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SICILY AN INFINITE  ISLAND

A sunny cycle holiday in the southeast of Sicily

Sicily is an infinite island: mythical and very real, sunny and magnificent, rich in nuances and particularities. Its land has been inhabited over the centuries by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans and each of these civilisations has left its signs in the culture, traditions and art. Touring the island by bike you come across Greek temples, Roman mosaics, Arab constructions and Norman buildings which coexist in perfect harmony and give this land an unquestionable uniqueness.

The most striking thing about Sicily is its unspoilt nature and its unusual and varied landscapes. Along the enchanting coasts you can find everything from rocky cliffs to great flat expanses of sandy beach. In the stony bays the ochre, grey and black of the pebbles remind us of their volcanic origin, while these tranquil bays are framed by the typical Mediterranean vegetation and brushed by the crystal clear waters of the sea. Inland the almost primitive landscape has been modelled by a combination of earth, water and fire; this is a very striking and evocative rural environment tinged with bright yellow and green.

Sicily is also a land rich with culinary traditions, and the food and wine reflect the numerous contacts between the various civilisations over the centuries. The typical dishes of this region are pasta alla Norma, pesce alla ghiotta, cuscusu (a Trapanese version of the fish-based couscous dish of Arab origin), arancini, and the famous cakes and pastries, of which its crowning glories are cassata, cannoli, almond pastries and crushed-ice drinks. Among the area's wines are the famous Passito di Pantelleria, Malvasia di Lipari and the renowned fortified wine of Marsala.

During this tour you will discover beautiful towns like Caltagirone, famous for its ceramics, Palazzolo Acreide, Modica, Scicli, Ragusa Ibla, the baroque city of Noto, Piazza Armerina, known for the mosaics of the Roman Villa del Casale, and Syracuse, one of the capitals of the Greek colonies of Magna Grecia.

 

 

 

Highlights of this tour  

  • Mosaics of Piazza Armerina

  • The baroque town of Modica, also well known for its chocolate production  

  •  Noto and Scicli, since 2002 on the UNESCO world heritage list

  • The crystal blue see and endless beaches  

  •  Syracuse with its Greek theatre and baroque cathedral  

  • Island of Ortigia  

  • The oases of Vendicari  

  • Isola delle Correnti (island of the sea currents)  

  •  the fishermen's village of Marzamemi  

 

Programme

Day 1 

Caltagirone

Individual arrival at Caltagirone, handing over of the bikes, the road book, maps and all the information you need to make a success of this tour.Caltagirone is famous for its ceramics made of the excellent quality clay of the area. After the 17th century earthquake Caltagirone is reconstructed in the Baroque style from which you see nice examples in the old town centre.Famous is the Scalinata (stairs) of Santa Maria del Monte tile with hand painted mosaics. Worthwhile is also to visit the museum of ceramics.

 

Day 2 

Circular route (95 km / 59 miles)

You leave Caltagirone and cycle along quiet country roads to Piazza Armerina. Here you could make a stop to visit the famous roman mosaics of the roman Villa del Casale. This Roman Villa of the 4th century AD was discovered in 1950 and is a unique example of a roman country estate decorated with multi-coloured mosaics (3500 square metres). Beautiful are the hunting and circus scenes. You return to Caltagirone for another overnight stay.

 

Day 3   

Caltagirone –Palazzo Acreide (85 km / 53 miles)

The route of today is various and interesting both from historical as naturalistic point of view. The first stop is at Vizzini, a small town with architectural and artistic interesting monuments. There are many churches, but be sure to also see the other monuments such as the town hall and the tanneries... From Vizzini you continue cycling towards the plateau with its deep canyons, called "caves". One of the most interesting canyons is the Valle dell’Anapo, which is surrounded by the villages Ferla, Cassaro and Palazzolo Acreide. This stage is characterized by a continuous up- and downhill cycling.

 

Day 4  

Palazzolo Acreide – Modica (65 km / 40,4 miles)

Before leaving Palazzolo Arceide you have still time to visit the old centre of town with it’s many churches. The ancient Greek city lies on the hill above the modern town. The auditorium of the small theater is well preserved. Then in the saddle and you cycle tour begins ! You are pedalling through the beautiful territory of the Monti Iblei (Hyblaean Mountains), a unique landscape, where rugged and wild areas alternate with an enchanting green scenery, characterized by the typical stonewalls. Modica is divided in Modica Alta (Upper Modica) and Modica Bassa (Lower Modica). Modica has maintained some of the most beautiful architecture in the Sicilian Baroque style recognizable by its grinning masks and putti and a particular flamboyance that has given Sicily a unique architectural baroque identity. A good example is the Cathedral of St.George (S.Giorgio).

 

Day 5 

Modica – Noto (98 km/ 61 miles)

Don’t leave Modica before you taste the famous chocolate, e.g. spiced with hot chili peppers. Cruising downhill through a beautiful Iblei canyon, you will arrive at Scicli, well worth a stroll along the small alleys and zip a glass of nice Sicilian wine at one of the small terraces. You continue your ride downhill to the coast and arrive to the island "Isola delle Correnti", a small rocky island, which lies on the same latitude as Tunis and marks the watershed between the Ionian and the Mediterranean Sea. Continuing through Portopalo di Capo Passero and Marzamemi, an ancient fishing village. Then you will reach the entrance to the natural preserve and wildlife sanctuary "Oasi di Vendicari", one of the more representative humid zones of Europe. It is a wonderful and uncontaminated reserve full of interesting plants and rare birds. Here you can find hundreds species of birds that choose every year this reserve as a resting place in their travel towards their reproduction zones. After you leave the reserve you continue pedalling to the most famous baroque town, Noto. In 2002 Noto and its church were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Day 6

Noto – Syracuse (75 km/46,5 miles)

Today start with an uphill ride to San Corrado, the archaeological area of Noto Antica on the mountain ‘Monte Alveria’ until you arrive to the view point of the nature reserve Cava Grande del Cassibile (505 mt). Dominating in the landscape is the canyon Cava Grande created by erosion of the small waterways running to the sea. It is 300m deep. You continue and arrive at Siracusa (Syracuse), capital of ancient Greece, where you certainly will want to visit the stunning archaeological park with the huge Greek theatre. 

 

Day 7

Siracusa

Free day for visiting Syracuse and the fascinating Ortygia island, the historical and cultural centre of the city. The Old Town of Siracusa captivates immediately with more than 3000 years of history and archaeological evidence of practically all great civilizations of the Mediterranean.It is worthwhile to visit Ortigia (Ortygia), a small island, which is the historical heart of Siracusa. It is connected to the main land by three bridges. The tight-knit lanes are pleasant for strolling, and much of the island's charm lies in wandering down narrow medieval lanes, past romantically Baroque palaces and churches, enjoy a good meal in one of the cosy restaurants or sit down at an outdoors cafe table on the main square.

 

Day 8

Departure after breakfast

 

 

 

 

Included in the cycle tour:

  • Cat. Standard: B&B and ** hotels  /  Cat. Deluxe  *** and **** star hotels 

  • Luggage transportation from hotel to hotel 

  • Detailed maps and route instructions (English, German, French or Italian). 

  • Assistance hotline

Not included in this tour

  • Transfer to and from the airport of Catania  

  • Evening meals and lunches

  • Tourist taxes

  • Everything not mentioned under 'Included in the cycle tour'

 

 

Period

Every Saturday from 4 Febraury till 11 November 2017 (other starting days on request) 

Level 3/4

The route follows mainly less frequented secondary roads. Some days there is significant up- and downhill cycling. This tour is suitable for all healthy persons with a road bike practice. Total km: 418 km / 260 miles

Price p.p. 2017 Standard Version

In double room      € 600,00 p.p.

 

In single room    € 755,00

High season supplement (July and August)   € 90,00 p.p.

Deluxe Version

In double room      € 670,00 p.p.

In single room    € 860,00

High season supplement (July and August)   € 110,00 p.p.

Half board supplement  € 190,00 

Single traveller supplement  € 100,00

Bike rental shimano 105   € 120,00

transfer from Catania airport to Caltagirone   € 45,00 p.p. (min 2 pax-max 4)

transfer Syracuse to Catania airport    € 35,00  p.p. ( min.2 pax-max 4)