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Cycling through Baroque Sicily

from $2,879.00

This eight-night, self-guided cycling holiday provides a wonderful introduction to Sicily’s south east, a part of the island renowned for its beautiful, unspoilt coastline, spectacular Baroque architecture and sumptuous regional cuisine.

  • Reviews 9 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Self-guided
  • Activity Level Moderate
    5/8
All about the Cycling through Baroque Sicily.

This 8-night, self-guided cycling holiday provides a wonderful introduction to Sicily’s south-east, a part of the island renowned for its beautiful, unspoilt coastline, spectacular Baroque architecture and sumptuous regional cuisine. Your journey takes you along a mix of inland and coastal routes, starting amidst the Baroque splendour of Ragusa and Modica and ending in stunning Siracusa on the east coast. You’ll cycle through lush valleys filled with olive trees, almond groves, vineyards and citrus orchards and patchwork puzzles of dry-stone-wall farms, as you cycle between UNESCO World Heritage Sites rebuilt in the typical late Baroque style after the famous 1693 earthquake.
You’ll take in plenty of Inspector Montalbano country – a treat for fans of the fictional detective series – including Scicli with its atmospheric streets and hilltop mausoleum as well as the charming fishing villages of Punta Secca and Sampieri. Following the scenic Mediterranean Route cycleway you’ll head towards the sea, taking in sublime coastline, punctuated by golden sandy beaches and picturesque fishing villages such as Portopalo di Capo Passero and pretty Marzamemi with its Arab history. After passing through Nero D’Avola wine country your holiday finishes in beautiful Siracusa, an ancient Greek city whose ‘historical heart’ is the island of Ortigia, accessed by a bridge from the mainland. Ortigia’s grand squares, narrow mediaeval streets and romantic palaces and castles are a delight to behold.
You’ll stay in a wonderful mix of accommodation including a lovingly restored, hillside masseria surrounded by olive trees and a charming villa hotel boasting fabulous views over Noto from its outdoor pool terrace and a minimalist design hotel in the centre of bustling Portopalo. Given the wonderful local cuisine on offer, including such Sicilian specialities as Pasta alla Norma and Pasta con le Sarde, we’ve included four evening meals on this holiday, leaving you free to dine out on the remaining nights.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • 8 nights accommodation, hotel-to-hotel
  • All continental breakfasts and 3 evening meals
  • Management by your local Headwater-appointed agent
  • GPS Route directions and maps
  • RideWithGPS Navigation app
  • High quality bikes
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Arrival & departure transfers (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Room upgrades and extra nights at selected hotels (inquire for prices and details)
  • E-Bike (available on request, inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • Beautiful, unspoiled, coastlines; charming fishing villages; rich fertile valleys
  • Inspector Montalbano country – visit the haunts of the famous TV detective
  • Authentic Baroque architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Superb regional food and excellent Nero D’Avola wines
  • A 10 night version of this tour is possible
  1. Day 1 Day 1: Arrive in Ragusa

    Arrive at your luxury 4 star hotel in Ragusa.

  2. Day 2 Day 2: Ragusa to Modica 41km/26mi or 32km/20mi

    You have two excellent choices today. We strongly recommend spending time in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ragusa Ibla – the simply stunning old town of Ragusa – rebuilt in 1693 after a huge earthquake and full of enchanting Baroque architecture, along with a number of tempting cafes and restaurants for lunch. Follow your visit with an undulating cycle through a rich, fertile valley of cacti and pomegranate orchards before freewheeling into the centre of Modica Bassa (the lower part of Modica City). Today’s longer option climbs above Modica, skirting Modica Alta (the upper part of the city), before passing quaint, dry-stone-wall farms as you weave your way to Cava d’Ispica – a verdant gorge full of thousands of caves and grottoes, stretching for 13 kilometres between Modica and Ispica!

  3. Day 3 Day 3: At Modica

    Often referred to as the Baroque capital of Sicily, the atmospheric city of Modica sits in a dramatic setting, perched between limestone cliffs. This UNESCO-listed city is home to an impressive 29 churches including two grand Baroque cathedrals, along with charming narrow streets peppered with cafes, restaurants and a number of tempting chocolate shops! Modica’s chocolate is one of the Ragusa area’s most famous products and to this day it’s still made to ancient Aztec methods. Make sure you sample some at Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily!

  4. Day 4 Day 4: Modica to Marina di Modica 40km/25mi

    Start today with a feel-good freewheel through a valley rich in pomegranates, cacti and quaint little farmsteads, on your way to the unmissable little town of Scicli. Overlooked by an imposing rock on which sits the magnificent Church of San Matteo, Scicli, like the other towns in the area, has been totally rebuilt in a pure Sicilian Baroque style following the 1693 earthquake. Wander its atmospheric streets and you’ll feel like you’re on the set of Inspector Montalbano – Via Mormino Penna is where you’ll find the fictional police station from the TV show! Be sure to check out the impressive, hilltop cemetery, just out of town, full of mausoleums and surrounded by magnificent pines and tall cypress trees. You reach the coast Cava d’Aliga and Sampieri (one of Ragusa’s most picturesque fishing villages and another of Montalbano’s favoured locations) all offer beautiful sandy beaches where you can stop and take the weight off today.

  5. Day 5 Day 5: Marina di Modica to Portopalo di Capo Passero 55km/34mi

    Hugging the coastline again you head to Pozzallo this morning, home to no less than four Blue Flag beaches – why not stop for a morning coffee and dip your toes in the Ionian Sea? Cutting inland you’ll cycle through pantani, a series of saltwater lagoons rich in birdlife such as mallards, flamingos, herons and storks, on your way to today’s highlight – the Isola delle Correnti (the ’Island of Stream’). The southernmost point of Sicily’s mainland, this isolated, seemingly adrift island is also the point at which the Ionian and Mediterranean seas meet. It’s quite a sight to behold!

  6. Day 6 Day 6: Portopalo di Capo Passero to Noto 45km/28.5mi

    Today’s cycle takes you to the beautiful old fishing village of Marzamemi – one of Sicily’s prettiest – with its colourful wooden boats, fishermen’s houses and charming buildings such as the Baroque church of San Francesco di Paola. Marzamemi became the centre of Sicily’s tuna fishing industry under its Arab influence and it keeps the tradition alive today, using artisanal fishing methods to produce a number of delicacies including canned tuna, smoked swordfish and marinated anchovies! Making your way to Noto you’ll head inland on a virtually traffic-free road that winds its way through olive groves, vineyards, almond trees, sugar cane and beautifully perfumed citrus orchards – idyllic surroundings for a picnic lunch.

  7. Day 7 Day 7: At Noto

    Your hotel is located in a lovely courtyard setting with an outdoor pool and superb views over Noto. If you can tear yourself away from the 4 star luxury, you could cycle to the nearby seaside resort of Lido di Noto for a lazy day on the beach, or opt for our recommended cycle ride into atmospheric Noto itself. Perhaps the most beautiful of all the cities you visit on this holiday, Noto’s current centre was rebuilt after the 17th century earthquake and is considered a Baroque masterpiece as well as being an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander down the Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, overlooked by Noto’s elegant cathedral, and explore the side streets filled with an array of fine architecture and cafes serving delicious local treats such as the savoury arancini and sweet cannoli.

  8. Day 8 Day 8: Noto to Siracusa 47km/29.5mi

    What a final day! You’ll follow the coast to the stunning city of Siracusa, built on an ancient Greek settlement and boasting a treasure trove of temples, amphitheatres and an ancient castle. On the way you’ll cycle through Avola – home of the famous Nero D’Avola red wine grape. You’ll also enjoy views of the majestic Mount Etna, and discover Plemmirio, an important area for flora and fauna and whose waters are home to a number of species including tuna, sea urchins, dolphins and sperm whales. After passing the Murro di Porco Cape, a striking landmark in the 1943 Conquest of Sicily, a final stretch takes you along the Bay of Siracusa and into the city itself.

  9. Day 9 Day 9: Leave Siracusa

    Transfer back to Catania airport (pre-booked, inquire for prices), or maybe spend extra nights in the Island’s second city.

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Where you stay
San Giorgio Palace
The four star superior hotel San Giorgio Palace is located in a 19th century building set into the hillside and offering panoramic views of Santa Domenica Valley. The floors of the hotel are connected with an elevator which takes you to the upper level of Ragusa Ibla. Rooms are charming, stylish and spacious. Breakfast is served buffet style in the large restaurant.
Hotel Il Ferro
A modern design hotel just 10 minutes from the centre of charming Baroque Modica, overlooking the old train station. The hotel building was once a hostel for railworkers but has now been turned into a very good comfortable hotel with large rooms and bathrooms.
Torre Dantona
The Torre Dantona dates back to 1882 and is an old farm building in the middle of olive groves. The old buildings have been lovingly restored to create a peaceful oasis just kilometres from the coast. The rooms have been created from the old stables and lie in a row of terraces, inside they have been tastefully decorated with a modern touch.
Portopalo Suite
This charming 10-room boutique hotel is located in the centre of Portopalo di Capo Passero. The rooms have been created to a high standard and have a modern quirky design. The hotel has used many environmental materials in the renovation of the old apartment block, and it has philosophy of mixing nature, culture and activity.
Villa Favorita
Villa Noto is an old grand villa on a hill looking over to the magnificent Baroque town of Noto. Once the grand house of an olive oil producer, it is now a grand hotel with its own pretty courtyard and lovely outdoor pool. The rooms retain an old elegance to them but have the right modern amenities to make your stay a comfortable one.
Grand Albergo Alfeo
The Grand Albergo Alfeo, is a 4 star hotel which was once a bank. The hotel building has been restored to a high standard and the rooms are large and airy. The hotel is just 300m from the enchanting island of Ortigia, the beating heart of Siracusa.
Eating and Drinking

Sicily’s typically southern Italian cuisine is interspersed with many more exotic dishes reflecting the island’s jumbled cultural past. Italian dishes like pasta alla norma (made with tomatoes, aubergine and grated ricotta) are often found on menus along with couscous (a north African speciality), or even pasta con le sarde (a pasta dish dating back to Phoenician times made from sardines, raisins, pine nuts, fennel, saffron, parsley and capers).
The Arabs introduced citrus groves to the island and a popular drink today is granita made with crushed ice and lemon. This was traditionally drunk with sweet bread dipped in it as a lunchtime snack by Sicilian peasants.
Fish is of course also abundant. Local specialities include pesce spada alla ghiotta (swordfish cooked with tomatoes, capers, onion, celery and potatoes) or tonno fresco alla brace (grilled fresh tuna).
Sicily is famed for its desserts. Why not try cannolo, a crunchy pastry tube filled with ricotta cheese and studded with candied fruits, pistachio and chocolate? Or cassata, the Arab influenced cake made with ricotta cheese, candied fruit and chocolate pieces.
Sicily is not traditionally famous for its wines, so it is surprising to learn that the island boasts one of the largest wine producing areas in the whole of Italy. Look out for the Etna DOC label and Corvo di Salaparuta. One of Sicily’s most popular wines is Alcamo Bianco – a soft white which goes well with fish dishes.

Cycling Conditions
Classification
: SelfGuided
Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/moderate)
Average daily distance: 44.4km (28miles)
No. of days cycling: 5
Terrain and route: The majority of the route is tarmac,  with a couple of streches of gravel along the way. Most of the rides are along quiet roads, with a couple of stretches of dedicated cycle tracks.
Vehicle Support: This is a self-guided trip for those who prefer to cycle independently, but with our assistance to take out the stress of the logistics and planning. We arrange your accommodation, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There maybe others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The routes notes contain a 24-hour emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the hotels are normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 26/09/2019
4/5

Mrs Evans

A great way to see beautiful countries, keep fit and enjoy good food & wine

Reviewed On 12/09/2019
5/5

Mr Houston

Great holiday cycling through beautiful countryside with wonderful historical UNESCO cities to explore.

Reviewed On 10/09/2019
5/5

Mr Heath

You need to be an experienced cyclist as there are some pretty busy roads. Scenery spoiled somewhat by the amount of litter. All,hotels excellent. Electric bikes superb. Baroque landscape superb.

Reviewed On 09/07/2019
4/5

Mrs Fletcher

In general the holiday was good. Some of the hotels (eg Portopalo Suite, Ferro Hotel) were not of the usual Headwater standard in particular with regard to location. Some outdoor space and perhaps a pool would have been nice. Torre Dantona and Villa Favorita were far more what we expected. We loved both of these places.

Reviewed On 17/06/2019
5/5

Mr May

An excellent holiday and itinerary, embracing 5 fascinating baroque towns and 2 pleasant coastal resorts. The cycling is not particularly demanding and passes through some lovely countryside. Usually, there are a fair number of cafes/refreshment places on the route. Most of the roads are reasonably quiet although there is the occasional fairly busy road for short periods. The hotels chosen are very good, especially The Stephano Palace and Villa Favorita. Claudio, our representative, was charming, informative and very helpful. He came out to rectify a mechanical problem within an hour of being called. The whole trip worked seamlessly including the audio app and transport to and from the airport.

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Package Confirmed Dates Trip Status Trip Status Price (PP) Excluding Flights Price (PP) Including Flights  
April 18, 2020
Available
$2,879.00
N/A
April 25, 2020
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$2,879.00
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May 2, 2020
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May 9, 2020
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May 16, 2020
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May 23, 2020
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May 30, 2020
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June 6, 2020
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June 13, 2020
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August 29, 2020
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September 5, 2020
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September 12, 2020
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September 19, 2020
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September 26, 2020
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October 3, 2020
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October 10, 2020
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October 17, 2020
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October 24, 2020
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April 4, 2020
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April 11, 2020
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