Sicily represents the crossroads of many cultures: Greek Arab and Phoenicians are just some of the peoples that have claimed her for their own. Sicily’s rich cultural history is matched only by her natural beauty. Silver olive groves and orange orchards are broken up by jagged cliffs, cut into the land by the world’s most famous volcanoes: Mt. Etna. Our tour begins on The Aeolian Islands (Lipari, Vulcano, Salina), the islands made famous by Homer’s Odyssey. Enchanted by the deep blue seas and black beaches, sailors spent years along their shores. Our days are spent biking, beaching and island hopping. Islands are just minutes apart – we put ourselves and our bikes aboard fishing boats and ferry between the towns. From the islands we head to the mainland and Taormina. A resort since Roman times, Taormina’s architecture is a mix of Baroque and Middle Eastern influences. Chic boutiques and a spectacular Greek amphitheatre await us on our layover day. Finally, we bike inland towards the remote villages and snowy peak of Mt. Etna.
Wherever we are in Sicily, the cucina is fresh and abundant. Menus feature grilled calamari; frutti di mare, and rich desserts based on marzipan and almonds. Wines are hearty and robust – from the deep red of a Corvo to the golden sparkle of the dessert wine Malvasia.
Our bicycle tours are created as a vacation, not a race. Routes are filled with orange groves, vineyards, and spectacular views of the Ionian Sea. Our riding is on gently rolling to rolling terrain. There is one long climb on Lipari and some hills on Salina and around Mt. Etna National Park Nevertheless, our daily mileage is relatively short and our pace, on all days is relaxed. Island Hopping on Sicily and the Aeolian Islands is recommended for athletic beginners to moderate cyclists.
Day 1 & 2 Lipari Out to the exotic Aoelian Islands via hydrofoil. Several volcanic islands make up the archipelago, and we spend the next few days exploring them by bike, by boat and by foot. Lipari, the largest of the Aeolians, greets us with Baroque architecture, colorful fishing boats and a lively port lined with cafes. The pace is slow, laid back… and infectious! Linger over freshly shaved almond granita or stretch out on the black beach at Aquacalda. Be sure to visit Lipari’s archaeological museum which boasts an excellent collection of ancient Greek painted vases found in the waters nearby.
Day 3 Salina & Vulcano By fishing boat over to Vulcano to soak in the bubbling sulfur mud baths or hike to the crater for a spectacular view of the Tyrrhenian Sea. A private charter carries us to Salina, dotted with white-washed houses and brilliant pink bougainvillea. We cycle along the coastal route with views of Stromboli before us. Optional ride to the cliffside village that inspired the filming of Il Postino.
Three nights at Villa Meligunis, a 4 star inn set in the old town of Lipari. Enjoy views of fishing boats and the Church of St. Bartolomeo from your room.
Day 4 & 5 Taormina & Castelmola Transfer to the stylish beach resort of Taormina, perched high above the Ionian Coast. We join Giuseppe for a walking tour of the Greek theatre, and have the afternoon free to browse the chic boutiques, sample homemade marzipan, or bike out to the hidden villages of the Agro Valley.
Two nights at Grand Hotel Timeo, a superb 5 star property with elegant rooms, service and style.
Day 6 & 7 Mt. Etna We head inland by fragrant orange groves, oleander blossoms, and the lava fields around the base of snow-capped Mt. Etna. Optional ride to Zafferana Etnea, the village that was touched by the lava in 1992. A farewell feast, Sicilian style, featuring homemade cavatappi with sweet tomatoes, island grown capers and spaghettini with sea urchins, all washed down with golden Malvasia wine.
Our final night is at the Villa Paradiso, a 4 star villa set near the base of Mt. Etna.
Length: 7 days/6 nights
Daily Mileage: 15-38 miles on gently rolling to rolling terrain. Some climbs.
Dates: Apr 23-29, 2006, May 7-13, 2006, May 28-Jun 3, 2006, Jun 4-10, 2006, Sep 24-30, 2006, Oct 1-7, 2006, Oct 15-21, 2006
Start: At the Catania Airport (Fontanarossa) at 12 noon. I hr. from Rome by air.
Finish: At the Catania Airport by 12 noon. **Tours run in reverse will finsh by 3:00 pm.
Pre and Post Trip Recommendations: Fly into Rome or Milano and then on to Catania. Spend one night in either Rome or Catania before the tour begins. In order to bike on Day I, you must arrive in Italy at least 1 day prior to your tour. This helps you recover from jet lag and ride safely. We highly encourage you to extend your stay in Sicily to visit areas such as Syracuse, Palermo and Agrigento.
- Services of 2 experienced guides.
- All maps, trip notes, and detailed route directions.
- Support van and baggage transfer. (Due to the size of the islands, our support van does not follow us on Salina or Vulcano).
- All gratuities at inns & restaurants; All state & local taxes.
- Private guided tour of Taormina & the Greek Amphitheatre.
- T-shirt and water bottle.
- Wine at some select meals and wine tastings., All other alcoholic beverages are at the discretion of our clients.
- Detailed pre-trip information packet including travel directions, how to prep for your tour and pre/post tour hotel recommendations.
- Rental bike is a 24 speed Cannondale H500 Hybrid. Helmet, water bottle and handlebar bag included. Toe clips are also available. You may bring your personal clipless pedals and we will attach them. We also supply complementary helmets, but for the best fit bring your own personal helmet Your handlebar bag includes: a clear map case, a full color map of the region, tissues, spare tube, de-grease cloths and a bike lock
Our small groups (limit of 16) assure distinctive service and selection throughout our trips.
Our Sicily hotels are restored 4 & 5 star inns which reflect the architecture, art and hospitality of the region, including the superb 5 star Grand Hotel Timeo. All with private baths and luxuries such as marble baths, jacuzzis and private terraces.
Meals feature wonderful Sicilian cuisine. Dining is unrestricted, from the menu, not a pre-set or fixed meal. Whether we are dining in a small trattoria where the pasta in made in the back room, or in a beautiful ristorante ovelooking the duomo, our meals reflect the best and freshest of the region. Included are all breakfasts, one picnic lunch and snacks along the way, 4 dinners featuring unrestricted menus: appetizers, soups & salads, main courses, coffee & dessert. 2 free nights for dinner on your own.
Weather: We plan all of our tours based on the best season for biking in that region. Nevertheless, we always recommend you pack rain gear for that unexpected shower. The climate in Sicily is temperate and the spring and fall are very similar. Spring and early summer tours are filled with abundance of wildflowers–expect to see bright pink bougainvillea, daisies and wild geraniums. Warm days are followed by cool nights and you will catch Italy before the crowded summer months. Fall months will still be warm and bougainvillea will still cover the islands. Prickly pears will also be ripe and ready to pick from the cacti. Ocean swimming is possible both in the summer and fall. In a good year we will be swimming until the end of October.
Average high and low temperatures: April= 66/55, May= 74/61, June= 77/68, July= 83/74, August= 84/75, September= 80/72, October= 74/66
Every morning your guides review the day’s route and the highlights of the day. You set your own pace. You do not “follow the leader” or need to keep up with the group. We encourage you to slow down, relax and enjoy the day. Most of you will bike our main route, some of you may add on mileage with our optional routes. Your guides are always in the background. One guide sweeps the route by bike, the other sweeps with our van. Sometimes, the van is needed to deliver luggage or to transfer supplies. Don’t worry, if you break down or are tired and want a lift, you can reach your guide via the guide’s cell phone supplied on every tour.
“And unlike many group ventures, it’s an intimate, first-class affair .. there’s no oppressively regimented schedule”-
New York Magazine
“Crazy about cycling? Grab your bike and head for Italy. Wine-taste your way through Umbria… staying in palatial accommodations…or view the Venetian countryside, with its Renaissance villas, medieval towns and red-poppy farms”.
– Vogue Magazine
“For folks whose tastes run to small, elegant inns and gourmet restaurants”.
– Travel America
“I discovered one of the best cycling touring companies to ride with …an impressive company offers trips loaded with amenities and flair …they thought of everything you may possibly need…”
– Cape Cod Life
” …5 star accommodations in historic palaces, exquisite unlimited cuisine prepared by first class chefs and a daily choice of menus make this a bike lover’s dream…”
– Italia Magazine