Sicily, the Eastern Cliffs

Cycling Level (short route)

Difficulty: short route
 

Cycling Level (long route)

Difficulty: long route
 

10 days 9 nights

9 nights Half Board accommodation
from £1,818 per person (sharing a twin/double room)

Contact

If you wish to enquire about this tour please contact us on +44(0)7936 458564 email enquiries@vyvigo.co.uk

Guided: minimum 6 people

1 - 10 June 2019

or

Custom dates for groups of 6 or more

8 Stages
 Total distance short route: 682 km Total climb 11200 mts
average mileage: 85 km/day
average climb: 1400 mts/day

Total distance long route: 761 km Total climb 14400 mts
average mileage: 95 km/day
average climb: 1800 mts/day

The largest island located in the centre of the Mediterranean is Sicily, for centuries the crossroads of civilizations. On this cycling tour we will ride twisted and quiet roads amongst olive trees, wild flowers, wheat fields and forests along its coasts, hills and rugged mountains. We will also cross some of the Island's most amazing towns and sit at the piazza cafes with hard choices to make in front of mouthwatering local gelato, granita and pastry. At dinner we will savour the art of the regional cuisine, sipping Nero d'Avola and other superior local wines. For most of the tour we cycle in the shade of the mighty Etna, the highest volcano in Europe whilst on the last day we turn our wheels up the smoking mountain to crown a tour we will never forget. 

our price Includes:

  • 9 nights Half Board accommodation in Agriturismo and 3 star hotel

  • Transfers from and to Catania airport

  • Baggage transfers throughout the tour

  • On-call assistance

  • Daily maps and cue sheets

  • Cycling guide

  • Full van support throughout the tour

The itinerary

Day 1:
Arrival Catania
We meet you at Catania airport for transfer to Palazzolo Acreide, a perfect base to discover the Unesco WHS treasures of Southeastern Sicily. 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 speed unknown in our day. The magnificent Baroque style dominated at the time and, in less than 10 years, new astonishing towns were erected.

Day 2:
Stage 1: Palazzolo (loop) 85 km - 1300 mts total climb
Today we cycle southbound with ease, stopping to marvel at the beauty of Ragusa and Modica. Try not to indulge in the pastries (as lustful as is the city’s architecture) because a tough ride home awaits us. The road unwinds in the wild scenery of Monti Iblei and for many km the ancient stone dry walls are the only sign of human passage. To complete the day we drive to Noto for more treats for the senses. 

Day 3:
Stage 2: Palazzolo (loop) 100 km - 1500 mts
Today starts gently with a long descent to Solarino where we begin the first of many climbs stopping in Sortino for a coffee break. We then ride through the Pantalica area, home of the most ancient Sicilian civilization (1500BC). The rugged hills are riddled with natural cavities that were once used as tombs. We stop for lunch in Ferla followed by a couple of gentle hills leading to Buscemi and finally to Palazzolo. For dinner we drive to Siracusa to visit one of the greatest and most beautiful Grecian towns, home to Archimede. 

Day 4:
Stage 3: Palazzolo - Piazza Armerina 86 km - 1400 mts
Today we leave Palazzolo and ride north on a constant roll and crossing agricultural land rich in vineyards, olive and prickly pear trees. For lunch we stop in Caltagirone, another gorgeous Baroque town with remarkable local ceramics. We resume our ride across the Monti Erei and reach Piazza Armerina where, before dinner, we visit Villa Romana del Casale. Its vast mosaic floorings are superb witnesses of the Roman era.

Day 5:
Stage 4: Piazza Armerina - Petralia 88 km – 1800 mts
We leave Piazza Armerina to continue our ride northbound in the innermost part of Sicily. After an easy start we have two short but tough climbs. The first leads to Enna then, as we start descending, we catch sight of the top of our second ride, Calascibetta, built by the Arabs in 851 AD and where we break for refreshments. The peaceful landscape of Central Sicily looms ahead and for the next 40 km we ride on twisted back-roads in a vast, open space of hills covered in wheat fields. As we enter Parco delle Madonie we resume the climb to reach Petralia Soprana perched on a high rock where the superb and completely new view embraces most of the Tirrenean coast. After a well deserved gelato we descend to Petralia Sottana, our home for the next two days.

Day 6:
Stage 5: Petralia (loop) Long route: 125 km - 2500 mts Short route: 62 km - 400 mts
The first half of this ride is very easy and entirely set in the Parco delle Madonie. We reach Geraci and start a 30 km descent that leads all the way down to the Tirrenean Coast along which we ride until we reach Cefalù, one of the film locations for ‘Nuovo Cinema Paradiso’ by Giuseppe Tornatore. We visit this ancient mariner village and either end the ride here, possibly with a swim, or embark on a 40 km climb in the forests of Le Madonie. Once Piano Battaglia is reached, you may feel even more rewarded as every bend reveals a new view, including that of the bare peaks of Le Madonie, making it a ride to remember.

Day 7:
Stage 6: Petralia - Randazzo 121 km - 1700 mts
Today we take a long ride eastbound to the ridge dividing the Tirrenean from the Ionian side. It’s pretty much a highland so we never ride below 600 mts, reaching the highest point of 1000 mts in the Parco dei Nebrodi. We cross only a few towns and much rich agricultural land. All along, the smoking Etna is constantly at the horizon and we end our ride at its foothills in the charm of Randazzo. Our host here is a fine wine producer who will be more than happy to let us sample his work.

Day 8:
Stage 7: Randazzo - Taormina 62 km - 1300 mts
Today we leave Randazzo riding through the vineyards along the Alcantara river. After passing the village of Mojo there is an optional detour of about 20 km that will take us up the hairpins and breathtaking views of Portella Mandrazzi, the highest pass in the Peloritani Monti. The route includes a winding descent to Francavilla di Sicilia where the two routes meet. We wind along the Alcantara Gorges and reach the Ionian coast at Naxos, home of the first Grecian settlement in Sicily. Only a few more kms and we are in the splendid setting of Taormina. We climb the exclusive promenade of Sicily’s most important resort town, stopping only when the road ends at Castelmola. The view is astonishing: Taormina, with its villas and Greek Theatre, lies beneath us in a scenery of rocks, lusty vegetation, the deep blue sea and, of course, the smoking volcano. We take a shopping stroll in Taormina and then reach our Agriturismo in Giarre by van. Immersed in a citrus grove, this family run inn will be ready to delight us with some of the best Sicilian cuisine. 

Day 9:
Stage 8: Giarre - Etna Long route: 94 km - 2900 mts Short route: 78 km - 1800 mts Throughout our trip the mighty Etna has been an intimidating presence and we can now prove how ours was respect and not fear. There are two options: either to climb the north and the south sides, or the south side alone. We cycle together for the first 30 km and at Linguaglossa the short course cuts along the side of the volcano to easily reach Zafferana Etnea. The other route is a tough incline with ever changing surroundings: orange and lemon trees soon give away to a shady forest. Higher up there are only a few birches that stand in a sea of black lava dotted by colorful flowers. We reach our first summit and hold our breath for the exciting descent down to Zafferana Etnea. Our speed reduces dramatically as we turn upward again for more marvels along the long climb to Rifugio Sapienza and the Etna lower craters. Once at the top we can finally toast the end of our fatigues. A 20 km descent rockets us down to Nicolosi where we meet and, after an adequate refreshment, we reach our Agriturismo where we a memorable farewell dinner is prepared for us. 

Day 10:
Today we transfer you to Catania airport for your journey back home. 

 Extras

  • Flights

  • 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.