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here is a glimpse of a bike tour of sicily:
- Meet at the group's first night farmhouse accommodation in Sortino.
Meet at our delightful first night agriturismo base close to the small town of Sortino. Sitting at around 450 metres above sea-level in the Hyblaean Hills, Sortino is mainly an agricultural centre, producing olives, cereals and citrus fruits, as well as livestock farming. You'll get your first taste of the Baroque here, as there are a number of important Baroque buildings in the town which has a population of around 8500. From this slightly elevated location Mount Etna is clearly visible to the north. A single transfer from Catania Airport will be provided in the early afternoon. In the late afternoon, there will be a first meeting and briefing with the guide who will accompany you throughout the week. The guide will also help with bike fitting, before dinner and overnight at the accommodation.
- Cycle through the Pantalica Reserve and the village of Palazzolo Acreide to Giarratana.
After a farmhouse breakfast, we will cycle straight from our accommodation into the nearby Pantalica Reserve. Following a fairly smooth white gravel road, we will wind our way into this very impressive limestone landscape through a canyon carved by the crystal clear Anapo River. Rich vegetation, including holm oaks and oleander, cloaks the valley sides and there are river pools where we can stop for a swim. The reserve was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, but it is perhaps most well known for a large necropolis comprising several thousand burial chambers cut into the limestone cliffs and dating back to 1300 BC. This site has an earlier UNESCO listing and we will have the chance to check it out. Leaving the reserve, we will loop around towards the south, to the village of Palazzolo Acreide, where we can stop for a coffee and a snack in the pretty central square. It's just a short ride from here to our farmhouse accommodation close to Giarratana. Dinner and overnight at the accommodation.
- TIME4 to 5 hrs cycling
- A ride on ancient pilgrim paths via several villages to the heart of Sicilian Baroque at Ragusa.
Today's ride will take us further south towards the tip of the island and still within the Hyblaean Hills (Monti Iblei in Italian). We'll be following in part ancient paths once used by monks and pilgrims to reach the convents scattered throughout the region. Again, mostly on gravel roads with scarcely any vehicles, we will ride through fields of wheat and olive groves and by way of abandoned mills. We will cycle through the picturesque villages of Monterosso Almo and Chiaramonte Gulfi to arrive at the very heart of Sicilian Baroque: Ragusa, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002 and famous for a wealth of outstanding architecture. Like many of the towns in this part of Sicily, Ragusa was largely rebuilt following the catastrophic earthquake of 1693. We will find a place to sit and do some people-watching and to admire something of Ragusa's splendour, before continuing on minor roads to Modica. Another Sicilian gem, Modica nestles amongst the craggy hills of the 'Iblei' and is famous, among other things, for culinary delights including chocolate which is sold throughout Italy.
- TIME5 hrs cycling
- Cycle to Italy's southernmost point at Portopalo di Capo Passero.
Heading towards the south-west, we leave the hills behind, cycling on minor roads between drystone walls with olive, carob, almond and citrus trees dotted across the landscape. Our first destination is Portopalo di Capo Passero, a fishing village at the southernmost tip of the island (and of Italy) between the waters of the Mediterranean to the south and west and those of the Ionan Sea to the east. The island of Malta is just 70 kilometres away to the south. Continuing our ride to Marzamemi, we will stop in the picturesque square of Regina Margherita (part of an old tuna fishery) where we can sample locally caught fish delicacies. After lunch we will visit and cycle through the reserve of Vendicari where there are some of the most beautiful 'wild beaches' of Sicily, before continuing to our accommodation in Noto. Another icon of Sicilian Baroque, Noto was entirely rebuilt by the most famous architects of the day following the 1693 earthquake.
- TIME5 to 6 hrs cycling
- A coastal ride beside the Ionian Sea to Syracuse. Transfer to Nicolosi beneath Mount Etna.
On this last day of cycling, we'll discover the sun-kissed coastline of the Ionian Sea, following paths and tracks beside a succession of beautiful beaches. We will have no excuse not to stop off for a dip wherever the fancy takes us and we'll also be on the look out for coffee and ice-cream stops in one or two of the places we pass through. We reach the end of the ride on the outskirts of one of the most important Sicilan cities of the Greek period: Syracuse. Here, we meet up with our transport and transfer in under an hour to our accommodation in Nicolosi, a settlement on the northern outskirts of Catania below Mount Etna.
- TIME4 hrs cycling
- A hiking excursion to the crater rim on the active volcano, Mount Etna.
In a suitably dramatic finale to our time on Sicily, we will today tackle Mount Etna, but not on our bikes. After breakfast, a transfer by bus will take us to the Rifugio Sapienza (1900m), from where we will continue our ascent of the mountain by cable-car and 4WD minibuses as far as 2900 metres. From here, having been provided with a safety helmet, it's about an hour and a half's walk up to the Bocca Nuova Crater and the Central Crater where we can feel the 'breath' of Etna and enjoy a 360 degree view that sweeps from the Aeolian Islands and the Gulf of Taormina to the Bay of Catania. From the top we will descend on foot through the majestic Valle del Bove and finally take a private transfer to our hotel accommodation in Catania. We will celebrate the completion of the week with a farewell dinner (included) and overnight in the hotel.
- TIME5 hrs walking
- Departure from Catania.
Depending on your departure time you may wish to have a final stroll through Catania. Your tour leader can assist with a taxi transfer or advise you on the regular public bus service to the airport. Catania is a fascinating city and a great place to explore over a few days.