On our adventure across the whole Sicily we'll learn about the epic history of this colorful region. Starting from Palermo we'll cross the Arabic west, then we'll head south immersing ourselves in the Magna Graecia, ending with the triumph of Baroque in the East.
Palermo and its markets
Cathedral of Monreale
Valley of the Temples in Agrigento
|1||Arrival in Palermo||D|
|2||Palermo to Trapani||Cycling 110Km/1800m||B|
|3||Trapani to Selinunte||Cycling 100Km/600m||B|
|4||Selinunte to Agrigento||Cycling 95Km/1200m||B|
|5||Agrigento to Piazza Armerina||Cycling 100Km/1800m||B D|
|6||Piazza Armerina to Ragusa||Cycling 90Km/1500m||B D|
|7||Ragusa to Noto via Modica||Cycling 100Km/1500m||B|
|8||From Noto to Siracusa||Cycling 65Km/750m||B|
|9||Siracusa to Etna||Cycling 36Km/1200m||B|
|10||Zafferana to Taormina||Cycling 80Km/1600m||B D|
Earliest recorded human activity on the Island dates to 12,000 BC. Since then, Sicily has been ruled by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Turks, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, Austrians and finally Italians. Each civilization left its mark, as we can still see today in the architectural facades and in the people features, and we’ll see it in the streets of Palermo, considered the real capital of the whole Mediterranean. After the shuttle from airport, we’ll have time to check out our bikes and try them on a warm up ride, then we’ll have an aperitif with an extensive briefing about the upcoming adventure, followed by our first sumptuous Sicilian dinner.Overnight: Palermo
We leave the traffic of Palermo climbing until the majestic Cathedral of Monreale, probably the best example of Arabic and Norman architecture. A long downhill among limestone canyons we’ll take us by the coast, then gently up again until lunch, a feast of local food with the best views over Castellammare del Golfo village.
An optional extra effort will take us to the beautifully located Erice, a medieval village perched on the top of a hill dominating the whole gulf thanks to its fortified and very well preserved castle. Here we can visit the lovely Signora Maria Grammatico, owner of one of the best pastry shop of whole Sicily, having a deserved dessert and listening to the story of her business that has been written in the poplar "Mandorle Amare" novel. Our ride will take us across the Val d’Erice fields, ending with the northern African perfumes of Trapani.
Our days starts with the peaceful ride among the ancient salt works shaping this coastline, with scenic windmills emerging from the lagoons. Soon we'll leave the salt immersing in the grapes of luscious vineyards, the landmark of Marsala with its famous wine and historical cellars. We’ll visit a local winery, and of course we’ll taste its most important product, the precious (and delightful) Marsala wine. At exotic fisherman village of Mazara del Vallo we’ll make time to visit its Kasbah district, a piece of Arabic world nestled in a Sicilian village, and possibly its small museum hosting the statue of the "Dancing Satire", a delightful art masterpiece coming directly from Magna Grecia. Our day ends at the coast in Selinunte, where we'll visit the majestic Selinunte Temples site.Overnight: Selinunte
Again along the coast, leaving Sciacca and its scenic sea views, conquering the whole glory of this part of Magna Grecia in the Temples Valley of Agrigento. Today we'll have also a taste of a very rural Sicily, while riding on the hills covered by the wonderful orange groves of Ribera, producing the famous tasty oranges. Back on the coast we'll ride by one of the most known landmarks of Sicily, the popular “Scala dei Turchi” (Staircase of the Turks), a rock formation resembling an enormous staircase. Agrigento offers some very good accommodations, some at the town centre perched over the valley, and the most exclusives ones immersed in one of the most spectacular settings in the world, the magnificent "Valle dei Templi".Overnight: Agrigento
That's the hardest stage of the tour, climbing through the dry hills of inner Sicily up to the old village of Piazza Armerina, hosting the amazing Villa Romana del Casale.
We'll experience a very rural Sicily, made out of solitary roads and sun-dried landscapes. Prepare yourself for long yet steady climbs, spaced out by sporadic silent villages, pale yellow clay round hills covered with resilient olive oil groves and emerald green vineyards. Mazzarino stands out with its Cannon shaped Castle dominating the valley, a neat Baroque center and some top class pastry shops, a perfect spot for lunch. The last part of the stage goes across the old sulfur mines well described by Verga, the writer that started the "Verismo" literary movement, vividly describing the hard life of its people. This austere landscape almost strikes with the absolute beauty of the enchanting mosaics of Villa Romana del Casale, one of the best-preserved buildings built by the Romans about 2000 years ago. Piazza Armerina is very scenic too, with its baroque buildings and its cupole emerging from the old houses.
Overnight: Piazza Armerina
As we leave the lush gardens and orchards of Piazza Armerina, we'll be again into the typical landscapes of the inner Sicily, made out of bare hills drawn by fields and dry stone walls. The town of Caltagirone is world known for its refined pottery craftsmanship, sublimated in the wonderful staircase of Santa Maria del Monte. Here you could visit one of its many workshop, creating colorful crafts according to the ancient tradition. Then we'll cross olive groves and vineyards as far as the eye can see, along a rolling route taking us at the footsteps of the Ibleo limestone plateau. We'll ascend through the characteristic white limestone walls, with breathtaking landscapes on the surrounding valley. The stage ends at one of the most magical places in Sicily: Ragusa Ibla, a marvelous city known throughout the world. This place will surprise you with the quality of its cuisine, awarded with three Michelin starred restaurants.Overnight: Ragusa
This stage starts with a new ascent of the Iblei mountains immersed in one of the most beautiful Sicilian countrysides, it looks like riding along a terrace overlooking the valley.
In Modica we’ll discover the ancient chocolate making tradition. We’ll visit the Bonajuto laboratory, one of the oldest chocolate makers of Italy, still using the ancient Aztec technique for their high quality products. This place makes you feeling like inside a tale, with so many chocolates of all shapes and colours. Scicli is an authentic Baroque gem still preserved and alive, described as one of the most fertile places of the Med by the famous Arabic explorer Muhammad al Idrisi back on the 12th century a.c. Then our ride takes us close to the Cava d’Ispica, a complex of grottos used as cemetery since prehistory. Then a long and gradual descent takes us to the perfumed citrus orchards of Noto Valley, preparing us to the last ascent of the day to the flamboyant baroque of Noto. Its Cathedral is one of the best symbols of baroque architecture in the world.
Today we'll conquer the sea bastions on the island of Ortigia, the ancient Greek settlement originating the most powerful Greek colony in the Mediterranean. Ortigia, in just a square kilometre, boasts a number of impressive buildings and monuments, here stands out the wonderful Cathedral of Syracuse (Cathedral of the Nativity of Mary Most Holy). It was a Greek temple dedicated to Athena, then converted in a church by the Normans. Its Doric columns along the walls closing the side aisles are still very evident both inside and outside. An aperitif on the ancient walls, in front of the sunset over the sea, and a dinner in one of the several good restaurants in town, will close the day through south-western Sicily.Overnight: Siracusa
A 1 hr shuttle will take us to the slopes of mount Etna, the highest active Volcano of Europe. Starting from the village of Nicolosi, we’ll climb in this lava brown rock landscape until the first caldera at Rifugio Sapienza. Our way down gives us stunning views over the strait of Messina and the Calabria on Italy mainland.
Our goal is the village of Zafferana Etnea, one of the best preserved villages of the area, miraculously survived to so many eruptions during the centuries.
Our final ride starts crossing the luscious vineyards of Milo and Linguaglossa local grapes, growing in the fertile volcanic landscape. Those wines are now considered some of the best expressions of southern italian wines. We’ll ride across Castiglione di Sicilia, one of the best villages of Italy, truly medieval and not “Touristy”, beautifully perched on a hilltop surrounded by thousand of hectares of vineyards. The last breathtaking downhill is along the Alcantara Canyons, then we’ll touch the Med at the Greek origin village of Giardini Naxos, finally conquering the stunning Taormina. Again, we’ve carefully selected all the properties used in this tour, more romantic than that it’s simply impossible!Overnight: Taormina
Sadly today we leave, but we are sure that we will meet again on the roads of the Mediterranean!Included: Breakfast