Sicily and The Baroque
10 days 9 nights
9 nights Half Board accommodation
from £1,818 per person (sharing a twin/double room)
Guided: minimum 6 people
Custom dates for groups of 6 or more
7 Stages / 1 Rest day
Total distance: 493 km Total climb 6050 mts
average mileage: 70 km/day
average climb: 860 mts/day
Compared to our classic ‘Sicily, the Eastern Cliffs’, this trip rides through the beautiful island with much ease: fewer mountains, more beaches and less moving around. We stay in only three different towns, three consecutive nights each but the trip is just as interesting as each couldn’t be more different from the other. We start on an 18th century fortified farm in the Valle di Noto highlands, then move to an elegant hotel on the lush beach of Marina di Ragusa and finish in an Agriturismo within the orange groves at the foot of the Etna Volcano. We will ride into Sicily’s most celebrated towns and, where it’s too difficult to cycle, like Siracusa or Noto, we will drive for an evening stroll and an unforgettable dinner.
our price Includes:
9 nights Half Board accommodation in Agriturismo and 4 star hotel
Transfers from and to Catania airport
Baggage transfers throughout the tour
Daily maps and cue sheets
Full van support throughout the tour
We meet you at the airport for transfer to Palazzolo Acreide, the ancient Akrai founded by the Greek in 600 BC, a perfect base to discover the UNESCO WHS treasures of the Noto Valley. The area was mostly destroyed by a tremendous earthquake in 1693 after which a feverish competition took place as its rebuilding took place at a rate of speed unknown in our day. The magnificent Baroque style dominated at the time and, 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.
Stage 1: Palazzolo Acreide loop 67 km - tot climb 1000 mts
Most of this stage is an easy ride on quiet back-roads winding through colorful countryside. We loop around the ancient settlement of Noto Antica where mysterious ruins and customs are revealed within the rocky surroundings and endless geometry of its stone dry-walls. We reach Castelluccio, a tiny hamlet with a remarkable abbey and 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 but before turning back to our farmhouse (and its swimming pool!), we stop in town for a well deserved lunch and refreshments. In the evening we drive to Siracusa for dinner and a guided tour of one of the most beautiful and greatest Grecian towns, home to Archimede.
Stage 2: Palazzolo Acreide loop 90 km - 1600 mts
After a few miles of false flat the road will wind through wheat fields giving us many photo opportunities. A 20 km descent leads down to Solarino after which we follow the course of the Anapo river. The first climb of the day is set in a typical Sicilian scenery of dry stone walls and blossoming cactuses. The climb stops at Sortino, in the ancient kingdom of Pantalica. The deep gorges dug by the Anapo river were home to Sicily’s most ancient civilization. Our ride continues on the highlands alternating climbs, descents and great views. We stop for a light lunch in Ferla in order to tackle two more climbs on the way to Palazzolo. In the evening we drive to Noto for dinner. Because of its astonishing Baroque architecture, rich in maniacal detail, this town is known as the Garden of Stone.
Stage 3: Palazzolo Acreide-Marina di Ragusa 82 km - 700 mts
We move south riding mostly downhill for almost 40 km with a couple of switchbacks leading up to Ragusa. Here we take a break in the main square surrounded by beautiful architecture but lunch is not far ahead so will be difficult not to indulge in the delicious ice-cream, pastry and granita (as lustful as its architecture). Another few miles and we reach Modica in all the glory of its pink stone and after lunch we head toward the sea. The road will be slightly downhill as we cross Scicli and touch upon the coast to follow the flat route to reach Marina di Ragusa, the charming beach resort where we spend the next 3 days in a 4 star hotel on the beach. On all three nights we will dine in one of the finest seafood restaurant in town.
Stage 4: Marina di Ragusa loop 77 km - 750 mts
We ride west along the spectacular coastal route all the way to Scoglitti, crossing the marine park of Camarina and then moving inland. A 5 km climb gets us to Donnafugata Castle built in the 17th century in an extravagant Venetian Gothic style. It is famous as the set for “The Leopard”, one of Italian literature’s most important novels made into film by director Luchino Visconti starring Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon. The ballroom scenes are a milestone of Italy’s school of film. Another extravagance of the castle is its garden with a stone maze. We stop for lunch here so if you wish, you can visit the castle (admission is not included in the tour price). After lunch a long descent takes us back to our hotel.
Stage 5: Marina di Ragusa loop 74 km - 350 mts
Today we ride eastward along the coast crossing a few beach resorts, then move a few miles inland to ride amongst the ponds of Pachino, a bird haven. We arrive at Capo Passero, the southernmost tip of Sicily, considered Africa as the latitude is below that of Tunisi. We ride the cape then cycle north for lunch in Marzamemi, an old and well preserved fishermen village. After lunch our drive back to the hotel.
Today we drive to Giarre where we spend the last 3 nights in an Agriturismo immersed in a citrus grove at the foot of the Etna volcano. The ladies that run this Agriturismo will use all of their culinary art to make sure you gain as much weight as possible.
Stage 6: Etna loop 65 km - 1100 mts or 99 km - 2200 mts
The ride follows the coast touching the beaches of Torre Archirafi, Riposto and Fondachello. We begin to climb at Fiumefreddo and cross Piedimonte Etneo and Linguaglossa, the last towns on the north side of the Etna. The road is flanked by lava stone walls with the sea always in sight. The rich volcanic soil, lush with greenery and flowers, make it look like a tropical island. As you ascend, the vegetation keeps changing: citrus groves and vineyards make way to hazelnut and chestnut groves and more, cycling beneath the shade of on old forest. The summit for the easier course is at 850 mts and from here a breathtaking descent leads us through Milo to Zafferana Etnea where we have lunch. In Zafferana we have the option to challenge the mighty volcano: a 17 km climb (as beautiful as is tough) taking us up to Rifugio Sapienza. After the ride we drive to the beach for a reinvigorating swim.
Stage 7: Giarre-Castelmola 38 km - total climb 550 mts
Today we begin along the Ionian coast to the beach resort of Giardini Naxos, the most ancient Grecian settlement in Sicily. From here we start the 8km climb crossing Taormina to the hamlet of Castelmola, perched high upon a rock. Here we can toast to the end of our fatigue enjoying lunch with a view of Taormina, its villas, the Greek Theatre, the deep blue sea and the smoking volcano. After lunch we drive to Taormina for a shopping stroll then back to our Agriturismo where our hosts will be already be preparing an unforgettable farewell dinner.
Today we transfer you to Catania airport for your journey back home.
Lunches and beverages
Single room supplement of £227
Transfers from and to airport other than Catania
Bike hire: from £180 (includes cycle computer, repair kit, pump, lock)
Gratuities and items of a personal nature
Bicycle case storage
For groups of 6 or more:
All our cycling itineraries can be customized to your specific tastes and requirements.