Sicily by bike

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Cycling through Sicily is a wonderful adventure. The island deserves to be visited slowly.

You will be spoilt for choice as there are many associations in the region that offer organised tours. Below are some ideas for you to try out the many possible itineraries.

The route from Trapani to Syracuse passes through some of the most beautiful places on the island. From Trapani, heading towards Agrigento, you can choose to pass by the Acropolis of Selinunte, or alternatively by Segesta.

A route of rare beauty is the coastline between Trapani and Marsala, an expanse of smooth, calm sea water reflecting the blue Sicilian sky.

In this western end of Sicily are the Saline della Laguna, a unique area opposite the island of Mothia, along the famous ‘salt road’, the gateway to the Stagnone Islands Nature Reserve. The evocative windmills frame a landscape of ponds, canals, heaps and piles of salt. Further afield, the three pearls: the Egadi Islands.

The main cycle route is in the province of Agrigento: 170 kilometres of routes between the sea and archaeological sites. Starting from Porto Palo di Menfi, for example, you can cycle from Sciacca and Menfi to Montallegro. You can discover the WWF reserve of Torre Salsa and, from here, start the scenic route that passes through Realmonte, Capo Rossello, Scala dei Turchi and Porto Empedocle, where Luigi Pirandello was born. The Valley of the Temples is practically a stone’s throw away…

Moving into the interior of Sicily, near Caltanissetta, another interesting itinerary is the one that passes between castles and endless fields of wheat, from Gela towards the medieval castle of Mazzarino; alternatively, you can go towards Mussomeli, and visit the ancient castle.

The itinerary stretches through the rural landscape around Ragusa, between dry stone walls that intersect on the coastal road, until it reaches Donnafugata, the castle with its fascinating legends that stimulated the imagination of numerous directors, including Luchino Visconti in The Leopard.

Then it’s on to the Baroque cycle route, which passes UNESCO-protected towns such as Modica, Scicli, Palazzolo Acreide and Noto on its way to Syracuse. And here we are on the southern coast, towards the island of Correnti and Capo Passero, the most southerly municipality in Italy; from here we come to the Vendicari Reserve, then the Plemmirio Marine Reserve and, finally, Syracuse.

There are many itineraries in the Alto Belice Corleonese, in the province of Palermo. You will pass through towns such as Monreale, famous for its marvellous cathedral (UNESCO), Piana degli Albanesi, known for its cannoli, Palazzo Adriano, the set of the film “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso”, Cefalà Diana, known for its fascinating Arab baths, the Bosco della Ficuzza Nature Reserve, home to the Royal Hunting Lodge, and finally Corleone.

A change of area, not to be missed for those who don’t fear fatigue, is the climb up Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“3,340 metres above sea level, a unique and majestic massif rising from the sea and just asking to be climbed, pedalled across, and conquered. It is a mountain that can be climbed all year round, in winter as well as in summer. In the cold months, you need a heavier jacket to descend, and at most, there are only three or four days a year when the snow will prevent you from riding its slopes; while in the summer climbing Etna, leaving the Sicilian heat below, will be a refreshing experience“.

This is how the Parco ciclistico dell’Etna (“Etna cycle park”) project describes ascents to the volcano, offering six well-mapped climbs. Signposts inviting people to pay attention and respect the presence of cyclists provide all the relevant information about the characteristics of the routes. The first climb goes from Ragalna to Piano Vetore (14 kilometres); the second goes from Nicolosi to Rifugio Sapienza (18 kilometres); the third, which goes from Pedara to Rifugio Sapienza, is the most demanding climb; the fourth route goes from Zafferana to Rifugio Sapienza; the fifth climb goes from Fornazzo, a hamlet of Milo, to Rifugio Citelli; and lastly, the cycle route goes from Linguaglossa to Piano Provenzana. All the climbs are named after cycling champions.

Let’s discover the Nebrodi Park through itineraries that pass lakes, streams, thick woods, wide valleys and sharp peaks. We start from Portella Femmina Morta near Mistretta and arrive at Portella Mitta, near Floresta along the so-called Nebrodi ridge, which is about 65 km long.

We will reach Lago Maulazzo, which invites us to take a break in the meadow, and then on to Lago Biviere di Cesarò where we may encounter grazing animals such as Sanfratellani horses and Nebrodi black pigs.

From the lake of the Biviere di Cesarò, the landscape opens up to the Rocche del Castro and the village of Alcara Li Fusi.

Other routes, organised according to level of difficulty and duration, are within the Madonie Park. There are many towns in the area that reflect the soul of Sicily, such as Geraci Siculo, Petralia Soprana and Cefalù, counted among the most beautiful Sicilian villages in Italy.

The journey continues… from Palermo to Caccamo by bike.

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