Riding Donkeys In Italy’s Monti Sibillini National Park

Riding Donkeys In Italy’s Monti Sibillini National Park – Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

It was a very long time ago when I first visited Monti Sibillini National Park. The day was cold, dark, and windy and as our bus drove us along the long winding road up to Castelluccio Plateau, we were treated to stunning views of Umbria’s Norcia Valley. Finally we reached our destination which sits at 1500 meters above sea level.

It felt like we had reached the ends of the earth. Stark, beautiful, lonely, surreal. Is it a mere coincidence that the Gorge of Hell is one of the primary attractions within the park?

Despite the gloomy weather conditions, my group and I were pretty excited! We’d be riding donkeys through the plateau on a very fun nature tour through the park with a guide named Roberto from La Mulattiera.

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Riding Donkeys In Italy’s Monti Sibillini National Park

Still a bit gobsmacked by the sheer beauty of the Castelluccio Plateau, I was almost envious of the animals who get to live in such a setting. In addition to donkey rides, tourists can also go horseback riding around the park.

We took time to meet our new donkey friends, and say hello to the horses as well.

I was paired with a trusty young donkey named Daphne, who would be my companion for the excursion. She turned out to be a somewhat unreliable during our ride, stopping too often to graze on grass and weeds. I couldn’t be mad at her cute little self, so at one point through the excursion I jumped off and walked her the rest of the way.

The ride started a little slow as we tried to get used to riding our little beasts, but we off before we knew it, seeing Monti Sibillini National Park in all her glory.

As it’s hard to attempt to snap photos from the back of a donkey (as Laurel from Monkeys and Mountains can attest), I hopped off Daphne to not just to let her have her own way, but embark on an extreme photo shoot.

Did I mention, we also came across sheep grazing in the plateau? They were even being led by a shepherd, if that’s what they call themselves these days.

Sadly, the time passed by all too quickly and we then had to head back and move on to our next activity. It was hard letting my cute Daphne go.

If you’re looking for yet another beautiful place to visit in Italy, do consider a visit to Monti Sibillini National Park. It’s even better in the summer when the plateau is painted with the colour of the local flora and fauna! And of course, take a donkey or horseback ride to experience visiting the plateau all the richer.

Watch/share this video about Monti Sibillini National Park and better yet, subscribe to my Youtube channel for even more travel related videos.


Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini
63088 Montemonaco, Province of Ascoli Piceno, Italy

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Founder of cherylhoward.com. Canadian in Berlin. Frequent traveller now at 43 countries and counting.


  1. Well Nina was my favorite, but yes it’s surprisingly difficult to take photos from the back of a donkey. I think I have a photo of you and Daphne if you still want it. Thanks for the mention.

  2. @Laurel – I’m sad as I didn’t have any photos of you and Nina! She definitely has personality. Loved your post and photos about the donkeys. 🙂

  3. @Roy – Is it odd that it’s my dream to take a donkey ride in Greece? Your ride sounds amazing and only 5 euros? Even better!

    @Christy – We are a wild and crazy bunch! They are a bit strange. 🙂

  4. @Ayngelina – Your trek looked amazing too! Ours was great as well. 🙂

    @Adam – In a day or two, you’ll be living large in Costa Brava and I’ll feel the same. I want to go back soooo much!

  5. Looks like fun – the scenery is amazing! I’ve never ridden one but we put John on a donkey in Petra – it was hilarious!

  6. I love the photos. Very picturesque. However, the donkeys look at you like “why are you taking my picture? Isn’t it bad enough you are going to get on top of me when all I really want to do is eat grass?”

    The sheep looked much friendlier as they frolicked in the fields (do sheep frolick? does eating grass count as frolicking?).

    Monti Sibillisi looks beautiful though. I am not sure the donkeys would agree.

  7. @Jeremy – Thanks so much! This area is really really beautiful. A little different from a typical Tuscan countryside view! Ahhh, the donkeys were friendly just independent little buggers. I like watching the dogs trying to herd the sheep … it’s quite funny seeing them corralling the sheep.

  8. @Cole – It was a blast, even with the hangover. 😉

    I so wish you could have made it to TBU. Would have been great to meet you both!

  9. Gorgeous! And I’m somewhat envious, as I’ve always wanted to ride a donkey (and have palm branches thrown at me, but that’s a different story).

  10. I reckon that would be so much fun! It certainly is in a beautiful setting.

  11. Donkeys are pretty cool I must say. You took pretty great shots! Daphne looks pretty happy being your companion on your journey across Umbria.

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