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Italy Bike Tours: Sicilia Bike Tour MapItaly Bike Tour:
Sicilia, the Sea and the Baroque

Difficulty: 2 Difficulty Rating for Italy Bike Tour to 3 easy sicily biketour rating

Compared to our classic Tour of Eastern Sicilia this biketour proposes an easier approach to this bountyful Island: less mountains and more beaches. And less moving around too. We stay in 3 different towns for 3 consecutive nights each. And, to make your trip more interesting, each location differs a lot from the others. We start with a 18th century fortified farm on the highlands of Valle di Noto then move to an elegant new hotel on the lush beach of Marina di Ragusa and end in an Agriturismo hidden in the orange groves at the foot of the Etna Volcano. You will ride into quite a few of the most celebrated Sicilian towns. And where it’s too difficult to go by bike, like Siracusa or Noto, we will drive you there for an evening stroll and an unforgettable dinner.


PROGRAM


Sicily biketour mapDay 1 - Arrival Catania Airport – van transfer to Palazzolo Acreide (1 hr)
Palazzolo Acreide (elev 680mts), the ancient Akrai founded by the Greek in 600 BC, is a perfect base camp for riding to the discovery of the treasures of the Noto Valley (Unesco Heritage). This area was mostly destroyed by the tremendous earthquake of 1693. A feverish competition started among the gents as they start to rebuild, with a speed unknown in our days, their towns. The Baroque style dominating those days was a perfect medium to translate dreams: in less than 10 years new astonishing towns were erected. Palazzolo itself displays valuable examples of Baroque architecture as you will discover when we drive uptown for dinner.

Italy Bike Tours: Sicily, the sea and the baroque

Day 2 – 1st stage: Palazzolo Acreide loop 67k – tot climb 1000 mts
Most of the first ride is an easy spin on the quiet backroads departing from our farm inn and winding through a colorful countryside. We loop around the ancient settlement of Noto Antica whose mysterious ruins are perfectly engraved in the rocky surroundings and the endless theory of stone dry walls. Next we reach Castelluccio, a minuscule hamlet with a remarkable abbey. From here we start a technical descent with great views. After a few flat miles in the orange groves we tackle the 7 km climb to Palazzolo. Before turning our wheels towards the farm inn (and its swimming pool!) we stop in town for a well deserved lunch and refreshments. In the evening we drive you to Siracusa for dinner and for a guided tour of this town that was one of greatest Grecian town, home to Archimede and able to challenge Athens, Roma and Carthage in its time.

Italy bike tours: Sicilia, the sea and the baroque

Day 3 – 2nd stage: Palazzolo Acreide loop 90k – 1600 mts
A few miles of false flat to start: the road winds through wheat fields giving you many photo opts. A 20 km descent leads down to Solarino. We cross town and start following the course of the Anapo river. The first climb of the day is set in a typical Sicilian scenario of dry stone walls and blossoming cactuses. The climb tops at Sortino. We are now in the ancient kingdom of Pantalica. The deep gorges dug by the Anapo river where home to Sicilia’s most ancient civilization. Our ride continues on the highlands alternating climbs, descents and great views. We stop for lunch in Ferla: this has to be light as another couple of climbs waits us on the way to Palazzolo! In the evening we drive you to Noto for dinner. For its astonishing Baroque architecture rich of maniacal detail this town is named the Garden of Stone.

Italy bike tours: Sicily, the sea and the baroque

Day 4 – 3rd stage: Palazzolo Acreide – Marina di Ragusa 82k – 700mts
We move South riding mostly downhill for almost 40k then a couple of switchbacks leading up into Ragusa. We sit for a break in the main square surrounded by the beautiful architecture of this town. It’s hard not to indulge with the delicious ice-cream, pastry and granita (which display the same lust of the architecture) as lunch is not far away: another few miles and we see Modica in all of its pink-stone splendor. After lunch we head towards the sea. Now the road is always slightly downhill. We cross Scicli and touch the coast at the marine village of Donnalucata. On the flat coastal route we reach Marina di Ragusa, the charming beach resort where we spend the next 3 days. Our 4 star hotel is right on the beach. This evening, and on the next two, we dine in one of the finest seafood restaurant in town.

Italy bike tours: Sicilia, the sea and the baroque

Day 5 - 4th stage: Marina di Ragusa loop 77k - 750mts
We ride west along the spectacular coastal route all the way to Scoglitti. We cross the marine park of Camarina and then we move inland. A 5k climb gets us to Donnafugata castle. Built in the 17th century in an extravagant Venetian Gothic style this castle is famous for being the set of “Il Gattopardo” (The Leopard), one of the main novels of Italian literature. From this book director Luchino Visconti made a movie starring Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon. The ballroom scenes shot at the castle are a milestone of Italy’s movie school. Another extravagance of the castle is its garden which also displays a stone maze. We stop for lunch here so, if you want, you can visit the castle (tickets are not included in tour price). After lunch a long descent takes us back to the sea.

Italy bike tours: Sicilia, the sea and the baroque

Day 6 – 5th stage: Marina di Ragusa loop 74k – 350mts
Today we ride east all along the coast. We cross a few beach resorts: Donnalucata, Sampieri, Pozzallo. We move inland just a few miles to ride among the ponds of Pachino, a bird haven. This way we arrive at Portopalo, a fishermen harbor sitting between two seas. We are now at Capo Passero (Cape Sparrow) the southernmost tip of Sicilia. A piece of Africa as for latitude we are below Tunisi. We round the cape and ride north to Marzameni, a well preserved old fishermen village where we have lunch. After lunch our van takes you back to the hotel.

Bike Tours in Italy: Cycling Etna volcanoDay 7 – rest day, van transfer to Giarre (2 hrs)
On the rest day we drive to Giarre. Here you spend the last days of the tour in an Agriturismo immersed in the cytrus grove at the foot of the Etna volcano (3300 mts) and only a few miles from the beaches. Be advised: the ladies running this Agriturismo will use all of their culinary art to make you  gain weight!

Italy bike tours: Sicilia, Etna volcano

Day 8 - Etna loop 65k –1100mts or 99k –2200 mts
The ride starts on the coastal route that touches the beaches of Torre Archirafi, Riposto and Fondachello. At Fiumefreddo we start climbing. We cross Piedimonte Etneo and Linguaglossa, the last towns on the north side of the Etna. The road is flanked by lava stone walls. The sea always in sight and the rich volcanic soil lush with green and flowers make it look like a tropical island. As you go up the vegetation keeps changing: cytrus grove and vineyard leave room to hazelnut and chestnut, and more above you ride under the shade of on old forest. The summit for the easier course is at 850mts from here a breathtaking descent leads you down through Milo and to Zafferana Etnea where we stop for lunch. In Zafferana you have the option to challenge the mighty volcano: a 17 km climb (as beautiful as it is tough!) takes up to the 1900 mts of Rifugio Sapienza. After the ride we drive to the beach for a well deserved restoring swim.

Italy bike tours: Giardini di Naxos

Day 9 - Giarre–Castelmola 38k – tot climb 550 mts
We start again along the Ionian coast all the way north to the charming beach resort of Giardini Naxos, the most ancient Grecian settlement in Sicilia. From here we start the 8 km climb that, crossing Taormina, takes up to the hamlet of Castelmola (530 mts), perched on an high rock. Here we can toast to the end of our fatigues! We eat lunch delighted by the view: Taormina, its villas and the Greek Theatre, the deep blue sea and the smoking volcano. After lunch we drive you to Taormina for a shopping stroll. And then back to our Agriturismo where the ladies will be already at work to an unforgettable farewell dinner!

Day 10 – Van transfer to Catania Airport (45 min) - Departure