Tandem Bicycle Tours, Inc.

Tandem Bicycle Tours, Inc.
Seeing the world by tandem bicycle.


Jonathan Skule on Unsplash

The Best of Sicily, Italy Sep 29 - Oct 13, 2023 

Sicilia!

Segesta

Anjuna Ale on Unsplash

Porto Turistico, Castellamare

Francesco Labita on Unsplash

Salt Pans of Trapani

Flo P on Unsplash

Some Highlights of this Tour:

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, lies just off the toe of Italy's "boot." It is an amazing land rich in history and traditions, where art and culture intertwine with wonderful natural beauties. Standing on the Mediterranean crossroads between Europe and Africa, Sicily was periodically invaded by half the ancient civilized world, resulting in a very rich and varied cultural heritage. The island today is a melting pot of breath-taking mountains and active volcanoes, pristine beaches and ancient temples, Moorish cities and sleek resorts – and it is a great location for a bicycle tour!

This tour itinerary is divided into two sections each exploring a distinct region of the island. The first section takes us to the western coast, with attractions including Zingaro National Nature Reserve, lofty Erice, the Trapani salt pans, the wines of Marsala and the fabulous temple sites at Selinunte and Segesta. The second section explores the wonderful south-eastern region of the island where a chequerboard of stone walled fields and river valleys embraces a series of rich baroque market towns – Ragusa, Modica, Noto and Scicli. The city of Syracuse is the epitome of the island’s glorious Greek heritage.

Friday: Arrival Day
23.7 km – 563 m
After a one-hour transfer from Palermo, we arrive at the coastal resort of Castellammare where we spend our first night. After sorting out the bikes, we'll have an optional out and back warm up ride along the coast to the old tuna fishing port of Scopello and the Zingaro National Nature Reserve. We'll enjoy a welcome dinner tonight to start off our Sicilian adventure.

Saturday: Castellamare to Nubia
54.5 km – 493 m
Departing from Castellammare we ride first to the ancient city of Segesta, site of a very impressive Doric temple, before continuing west to meet the coast at Nubia, just south of Trapani, for a two-night stopover.

Sunday: Nubia Loop Ride
55.9 km – 869 m
The loop ride from Nubia takes us on a long but gentle climb from the coast to the spectacular hilltop town of Erice – the somber historic town is surrounded by defensive town walls, crowned by a castle, and dominates the surrounding area from its lofty height of around 750 metres above sea level. The town has a notorious history as a centre for the cult of Venus. There is the option to get to Erice by cable car if you don’t relish the climb on your bike! An alternative to the ride is a day trip by boat to the idyllic Egadi islands of Favignana and Levanzo.

Monday: Nubia to Marsala
72.9 km – 578 m
Riding south from Nubia we hug the coast as we ride through a bleached landscape of saline (salt pools) and shimmering heaps of salt dotted with small mulini (windmills) that were used to grind the salt. Salt production from these marshes was big business from the 12th century but is now reduced to a cottage industry. Marsala, where we stop for tonight, is an elegant town full of stately baroque buildings and bookshops. The town is famous for its sweet dessert wines, first developed by English soap merchant John Woodhouse in the 18th century.

Tuesday: Marsala to Menfi
92.7 km – 590 m
Continuing south along the coast we arrive at Mazara del Vallo, the narrow streets of its charming old town centre laid out in the Islamic style called Casbah, evidence of the strong North African influence – it was one of the key cities of Saracen Sicily. Our next site of interest is Selinunte Archaeological Park. Founded in 651 BC, Selinunte became one of the great cities of Magna Graecia (Greater Greece), and the ruins here are among Sicily’s most important historic sites, with seven temples in various states of ruin. To the east of Selinunte lies Menfi, our base for the night. The rolling hills that surround Menfi are carpeted by acre upon acre of vineyard and the town's raison d'être is wine-making, but it has also developed a thriving tourist industry based on its beautiful beaches.

Wednesday: Menfi to Sciacca
62.1 km – 1206 m
From Menfi we ride inland and immediately start to climb – our goal is the beautiful hilltop town of Caltobellotta. The highest point in the town is the ruined Norman castle where the peace treaty that ended the Sicilian Vespers was signed in 1302. The views of the terracotta roofs of the houses from here are really spectacular! Our afternoon ride rewards us with a long and gradual descent back to the coast at Sciacca, one of the oldest – and prettiest - spa towns in Italy. On arrival at our hotel the bikes are loaded in preparation for tomorrow morning’s transfer to Piazza Armerina.

Thursday: Caltagirone
36.3 km – 615 m
The coach transfer from Sciacca to Piazza Armerina (around 3 hours) marks the mid-point of the tour as we move from the western region to the south east of the island. The transfer takes around 3 hours and on arrival at Piazza Armerina there will be time to visit the extraordinary Unesco World Heritage listed Roman Villa at Casale, the most important Roman site in Sicily. The villa is remarkable for both its size and for the extent of its wonderful polychrome floor mosaics. The second half of the day takes us on a roller coaster route to the elegant baroque town of Caltagirone, renowned for its high-quality ceramics.

Friday: Caltagirone to Vizzini
27.6 km – 402 m/Optional 19.2 km – 416 m
From the hilltop Caltagirone we start the day initially descending then gently rolling to get to Grammichele, very interesting 17th century hexagonal-shaped town then we carry on to the area of Vizzini where we will stay for the night in a stunning medieval castle. From there we have an additional hilly loop ride in the hills nearby and a further extension to the village of Mineo, mostly in meadows and pasture lands.

Saturday: Vizzini to Ragusa Ibla
65.2 km – 863 m
Today we ride to Ragusa Ibla on a hilly and challenging ride. From the castle in Vizzini we'll pass by agave fields, then the landscape changes from meadows and pasture lands to organized and terrassed fields, the classic Ragusa countryside. Our arrival to the town of Ragusa Ibla is simply jaw dropping.

Sunday: Ragusa Ibla to Modica
73.5 km – 662 m
Leaving Ragusa Ibla is not easy since it is a charming place! We ride to the sea today, get to the modern Ragusa and from there we reach the famous Castle of Donnafugata (setting of Tomasi di Lampedusa Leopard) in the hills with wheat fields, carob trees and olive groves. We then descend to Punta Secca, the small village chosen, along with Scicli, as location for Ispettore Montalbano TV series. We'll follow a long coastal road through Marina di Ragusa until Donnalucata where we will go back inland crossing the hills in order to reach the beautiful Scicli and then Modica where we'll stay for the night. After the ride a chocolate tasting at the famous Antica Dolceria Bonajuto is HIGHLY recommended!

Monday: Modica to Noto
43.8 km – 517 m
A great ride awaits today, mostly hilly but not steep, featuring the beautiful terrassed fields of the Ragusa country, lots of almond and olive groves, some fig trees, lemon and oranges, wheat fields, with grazing cattle and sheep in the upper meadows. The second part of the day features a long descent to the valley of Noto, a UNESCO world heritage site. Noto is embellished with its Baroque style churches and palazzi. Two options available this day, that offer more or less the same distance but one ride has a steeper climb with amazing vistas in the entire valley as your reward. During the ride: possible cheese tasting at a farm for the famous Pecorino Ragusano cheese and othe delicacies. After the Ride: Granita Tasting at Caffe Sicilia at Corrado Assenza, a must do!

Tuesday: Noto Loop
51.2 km – 388 m
From Noto we ride to explore the southmost tip of Sicily, featuring the wetlands and Tonnara of Vendicari (the very last of the reserve bit should be done walking, bikes are prohibited) and the fishermen’s village of Marzamemi, from the arabic Marz’hamemi small harbour, with its beautiful square and the flatlands of Pachino where they cultivate the famous DOP cherry tomato. Along the ride it is possible to make some stops to the sandy beaches, among the nicest is San Lorenzo.

Wednesday: Noto to Syracuse
56.3 km – 683 m
In order to get from Noto to Syracuse we present two different routes. The first option is more moderate, taking us through the hills and then descending down to Syracuse with beautiful hills with olive groves, vineyards and almond groves presenting a climb from the very beginning for 19km then descending gradually to the sea and passing through the village of Canicattini Bagni. The alternative option is gentler, descending from Noto into the wine district of Avola (Nero d’Avola wine is one of the most known vintages) and then to the sea crossing nice sandy beaches and villages until we reach the wonderful Greek foundation town of Syracuse and its island of Ortygia. The main attraction is for sure the wonderful Ortygia, the island of Syracuse with its elegant piazzas and buildings, a wonderful Mediterranean gem.

Thursday: Transfer to Catania
After packing up the bikes we'll say farewell to our guides prior to the transfer back to Catania and an airport hotel prior to flights home or other destinations on Friday.

Friday: Depart for home or other destinations.

We are now taking bookings for this tour. If you are interested in this tour, please Contact Us for more information or check out our info page to see what's included on a Tandem Bicycle Tour.

Tandem Bicycle Tours strives to find quiet, paved secondary roads/bike paths for cycling and to avoid busy roads as much as possible. The description listed here is a very good approximation of our trips but hotels and routes may change marginally to improve the trip experience.

Ceramiche

Bello Italian Pottery

Our Guide's (Giovanni) Bike in Scicli

Scicli

Mangia!

Liubov Ilchuk on Unsplash

TOUR DETAILS

Dates & Pricing: