South-east baroque Sicily by bike
Palazzolo Acreide-Raglusa Ibla-Modica-Pozzalo-Marzamemi-Noto-Siracusa
Sicily is ideal to be discovered by bike. It is an infinite island: mythical and very real, sunny, and magnificent, rich in nuances and particularities. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Normans have inhabited its land over the centuries 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 that coexist in perfect harmony and give this land an unquestionable uniqueness.
The most striking thing about Sicily is its unspoiled nature and its unusual and varied landscapes. Along the enchanting coasts, you can find everything from rocky cliffs to great flat expanses of sandy beaches. 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 Nero d’Avola, Passito di Pantelleria, Malvasia di Lipari and the renowned fortified wine of Marsala.
The daily program of the 7-day tour
Individual arrival at Palazzolo Acreide, handover of the bikes, the road book, maps and all the information you need to make a success of this tour.
Before leaving Palazzolo Acreide you have still time to visit the old centre of town with its 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 enchanting green scenery, characterized by the typical stone walls. On your way to Modica you make a stop at Ragusa Ibla, built on a hilltop. It is a beautiful baroque town in the Val di Noto. To arrive at Modica there is a short climb. Modica is divided into 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).
Overnight stay at Modica
Distance: 50 km / 31 miles
Ascent/descent: + 531m – 868m
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. In Pozzallo you can enjoy the sea
Overnight stay at Pozzallo
Distance: 42 km / 26 miles
Ascent/descent: + 343m – 635m
Today no uphill and downhill cycling. You cross some typical wetlands, like the “Pantano Longarini” and “Pantano Cuba”, a popular stopover for migratory birds on their movements between Africa and Europe. Cycling along the shore you will reach the southernmost point of Sicily, 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. Your overnight stay is in the close by village of San Lorenzo.
Overnight stay at San Lorenzo
Distance: 57 km / 35,4 miles
Ascent/descent: + 277m – 271m
On a flat road heading north along the coast, you will reach the entrance to the nature 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 of 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.
Overnight stay at Noto
Distance: 35 km / 21,8 miles
Ascent/descent: + 368m –279m
You will follow the coast further up north to Siracusa (Syracuse), an important colony of ancient Greece, where you certainly will want to visit the stunning archaeological park with the huge Greek theatre. It is worthwhile to visit Ortigia (Ortygia), a small island, which is the historical heart of Siracusa. It is connected to the mainland 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 outdoor cafe table on the main square.
Overnight stay at Siracusa
Distance: 38 km / 23,6 miles
Ascent/descent: + 157m –253m
Overnight stay at Siracusa
Distance: 55 km / 34,2 miles
Ascent/descent: + 600m –698m
After breakfast ends your cycle tour through Baroque Sicily End of the tour and individual departure or extension with an additional day to visit Siracusa.
The route follows mainly less frequented secondary roads. Most of the parts are flat, some have light uphill sections, but still easy to manage. This tour is suitable for all healthy persons with bike practice. Depending on your personal preference and fitness, on day 6 you can choose between two different tracks varying in elevation profile and/or distance covered.
Average daily distances:
35 km / 21,8 mi and 57 km /35,4 mi
Total min 219 km / 136 miles – max 239 km / 148 miles
Daily from January until the end of November
2 or more people (solo traveller on request).
START / FINISH:
Palazzolo Acreide / Siracusa