Home > Essential Southern Sicily: Catania to Syracuse
On this tour, you’ll discover the region of Southern Sicily, cycling through the hilly Italian countryside. Beginning in Catania and ending in Syracuse, you’ll bicycle through terrain that the Sicani, the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantine Empire, the Normans, and even the Spanish have called home. On this tour, you’ll pedal passed olive groves, baroque palaces, ancient cathedrals, and Sicilian ceramics. Another highlight of this tour is Modica’s fantastic chocolate, and Syracuse’s Greek and Roman ruins!
This challenging tour is for avid cyclists who can comfortably cover 80 km (50 miles) daily.
You'll meet with our local representative tomorrow morning, so take advantage of the day and explore Catania. The Porta Garibaldi arch, the Biscari Palace, the Manganelli Palace, and Ursino Castle are all Catania must-sees. Mt. Etna, a prominent landmark near Catania, is the tallest active volcano in Europe!
You’ll start off the day with a meeting with our local representative, where you’ll receive your bikes and all the information necessary for this tour. As you leave Catania to the south, you’ll pass Ursino Castle and Catania’s monumental cemetery. For much of the day, you’ll be traversing quiet roads in the Sicilian countryside, with views of farmland, parks, and rivers. Around kilometer 64 (mile 40), you’ll pass Oleificio Cappellano, an Olive Oil manufacturer in Mineo. Entering Caltagirone, you’ll pass several ceramics stores. Stop on in, this is what the region is known for- there's even a Regional Ceramics Museum! Other notable Caltagirone attractions are the Basilica di San Giacomo, a Theatrical Puppet Museum, as well as a historic center.
Heading south again, you’ll depart Caltagirone towards Granieri and the nearby Nature Reserve. While not directly on your route, Lake Licodia is close as well. Around kilometer 34 (mile 21), you’ll reach the Fegotto Estate and Gardens. This property’s rich history includes a palmento wine press, an olive oil mill, a dairy, as well as a cellar, barn, stables and even a blacksmith’s forge and a carpenter’s shop. All of these outstanding workshops are still perfectly preserved, complete with their original furnishings and tools. Around kilometer 61(mile 38), you’ll enter Ragusa: one of the most picturesque towns in Sicily. Like Scicli and Ispica (which you’ll visit tomorrow) Ragusa was rebuilt in the 1600s in a Baroque style after an earthquake destroyed the original town. There are multiple palaces, cathedrals, and an archeological museum to visit. You’ll then follow the Irminio River to Upper and Lower Modica which holds treasures of its own such as a Chocolate Museum, the Church of Saint Peter, and the Cathedral of Saint George.
Departing to the south again, you’ll pass Modica Sorda before continuing to Scicli. Here, you can visit the Museum of Ancient Pharmacy, the Church of Saint Teresa, and the Giovanni Marinero Nativity Cave. You’ll ride through quaint countryside until you reach Ispica, your destination. Unwind with some Sicilian food, and the exploration of the Archaeological Caves of San Giovani: a collection of carved homes, churches, and graves. The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Belmonte Palace (now the town hall) are also Ispica must-sees.
You’ll start your day heading east out of Ispica. Just 10 kilometers in (6 miles), you’ll be passing Cantina Elorin, Cantina Cavallo, and Cantina Modica di San Giovannia- all local wineries. Noto is the next town you’ll pedal through, where you can stop and visit Ducezio Palace, Nicolaci Palace, and the Civic Museum which consists of archeological finds, art, and interactive exhibits. In Avola, you might feel like grabbing a hearty lunch and resting at one of their public beaches. Not ready to get wet yet? Don’t worry, Fontane Bianche will be another great spot to hit the beach and you’ll continue riding along the coast until you reach Syracuse. On the northern outskirts of the city, you’ll find the Ear of Dionysus, as well as an ancient Greek theater, Roman ruins, and “Street of Tombs.” Syracuse is also home to the Catacombs of San Giovanni (though the best catacombs in the world are on the other side of the island in Palermo). For a change of scenery, one can look to the Sanctuary of Madonna or the Fountain of Arethusa.
After breakfast, you are free to depart at your leisure. If you're departing by train, Syracuse conveniently has a train station that goes back to Catania and its airport (about 1.5 hours), as well as to mainland towns such as Rome (about a 10-14 hour trip via train).
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