Sicily: La Bella Sicilia
Sicily’s Ancient Mainlands Meet the Legendary Aeolian Islands
A distinct yet indescribable island, Sicily has withstood centuries of tyranny and upheaval to emerge as a vital and varied cultural region. Contained by the Mediterranean’s largest island, Sicily’s soil and architecture reveal layer after layer of intriguing history and rule by Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, French, Spanish, and Bourbons. Home to some of the finest examples of Greek architecture in the world, Sicily is an archaeologist’s paradise.
Focusing on the lush green spectacle in springtime and on the vast golden stage in autumn, this bike tour in Sicily travels the southern and northeastern tip of the island to areas overlooked by the tourist masses. We begin in the ceramic town of Caltagirone, then via olive groves and tiny mountain villages, we ride toward Ibla and follow the route to Siracusa, a Greek town filled with archeological treasures. Our active adventure includes a hike up Mt Etna, the highest volcano in Europe. Our bike tour reaches its apex on the dreamy, volcanic Aeolian Islands, each with its own distinct character and charm. We hike, swim, and bike where the movie “Il Postino” was filmed. Come experience Italy’s best kept secret and next hot spot!
Check out our 6-day La Bella Sicilia Mini
- Witness views of Europe’s highest volcano, the Mount Etna
- Two days on exotic Aeolian islands
- Learn more about the Baroque Ragusa and the Greek monuments of Siracusa
- Visit to a Slow Food presidia of capers, olive oil and Malvasia wine in Lipari
- Stay in 4-star hotels and enjoy delicious Sicilian feasts including fresh seafood and vegetables
- Immerse yourself in the Sicilian culture with the local music and the warm people of the Island
Day by Day
Day 1 — Caltagirone
Today take our group shuttle at 11:30am at Catania airport and meet us at the hotel around 1pm for a light lunch and introductions, followed by a warm-up ride. Caltagirone is located on three hillocks, and was completely rebuilt in 1693 after a terrible earthquake. Nowadays it possesses all the characteristics of a 17th century Baroque Sicilian town. It’s famous for azulejos (Spanish style glazed tiles) used to embellish the facades of the local homes. It is also the birthplace of the Christian Democratic party - as it was here that its founder, Don Luigi Sturzo, was born.
Day 2 — Caltagirone to Ragusa
After an easy start, the traffic-free road begins to undulate and sports three major climbs and several roller coasters. The last part of the ride is almost completely downhill before entering Ragusa - a city in which urban expansion, fortunately, has not ruined the character of its 18th century neighborhoods. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the fascinating Ragusa Ibla, a vestige of the Baroque period.
Day 3 — Ragusa Loop to Donnafugata and Scicli
We start today’s ride with a pleasant downhill from the Altopiano Ibleo toward the coast. We stop for a visit of the beautiful Villa Donnafugata, the rural summer vacation house of the Arezzo family, then we continue among carob trees and greenhouses to reach Scicli, another great example of baroque reconstruction (like Noto, it too was destroyed by the 1693 earthquake). After lunch we climb back to the valley with great views of the Irminio river canyon. In the evening enjoy a walking tour of ancient Ragusa Ibla and dinner in town.
Day 4 — Ragusa to Siracusa
Today's ride takes us up into the Altopiano Ibleo, a remote and beautiful area where shepherds are the only inhabitants. We continue on to Siracusa: founded by Greek settlers in the 8th century BC. Siracusa grew into an economic and political center in the Mediterranean and as such, engaged in frequent struggles. With sufficient historical background, the archeological sites come alive. Siracusa’s famous 3rd century BC Greek theater – the largest in Italy – offers a breathtaking view. In the evening, we dine at a typical Sicilian restaurant where we get our first taste of some local specialties.
Day 5 — Siracusa to San Giovanni la Punta
Bike in one of Sicily’s most fascinating archeological reserves and nature site. Founded in the 16th century, the legendary Necropolis of Pantalica is on a plateau between the Anapo and Calcinara Rivers. Over 5,000 tombs are carved in its steep rock walls, suggesting that a population of several thousand people once lived in its vicinity from prehistoric through medieval times. Today's highlight is a pleasant ride on quiet roads with the impressive Etna right in front of us. We see also many WWII bunkers which dot our tiny road en route to S. Giovanni La Punta. Tonight a musical surprise will fill you into with the genuine Sicilian spirit and way of life that make the inhabitants of this island so warm and welcoming!
Day 6 — Hike Etna
Take an early van ascent up Mt Etna to hike and enjoy the magnificent views of the volcanic area. On a clear day, you can see all of Sicily. In the afternoon, we go to Taormina, where you'll have the rest of the day free to explore the town and to shop.
Day 7 — The Aeolian Island Lipari
The island of Lipari is quite rugged. Here you’ll find beautiful scenery, volcanoes, castles, thermal resorts, water sports, and magnificent beaches. Because the island is so compact and quaint, it should be pedaled at a leisurely pace so as to take in all of the small villages and to observe the landscape. From the geological and volcanological perspectives, the island of Lipari is the most complex. The ancient part of the island was formed by the remains of stratum volcanoes, which were to the west of the islands, making up Timponi, Monterosa, amongst others. The volcanoes have erupted pumice stones and made up a number of “cupolas,” among which is Monte Giardina. The highlight today will be a visit to a Slow Food presidia famous for the production of capers, olive oil and Malvasia wine.
Day 8 — The Aeolian Island Salina
Today we take a private boat to Salina. Along the way, opt to take a dip or two in the water during your relaxing boat ride with our native seamen through the calm, turquoise blue Mediterranean Sea. On bike, we explore Salina’s beauty as well as its fascinating ancient history. Salina’s ancient Greek name, Didyme (twin) derives from the shape of the island. Its present name, Salina, originates from a coastal lake that was once utilized as a "salt-pan". Situated along the Lingua point, it has a depth of a few meters and an extent of almost two hectares. The coastal cordons encircling it are formed by the strong marine currents that cross the channel between Salina. After a short bike ride, we are off to the cove of “Il Postino.” In Salina, we’ll have a taste of the traditional Aeolian lunch and the best granita!
Day 9 — Arrivederci!
After breakfast round 8:30am, we leave from the island of Lipari and offer a group hydrofoil (1 hour) to Milazzo, followed by a group shuttle (2hrs) to Catania airport for international connections or to continue your travels to Italy and beyond!
- Bike rental equipped with odometer, map case, handlebar and seat bags and bike pump
- Ciclismo jersey and water bottle
- Shuttles at beginning, during and end of the tour
On The Tour
- 2 wine tastings
- Hike up Mt. Etna
- Visit to Siracusa and guided walking tour of Ragusa
- Boat ride with locals to remote turquoise coves
- Music by local Musicians
Accommodations & Meals
- All accommodations and breakfasts
- 6 dinners
- 2 lunches
Here’s a sampling of some of the amazing places you’ll stay on your journey.
For a full listing, request a detailed itinerary!
Locanda don Serafino
Set in Ibla – the historic part of Ragusa – this hotel offers a wine-bar and a cigar list.
View their website
Grand Hotel Ortigia
This 5-star Hotel features also a spa and is located in the historic centre and not far from the new part of town.
View their website
Hotel Villa Diodoro
Beautifully situated, the Hotel stakes its claim in one of the prime locations in the picturesque town of Taormina. A famous
destination which is worth your stay in Sicily.
View their website