Home > Sicilian Crossroads: Cycling the Island of Cultures
They say that good things come in small packages, and that is certainly true for the Italian island of Sicily. On this tour, you will experience the cultural, architectural, and culinary heritage of the island’s southeastern region, cycling through the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine empires...in just eight days!
The stars of the itinerary are the historic towns of the Val di Noto, rebuilt in the Baroque style following a catastrophic earthquake in 1693. Together, they are recognized as a collective UNESCO World Heritage Site for their architectural and artistic achievements. From the ornate scalinata of Caltagirone to the exquisite churches of Ispica, there is no shortage of wonders to admire.
Moderate daily distances along quiet roads will lead you from hilltop town to hilltop town, culminating at the coast and the ancient, noble city of Syracuse. Culinary delights of the region include the chocolate of Modica, traditional cheeses, Nero d’Avola wine, and an array of seafood ranging from anchovies to octopus- all guaranteed to fuel your legs and your spirit.
Your meeting with our local representative isn’t until tomorrow, so enjoy Piazza Armerina, a charming historic town nestled in the heart of Sicily. Let the winding streets lead you past sunbaked buildings, including frescoed churches and grand palazzi from the Baroque and Renaissance. Wherever you wander, you’ll be beckoned by views of the majestic Aragonese Castle and 18th century Baroque cathedral that both dominate the town from their hilltop perch.
After breakfast, a briefing, and a bike fitting with your local representative, it’s time to roll! Even as you cycle out of Piazza Armerina, you will find yourself approaching the incredibly luxurious Villa Romana del Casale, which dates back to the 4th Century. Its collection of rich, astonishingly well-preserved mosaics is truly worth a visit.
Today’s ride is largely downhill, though it is by ascent that you’ll reach your destination of Caltagirone, one of the Baroque towns in the Val di Noto. If you have the energy, we highly recommend climbing the 17th century Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte. Each step shows off the rich ceramic tradition that gives this town its name.
Get ready for some uphills today as you make your way towards Palazzolo Acreide, the oldest town in the Val di Noto. Winding your way through the valley, other historic towns like Vizzini and Grammichele are sure to catch your eye, the latter being laid out in a hexagonal shape! Don’t linger too long though, for there is much to explore at your destination. Between the beautiful Baroque buildings in Palazzolo Acreide and the ancient ruins of nearby Akrai, there is no lack of awe-inspiring (and photo-worthy) sights here.
The rewards for biking through Sicily are plenty on today’s ride, as you cycle along the Hyblaean Plateau, an area characterized by its wooded areas intermingled with typical dry stone walls. Enjoy your route along quiet roads, as well as some nice downhill stretches. The fun continues in Ragusa, where you can spend the rest of the day exploring the upper town (Ragusa Superiore), and the lower, older, part of Ragusa Ibla, which has some stunning Baroque churches and palaces. Wind down with a glass of fine Sicilian red wine and local cuisine like cassateddi cakes and caciocavallo ragusano, a cheese with a very long and treasured tradition.
In the morning, you will continue to follow the white stone walls of the Hyblaean, saying ciao to Ragusa and riding towards other delights. One of these is in the Baroque town of Modica, about 12 km (7.5 miles) into your ride. Here, park your bikes and indulge on the town’s famous chocolate, which is made using an ancient recipe inspired by the Aztecs! Further on, Scicli provides a perfect place to stop for lunch and perhaps appear in the background of a movie (the town is a popular filming site!)
You’ll end your day in Ispica, where you can enjoy an espresso in the covered market and wander to your heart’s content through this beautiful town. From impressive squares lined with palazzi to elegant churches like the splendidly frescoed Santa Maria Maggiore, it is impossible to resist Ispica’s charms.
Today’s itinerary leads you towards the coast, showcasing Sicily’s rural and natural treasures. You’ll reach the sea around the midpoint of your ride, as you pedal into Marzamemi, one of Sicily’s prettiest seaside villages. Its fishing tradition is visible everywhere, from the typical fishermen’s houses that border the main square to local specialities like bottarga (dried tuna roe) and smoked swordfish.
Before you can succumb to the sudden urge to trade in your bike for a fishing boat, you’ll soon be cycling into the unique landscape of lagoons, sand dunes, rocky coastlines, and sandy beaches of the Vendicari Natural Reserve. From here, only 10 km (6 miles) separates you from your destination of Noto...though it is mostly uphill! Overlooking groves of citrus, olive, and almond trees in the Asinaro valley, Noto is home to some of the finest Baroque architecture in Sicily and is known as the “Garden of Stone”.
For the final leg of your Sicilian tour, you’ll be cycling seaside to the historic city of Syracuse (Siracusa in Italian). Notable for its mix of Greek, and Roman culture and architecture, it was also the birthplace of famed mathematician Archimedes (Eureka!). After parking your bikes at your hotel, a short walk across the channel will bring you to Ortigia island and the city’s historical centre. Whet your appetite at the outdoor food market or visit the Fountain of Arethusa and make a wish...that your cycling holiday in Sicily doesn’t have to end!
After breakfast, you are free to depart Syracuse at your leisure. Your accommodation is conveniently located within a 10 minute walk of the train station. If you’re not quite ready to say arrivederci, extra nights can be arranged upon request.
7 nights in guesthouses “of character”
7 nights in 4-star hotels, Deluxe guesthouses and 4-star hotels