Sicily is roughly shaped like a triangle, earning it the name Trinacria. The Romans called the island Trinacrium, meaning “star with three points.” Sicily’s distinctive landscape boasts Mount Etna, the largest and highest active volcano in Europe, and shores that touch three seas: the Mediterranean, Ionian and Tyrrhenian.
Its strategic location has made it a territory in dispute for millennia. Among those who have inhabited Sicily are the Sicels, Sicani, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, Aragonese and Bourbons before the Savoy and the kingdom of Italy.
These past dominations left distinctive marks on the island still visible today in its people’s features, the local architecture, culture and cuisine. Sicilian foods and recipes represent for sure one of the quintessential expressions of the Mediterranean diet, now listed as a UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage, specifically in its Italian, Spanish, Greek and Moroccan expressions.
To savor a meal in Sicily is to encounter an extraordinarily rich collection of culinary traditions. UNESCO defines them well where it describes protecting the Mediterranean diet as “a set of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table, including the crops, harvesting, fishing, conservation, processing, preparation and, particularly, consumption of food.” Among the most typical and unique of Sicilian dishes are: granita (crushed ice flavored with juice from local fruits or nuts), arancini (fried rice balls traditionally filled with meat and tomato sauce or mozzarella and ham), caponata (sweet and sour cold salad of eggplant, celery, bell pepper, capers, olives, and tomato sauce) and cannoli (pastries filled with ricotta). You will enjoy washing them down with one of Sicily’s wonderful indigenous wines: Frappato, Nero d’Avola, Malvasia and Carricante.
Beyond being a great culinary destination, Sicily is also exquisite for sightseeing given its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among them the late Baroque towns of Modica, Noto, Siracusa and Ragusa, and the volcano Etna that we visit.
Other highlights include: visits and tastings to olive oil and wine makers, to local Slow Food Presidia (worldwide initiatives to support quality production methods that are at risk of extinction) such the Ragusano Dop cheese from Modicana cow, and Magghia Masculina (anchovies caught with a traditional fishing method), and visits to local agriturismi (usually, family-run “farm stays” combining agriculture and tourism). Typically, an agriturismo features room and board in a farmhouse, which has been either partially or totally transformed to provide accommodation and meals.
In addition to all of this, on our “Cycling Tour in Sicily” departure, we enjoy exhilarating rides along the coast, on the slopes of Etna, and inland, surrounded by olive, almond, and carob trees.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Given internal distances of over 250 miles, our tour centers on the eastern and central parts of the island (and look forward to featuring Palermo and the west side of the island in a future itinerary). If you have more time, join us on a post-tour extension to the UNESCO site of the Aeolian Islands, or to visit Sicilian Temples, Villas and Olive Oil in Sicily.
Benvenuti (welcome in Italian) in the heart of the Mediterranean! What are you waiting for? Ti aspettiamo! (We are waiting for you!) A presto! (See you soon!)
CYCLING TOUR IN SICILY
TOUR DATES AND PRICES
Minimum of 8 participants, maximum of 14, with a maximum guide-to-guest ratio of 1 to 8
DATES (7 days)
April 26-May 2, 2020 | May 17-23, 2020 | October 25-31, 2020
For more info, other dates and availability please contact us.
Per person in double occupancy: from $3,890 to $4,290
(this tour will feature 4-star hotels and Alberghi Diffusi. Tour price will vary depending on group size)
Single Supplement: $690
In addition, we pledge to donate more than 1% of your trip price to food literacy and environmental non profit organizations
- Discover the UNESCO sites of Baroque towns of Noto, Siracusa and Ragusa and the volcano Etna
- Tastings of regional Slow Food Presidia and visits to local wine, olive oil, chocolate, and cheese makers
- Experience the authentic Mediterranean Diet through local traditional cuisine featuring fresh and seasonal ingredients and learn more about local recipes
- Enjoy some of the best reds of Italy, Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese grapes, two indigenous varieties of the Etna volcano area
- Relax in unique, elegant 4- and 5-star hotels, masserie and alberghi diffusi distinctively representing the local cultures and traditions
- Delve into history, traditions and culture in this unique area of south of Italy
- Exhilarating rides in the tranquil countryside inland, at times surrounded by century-old olive oil trees or a natural reserve by the sea
Explore by bicycle the Baroque towns and UNESCO sites of Noto, Modica, Siracusa and Ragusa and the volcano Etna. Visit with local wine, olive oil, and cheese makers and taste their crafts. Overnight in elegant hotels, masserie (old fortified farms) and alberghi diffusi (dispersed hotels). Indulge in the rich variety that is the local cuisine. Meet inspiring Sicilians for a full immersion in the heart of the Mediterranean.
Come with us to discover this beautiful region: buon appetito and buon viaggio!
If you prefer to arrive the day before please let us know and we will help you organize your pre night at the same hotel used on tour, and early transfer from Catania Fontanarossa airport at additional price. This is recommended just to allow you more time to settle in and get ready for the tour.
Cycling Route Info on day 1: Main Route: 15mi/1000ft of elevation gain | Extra loop adds: 7mi/800ft or more!
Cycling Route Info on day 2: Main Route 38mi/3450ft | Extra loop adds: 11mi/700ft or more!
Fly to Catania Fontanarossa Airport and join us for a 1.5-hrs group transfer to our accommodation for the next two nights in an albergo diffuso or “dispersed hotel”. The term references the determination to rescue semi-deserted towns by constructed new hotels in a manner that scatters the services across existent, historic buildings. In other words, rather than tear everything down in order to construct a single typical new hotel, the developer renovates the old structures, and places various hotel services within them. For example, guest rooms might be across the way from the breakfast room, which is a few doors down from the concierge.
Rides here include a warm-up to the sea to stretch our legs, take in the salty, restorative air, and enjoy a gelato in cheerful seaside Donnalucata, and
a full-day ride to Ragusa Ibla, making the exhilarating climb to the top of the Monti Iblei plateau on the way. In Ragusa, we enjoy its Baroque architecture, best displayed in Ibla, as the historic section of town is called. From Ibla, we ride on to Modica to visit the oldest pastry shop of Sicily and a heritage chocolate maker. The artisans show us how chocolate is made following an ancient Aztec recipe, originally carried here by the Spanish Aragonese.
Later, we transfer to Donnalucata to visit a cheesemaker and enjoy dinner in a restaurant owned by the chef featured in our “hands and faces of Italy” video.
Cycling Route Info on day 3: Main Route: 38mi/2000ft | Extra loop adds: 11mi/400ft or more!
Cycling Route Info on day 4: Main Route: 40mi/1720ft | Extra loop adds: 6mi/150ft or more!
Our third day sees us out of Scicli riding east toward Noto. We make our first stop in Ispica to visit its fascinating prehistoric cave dating to Neolithic times. The hollows studding the walls of this gorge occurred naturally before humans modified and adapted them into dwellings, small sanctuaries, and necropolises. From Ispica, we pedal on to Lido di Noto for lunch by the beach.
Our base for the next two nights is a masseria (historic fortified Sicilian farmhouse) located a bit out of Lido di Noto, close to the pristine and picturesque Vendicari Natural Reserve. While in the area, we enjoy a walk through the preserve with a local guide who shows us to the magnificent sea views and best birdwatching.
Exhilarating rides over these days include a loop south to Portopalo di Capo Passero, the southernmost commune of Sicily (and thus in all of Italy), and a ride to the seaside village of Marzamemi. This area is also famous for cherry tomatoes called Pomodori di Pachino, named for a nearby town.
Off the bike, we visit a local winery centered on the distinctive red grape Nero d’Avola and white grapes Moscato and Grecanico. In charming Noto, we stroll through the historic center. After dinner, let’s be sure to stop in at the historic Caffé Sicilia, considered by many to be the best gelateria in Sicily (some say the world). Like their parents and grandparents before them, the current owners expertly handle local nuts and citrus. In terms of gelato flavors, consider trying the Montezuma. The New York Times called it “a heady mix of chocolate, cinnamon and orange-and lemon-candy peel”. Or perhaps a granite, which the Times called “the real star” of the show.
Cycling Route Info on day 5: Main Route: 37mi/2650ft | Extra loop adds: 10mi/120ft or more!
Cycling Route Info on day 6: Main Route: 30mi/2750ft | Extra loop adds: 5mi/450ft or more!
On our fifth day, we set out from Noto on a spectacular ride that leaves the coast and bends inland to afford us a scenic climb along the Cavagrande (Grand Canyon of Sicily) on the Cassibile River. From the top, we admire the views before continuing on to an agriturismo for lunch. Here, we meet the owner and enjoy an olive-oil tasting and walk in the garden to learn about carob, olive, and pomegranate trees and the local wheat production.
Our destination is Siracusa Ortigia. Like Ragusa, Siracusa is a UNESCO site with an additional name for its historic district. Siracusa’s is called Ortigia, and this is where we stay tonight. Siracusa boasts a beautiful situation right along the sea and more stunning Baroque architecture and piazze (town squares). We have the chance to explore its incredible preserved history among the Roman remnants at the local archeological park and the largest Greek theater of Sicily.
Our final morning, we transfer to the north side of Mount Etna for a scenic ride in the Alcàntara Valley. The landscape was formed by waters running off Mount Etna and the southern peaks of the Nebrodi Mountains. The name is Arabic in origin: al qantara meaning “the bridge” and here it references a Roman river-crossing discovered by the Arabs. We lunch in Castiglione di Sicilia, a village boasting the superlative designation of Borghi più belli d’Italia, an association celebrating the most beautiful and historically significant villages in Italy.
Back at our hotel on the slopes of Etna, those who wish can take in a final extra loop. We close our journey over a celebratory dinner feast of abundant Sicilian flavors and share memories of our time together. Buon viaggio (“Safe travels” in Italian) and see you soon!
After breakfast catch our 1-hour group transfer to Catania airport. If you have more time consider to extend your stay in the area. Buon viaggio (“Safe travels” in Italian) and see you soon!
- 6 nights of accommodation in 4- and 5-star hotels, masserie and alberghi diffusi
- 6 breakfasts and 3 lunches
- 5 dinners with either a 3- or 4-course menu
- Exploration of Scicli, Ragusa Ibla, Siracusa Ortigia, Modica, Noto and other quaint Sicilian villages
- 1 visit and tasting to an agriturismo and olive oil producer
- Exhilarating rides in eastern Sicily in the provinces of Ragusa and Siracusa and on the nothern side of Volcano Etna
- 1 cooking demo at a restaurant and 1 visit to Ispica cave dwellings
- 1 wine tasting and visit to a local winemaker
- 1 visit and tasting with a cheese maker
- Bike rental (see more info here) and Garmin Touring Edge unit (if you have one, bring yours and we’ll upload the routes onto your unit)
- Comfortable transportation and assistance by 9-seat van for all travel on tour as cited in the itinerary
- Refreshments, snacks, fruits and other local delicacies during our rides
- 2 bilingual, professional Tour Leaders
- Group transfers from/to Catania Fontanarossa airport
- Local taxes and gratuities for luggage porters and restaurant servers during tour
- 3 lunches and 1 dinner on your own
- Alcoholic beverages at group dinners (including wine and spirits)
- Round-trip airfare and expenses to/from the tour
- Trip cancellation, baggage loss or travel delay insurance (this optional coverage is highly recommended and is not provided by Food.Stories.Travel.)
- Gratuities for your Tour Leader
Cristiano Bonino has led tours for North Americans all over Italy for more than thirteen years. Currently, he resides in the Boston area with his American wife. Cristiano likes to say that he has been “hybridizing” over the past three years in the U.S. He mixes the best of the both American and Italian cultures, which he loves, but never forgets his native roots in Turin.
Davide Marchegiano has designed and led tours all over Italy and Europe for the last sixteen years; he loves to teach Italian using games and songs, as well as to bring guests to meet his many friends across his country. Davide was born in Ivrea, in Piedmont and he loves hiking and everything with pedals and wheels: he’s been riding and racing bikes for 30 years.
Your itinerary has been meticulously hand-designed by Food.Stories.Travel and its team. We created your adventure around some of our favorite flavors and unforgettable past experiences. Every establishment you visit has been personally vetted, tested and enjoyed.