Monte Monaco is the northernmost summit in the north - south heading range of Parco Naturale dello Zingaro, a National Parc in the northwest of Sicily, west of the capital Palermo. Though not very high it rises directly above the Mediterranean sea with an almost perpendicular rockface to the north, which gives Monte Monaco a tall appearance.
Monte Monaco towers high above Capo San Vito, a narrow cape which stretches out to the north and forms the western boundary of a huge gulf, the Golfo di Castellamare. The village San Vito lo Capo lies on the end of this cape and directly below Monte Monaco. It offers great bathing opportunities, the village beach is really beautiful.
To the south are the higher summits and peaks of the National Parc to which Monte Monaco does not belong.
The best possibility is to get there by car. There is no railroad.
The public bus services can be - well - more than disappointing. If you don´t mind about it, check here if you can get a good connection. But always remember: if there is a bus on the schedule means not automatically that it will operate at all or be on time.
From Palermo or Agrigento take the highway A 29 and the A 29 dir in the direction to Trapani. Leave it at the exit "Erice" and follow the SS 187 in direction Castellamare del Golfo. You can leave the highway A 29 bewteen Palermo and Mazara del Vallo at the exit "Castellamare", too, and follow the SS 187 in the direction Trapani.
Near Baglio Messina leave the SS 187 where Custonaci and San Vito lo Capo is signposted. Follow the direction San Vito lo Capo until you arrive the village limits. Turn right for a shortcut to the eastcoast of the cape. Follow the coastal road to the south; after some old tunafish plants (Tonnara del Secco) the road starts ascending the east slopes of Monte Monaco.
Soon you see to your right a steep dirtroad climbing Monte Monaco. Soon after the intersection of this road with your road, there is a turnout on your left. Get parked here, go back until you reach the intersection. This is the trailhead.
Though not belonging to the National Parc Parco Naturale dello Zingaro there are restrictions of camping, fire and hunting.
You find accomodations at San Vito lo Capo.
Informations about Parco Naturale dello Zingaro.
Weather in Sicilia.
And NEVER forget the absolutely tasteful Sicilian food !!
Follow the dirt road up the mountain, it makes three switchbacks and arrives at a broad saddle between Monte Monaco and bold Pizzo di Sella.
You pass some farmhouses and follow the road to the north. After a while the road turns left and starts descending; leave the road here and follow an overgrown path straight on to the north. After arriving the south ridge of Monte Monaco the path gets better and traverses the west slopes, until it reaches the ridge again.
Be careful now, there are old limestone quarries, you might fall in ! Follow the different paths between the quarries an pass a water reservoir up to the summit with a huge summit cross.
Pay attention: there is a steep, nearly perpendicular rockface to the north.
Enjoy the wonderful sight over the sea, the mountains of Zingaro, the Golfo del Castellamare and its adjacent coastal ranges and Monte Cofano and Monte Erice to the west. If the weather is clear you might see the island Levanzo west of Trapani.
Mountain conditions and Alternative Peak
Monte Monaco is, due to the Mediterranean climate, a whole years hike.
Best time is early spring until early summer (February through May) and October/November.
June through September is normally too hot - you would not like hiking with 45 grade centigrade ...
Bathing season starts normally June until late October.
As this hike is not longer than about 3 hours, there is plenty of time to hit the beach or to tackle the bald Pizzo di Sella (704 m), standing south of Monte Monaco:
For this alternative, follow the access road to the uppermost farmhouse and pass it to the south. There will be no trail. Scramble up to the beginning of the north ridge of Pizzo di Sella and follow the ridge closely, it soon gets steeper and rockier and there will be some rock climbing up to the summit (UIAA I). Descent is on the same route.
There is a good guide book with a hike onto Monte Monaco available in both German and English:
Wanderführer Sizilien und Liparische Inseln