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.
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.
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Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini
63088 Montemonaco, Province of Ascoli Piceno, Italy
Good To Know
1) Book a hotel, hostel, or private apartment for your stay in Umbria.
2) When in Umbria, make your time special with a guided tour.
3) Digging Italy as much as we do here at this blog do? Check out these posts that will make you book a trip there ASAP.
- All The Reasons Why You Need To Visit Brindisi, Italy – Visit Brindisi, a little known Italian town in Puglia, for grand cathedrals, an ancient roman column, a scenic seaside promenade, and more.
- Eating Lunch At Tschötscherhof Farm In The Italian Alps – Stop for lunch, eat locally grown produce, & visit a historical museum at the remote Tschötscherhof Farm in the Italian Alps.
- Marmore Falls In Italy Is Home To The World’s Tallest Manmade Waterfall – Marmore Falls is the largest manmade waterfall in the world. Created by the Romans, this 2000 year old waterfall is 165 meters high.
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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.
Hehe, I took a donkey ride in Santorini last summer. It’s was just a 30 minute ride up a hill but well worth the 5 euros.
Ha, crazy travel bloggers! Donkeys are remarkably strange animals – I’ve never figured them out. Which is a strange thing to say, but it’s true!
That looks like an awesome trek – mine was only half donkey, it was a mule but hey I`m not complaining!
….making me jealous! though it looks cold so i’m okay with missing it 🙂
@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. 🙂
@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. 🙂
@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!
Looks like fun – the scenery is amazing! I’ve never ridden one but we put John on a donkey in Petra – it was hilarious!
@Andrea – It was fun and the setting surreal. Nice that you got John on a donkey! See, I knew it was THE cool way to travel. 😀
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.
Looks like fun Cheryl! And what a beautiful area of the world. So jealous that we didn’t get to visit Umbria for TBU but hopefully next time 🙂
@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.
@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!
Interesting. The landscape doesn’t look like Italy at all – or at least not the Italy I know. More like Iceland!
@Katie – The landscape is rather stunning I think. I like how it gives you a different picture of Italy. 🙂
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).
@Tristan – You should definitely go on a donkey ride! It’s great fun. Whaaattt?? Tell me this other story.
I rode a donkey on a Greek island once….I think it was Santorini. And I wrote in my journal, “first time riding a donkey.”
@Stephanie – They should have Four Square badges for the experience!
I reckon that would be so much fun! It certainly is in a beautiful setting.
@Spencer – Try this if you can! And agree, the setting is really beautiful.
Beautiful landscape. It looks like a lot of fun!
@Dean – It was really fun! I’d love to do it again.
Donkeys are pretty cool I must say. You took pretty great shots! Daphne looks pretty happy being your companion on your journey across Umbria.
@Alexa – It was a really fun time, I have to admit. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. 🙂
@Umbria on the Blog – Thanks for stopping by! It was definitely worth it and I’d do it all over again. 🙂
It was worth braving your hangover–ahem–exhaustion to snap these gorgeous pics!