meters, in the heart of a precious nature reserve. It is a throne carved on the sandstone rock that the sovereign King Ferdinand used to hunt while sitting, while the beaters pushed the prey towards him. The Ficuzza wood in fact, at the end of the eighteenth century, was the hunting reserve of the Bourbon king. It was here that the king had the Real Casina Borbonica built, a place of summer residence where he could exercise his main passion, namely hunting. Of the king's chair only the foot remains, but it is certainly interesting to see this construction in the middle of the green. Following some insights into the King's Pulpit, it is believed that the pulpit could be an archaeological site and, more precisely, a sacred area from prehistoric times.