TOUR OF SICILY - May 2-12 2013
With The Topbike 2013 Tour of Sicily will be 11 days (10 nights) fully supported, off the tourist route where possible, riding up to 125 k a day (but not every day), starting and finishing in Catania. We will take a 40/60 coastal/inland route, including a 2 night visit to the island of Lipari. Group size will be limited to 13, with 3 staff.
Tour of Sicily 'Eat-Drink-Ride' 2/05/2013 – 12/05/2013
Tour of Sicily Itinerary 2013
Thursday, May 2
11am, pick up at Fontanarossa airport, Catania (Sicily) meet at 'arrivals', near the gate. Transfer by car to town of Zafferana (600m asl), just north of Catania. Once 'check-in' is complete we shall visit a local Pizzeria for lunch. We shall then commence orientation to our new surroundings and assembling of bikes etc. The riders will go for a short ride, to spin the legs out, and ease the travel stiffness while checking all equipment. Tonight we shall dine in a local agriturismo, just outside Zafferana.
Accommodation - Zafferana B&B
Ride: easy 1 hour.
Friday, May 3
Today we head out by bike, kicking off our Tour of Sicily. We'll take the road north out of Zafferana, around the base of Etna. Once at Linguaglossa (550m asl) we'll turn inland and west, to Passopisciaro (660m asl) heading across the valley that lies to the north of Etna. 5k further on we'll be at Mojo Alcantara for today's lunch stop. Not a bad place to have a picnic in the park. Here we'll have covered 40k and not much further along the road, the climbing starts in earnest up to Montalbano Elicona. There is always good grappa made in Sicily, and around Mojo it is particularly flavoursome. So if anyone wants to sample some grappa here, it is possible to action a support vehicle option for the afternoon's final 25k up to Montalbano Elicona.
Dinner tonight: Inhouse Accommodation: 4 star hotel above the town.
Ride: <70 ks, undulating.
Montalbano Elicona (Sicilian: Muntarbanu) is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Messina in the Italian region of Sicily, located about 150 km east of Palermo and about 50 km southwest of Messina. As of 2004, it had a population of 2,687 and an area of 67.4 km². It is mainly known for the castle built in 1233 by the Emperor Frederic II and the medieval architecture of its streets.
Saturday, May 4
There is no need to rush on our departure from Montalbano. After breakfast we can have a walk around our medieval hilltop town, enjoy a coffee, and maybe a pastry and relax a little before we head to the coast. Heading north we'll have a 20k ride to the coast, but remember, while it is definitely 'net loss', there will be slight uphills. Once on the coast we can choose to continue on the bike, or jump in the van for the easy route into Milazzo. We'll be taking the evening ferry to Lipari, leaving at 6pm. ETA at Lipari is 8.30 so after check in we'll be having a late dinner in the old port of Lipari.
Dinner tonight: Restaurant in town. Accommodation: hotel in Lipari town.
Ride: <40 ks, net loss downhill
Lipari (Sicilian: Lìpari, Latin: Lipara, Ancient Greek: Meligunis) is the largest of the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the north coast of Sicily, and the name of the island's main town. It has a permanent population of 11,231; during the May–September tourist season, its population may reach up to 20,000.
Sunday, May 5
There is a good road on Lipari, and it makes a fine 25 k loop. Now while this may not sound like much, in Topbike's well traveled opinion, it is the best 25k loop in the world. So it'll be up to you to do as many laps as you wish, before dinner. NB There really is only one road on the Island, so if you do get lost, it will only be a short matter of time before you find yourself again. 500m of ascent per lap here, too. Probably not too bad an idea to knock off by lunch time, to squeeze in a meal in town, a little exploratory walk, some time at the beach, or even a siesta! The only appointment today will be dinner time… downtown Lipari, seaside.
Dinner tonight: Seaside dining. Accommodation: hotel in Lipari town.
Ride: 25k (x times number of laps)
Monday, May 6
Our ferry back to the mainland of Sicily departs at 6.30am, so after an early start and quick breakfast, we'll be down to the porto and onto our ferry, for a two hour cruise back to Milazzo. Once on the mainland we'll continue driving along the coast, maybe launching the bikes from San Fratello, and ride 95k up and over the range, across some undulations in the interior of Sicily, and into our agriturismo in Nicosia. After such a big day, it will be nice to relax in the pool before walking the few steps to our inhouse restaurant. At some point today we will enjoy a picnic lunch en route. And hopefully, some sweet Sicilian cannoli, from our favorite pasticerria, in Cerami.
Accommodation: Nicosia, renovated farm house with pool.
Ride: 95 ks, <2,500m of ascent.
Nicosia (Sicilian: Nicusìa) is a village and comune of the province of Enna in Sicily, southern Italy. Nicosia, along with Troina are the northernmost towns in the province of Enna. The vicinity traditionally contained salt mines and arable lands.
Tuesday, May 7
80k today. Another big day on the bike, and once again it's net loss. Heading out from Nicosia we'll aim for Mistretta, for a long coffee stop. Out of Mistretta the road descends to the coast, and from here, as long as we keep the water to our right, we'll run into Cefalu. Views of the Mediterranean all day long.
Dinner: Seaside, local (walking distance). Accommodation: Beachside hotel in Cefalu.
Ride: <85 ks, undulating first half then mostly flat.
Cefalù is a city and comune in the province of Palermo, located on the northern coast of Sicily, Italy on the Tyrrhenian Sea about 70 km east from the provincial capital and 185 km west of Messina. The town, with its population of just under 14,000, is one of the major tourist attractions in the region. Despite its size, every year it attracts millions of tourists from all parts of Sicily and also, from all over Italy and Europe. In summer the population can triple, making the main streets and major roads in the country crowded. There is then a youthful atmosphere and a lively nightlife.
Wednesday, May 8
In a coastal town it is a good opportunity to once again stay put, allowing more time to soak up Cefalu, with a scenic loop for the riders taking in one of the GPMs of the 2008 Giro d'Italia. Alternately you may prefer to enjoy wandering the little cobbled streets of Cefalu, or maybe hire a beach umbrella, and lounge, for a truly Italian beach experience. Take note of how many times you walk into the water, as you are likely to be asked 'Quanti Bagni?' = 'how many baths did you take today?' = the Italian's idea of beach holiday success. The part we like is being able to order beer, coffee and 'Spaghetti Vongole' right to your lounge chair. Don't swim out too far or you may put the fear of god into the coast watch, as they aren't used to having real swimmers swim at their beaches.
Dinner: Seaside dining.
Ride: 60 ks around a hilly loop, quite hard climbing
Thursday, May 9
After breakfast we'll load the car and drive out of Cefalu, choosing to start our ride at Termini Imerese. From here we'll have 20k of coastal riding, before we turn inland and climb up towards Marineo. Through farmland, olive groves, cacti and the occasional sunflower we'll work our way into the heart of Sicily. Lunch or at least coffee at Marineo, before completing our 70k haul to San Guiseppe Jato. Our accommodation lies across the valley from San G, and it has one of the steepest driveways you'll ever see, so we may transport the final kilometre home.
Dinner: Inhouse. Accomodation: Former Prince's palace converted to an agriturismo.
Ride: <85 ks flat on the coast, before hills and undulations.
San Guiseppe Jato, like many villages and towns in the north of Sicily, its inhabitants rely on the production of corn, olives and grapes for their livelihood. Each September the village holds a Festival of Grapes and Wine where these commodities and other agricultural produce is displayed. The area around San Giuseppe Jato is also known for its beef cattle breeding and as a centre for woodturning and iron works.
Friday, May 10
It's a long way to the south of the island, from where we are, and Agrigento is our goal. First up, we're off to Corleone for a coffee stop at least, maybe a grappa, or gelati or even lunch. Topbike is probably the only tour group to visit this town, as it is tied in with the origins of the Mafia. With nary a tourist in sight, it is only recently the town has started to catch on to the fact that its sordid past could be marketable, and we noticed some Il Padrino (The Godfather) Amareto for sale. Expect there to be lots of stares, as the old men wonder what a group of 'lycra clads' are doing in their town. Other activities include trying to spot the hideout of the infamous 'Benny the Tractor' – rumoured to be in the vicinity of a cheese factory in the nearby hills.
Corleone (Sicilian: Cunigghiuni) is a small town and comune of approximately 12,000 inhabitants in the Province of Palermo in Sicily, Italy. It is known primarily as the birthplace of several Mafia bosses, some fictional, such as The Godfather's Vito (Andolini) Corleone, and some real, such as Jack Dragna, Giuseppe Morello, Michele Navarra, Luciano Leggio, Leoluca Bagarella, Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano. The local mafia clan, the Corleonesi, led the Mafia in the 1980s and 1990s, and were the most violent and ruthless Mafia clan ever to take control of the organization.
After Corleone we have a solid inland route to Agrigento on the coast, where the road cycling world championships were held in 1994. More recently, in 2008, the Giro d'Italia finished a stage here, after starting in Cefalu.
Dinner: Local restuarant. Accomodation: B&B central Agrigento.
Ride: <135k of hills and undulations.
Saturday, May 11
On our final day of riding we've got 95k in front of us, once we transport out of Agrigento to Canicatti. We'll take the scenic inland route, through Sommatino, coffee at Riesi, lunch in Mazzarino before the afternoon's final 40k into Caltagirone.
Dinner: central Caltagirone. Accomodation: B&B.
Ride: 95k of hills and undulations.
Later we might venture out for a passegiata through the streets of Caltagirone, whilst eating gelati (served in a bun, to be a true Sicilian).
Sunday, May 12
After breakfast it's time to pack up the bikes and farewell all your mates. From Caltagirone we can drop you off at Catania's Fontarossa airport or Ferry terminal. Or anywhere that is in the direction we are heading. Arriverderci!
This tour includes:
- 11 days, 10 nights, all breakfasts and dinners, accommodation and welcome lunch
- Ground transport in the Topbike air-conditioned van - back up vehicle on every ride (except the 'Lipari loop')
- Airport pick up and drop off in the Topbike A/C van
- See the full list of inclusions on all Topbike Tours
- Does Not include 'Ferry/Hydrofoil' tickets.
- Please pack your bike in a collapsible bag or disposable cardboard box.
[See our FAQ's and recommendations section on packing your bike]
- Please also see our recommended list of things to bring, it is most important to bring front and rear flashing lights.
- NB: The itinerary above is to be used as a guide only, as Topbike Tours are well known for making use of all (and creating some extra) opportunities, expect that variations from the above can happen at any time.