Western Sicily is simply a different world. But different from what? Definitely from the rest of Italy, but surprisingly, it is also distinct from the eastern more touristy, part of the island. The west shares the same astonishing beauty, history, and culture as the rest of the island but with fewer tourists and less bustle. One of the things that makes western Sicily such a unique destination is its proximity to Africa. The connection is much stronger here than in the more developed areas on the east side, with strong Moorish influences in the architecture (exemplified by the tight passages of the old quarters) and in the local cuisine. Sicily's location in the Meditarenian has been strategically important since ancient times. Practically every major Meditarenian civilization laid claim to part or all of the island. Each has left its imprint, whether on the culture, architecture, language, cuisine, or wines. Naming all the highlights of this tour through the heart of western Sicily would require pages and pages. Starting and ending in Palermo, the tour passes through Monreale, Erice,and Mazara del Vallo. While each of these towns deserve a longer visit (look at the resources below to get a better insight), that would leave little time for cycling. Is Sicily paradise? It definitely is for those who like to travel on a bike, but we cannot deny that is also the most controversial and complicated Italian region. Where the poignant beauty of the places and the warm hospitality of the local people stands in contrast to the well known social problems. We will talk more about these issues when crossing through towns like Corleone or when visiting Palermo. Love it or hate it: that's Sicily. Biking is a great way to explore this portion of the island, as cycling provides the slow approach that allows travelers to appreciate every sight. The tour is designed in the shape of a ring that embraces Sicily's western end, proposing relatively low elevation gains on gentle gradients as well as distances that leave us plenty of time for not only exploring what the geography and architecture have to show us, but also to taste - stage after stage - the world-class cooking and wine that is a recognized asset of this region. This tour is offered either as guided or self guided. But we suggest to take a chance to discover 'real' Sicily supported by our local team. You'll see it makes a big difference!
JUN 05 2021
PRICE FROM €1599,00 // GUIDED TOUR
PRICE FROM €899,00 // SELF-GUIDED TOUR
CASTELLAMMARE DEL GOLFO, SICILY, ITALY
PALERMO, SICILY, ITALY
4 nights at 4-star, 1 night at 3-star, 2 nights at Agriturismo. 5 dinners; all breakfasts.
Individual arrival transfer from Palermo or Trapani airport to Castellammare del Golfo; individual departure transfer from Palermo to Palermo or Trapani airport; supplement for single accommodation € 250 p.p.; bike rental. Extra night in Palermo € 60 (Breakfast included).
On this day we leave the coastline and explore the inner regions of western Sicily. Left Trapani, after 25 km, we'll reach Marsala, sea town known for the homonym Marsala wine, a fortified wine famous all over the world, but also for being the landing town of the "Expedition of thousand": the campaign undertaken in 1860 by Giuseppe Garibaldi that overthrew the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naples) and reunited southern Italy and Sicily with the central and northern part. Overnight and dinner at Agriturismo
Out of Castelvetrano we'll keep exploring the wildest areas of western Sicily, through the hilly countryside of the Belice Valley, for us cyclists a region where scenic roads go through vineyards, but historically an area of great interest, as it was totally destroyed by an earthquake in 1968. We'll see around us the indelible signs of that disaster either in the landscapes and in the memories of the local population: from the small village of Partanna, and for the next 30 km we'll mostly encounter ghost villages, aside the ever present vineyards and pastures. Noteworthy, the suggestive Cretto di Burri (or Cretto di Ghibellina): a huge land artwork, built as a form of memorial on the ruins of the town of Gibellina and conceived by the artist Alberto Burri, that has followed the former street plan covering the village with a white concrete maze.
...it is a sort of concrete labyrinth, which, seen from above, is similar to the maze of lies in which the judges had to orient themselves to find the thread of the investigation" - Alberto Burri
Past this artwork, our ride will continue through the vineyards of Belice, crossing the important wine towns of Poggioreale, Salaparuta, Santa Margherita del Belice up to Sambuca di Sicilia, our destination. A day rich in culture ends in a comfortable accommodation at Sambuca di Sicilia. Overnight and dinner at a four-star hotel.
Today we'll face a demanding stage in one of the wildest area of the island, very poor in settlements. And during our ride, we will encounter only two villages. Left Sambuca di Sicilia we'll ride on a continuous up and down across the Sicani Mountains up to Chiusa Sclafani, a small village active in the cherries production (capable of 3800 quintals/year), but also rich in more typically Mediterranean products like olives and peaches. Up and down again to Palazzo Adriano, a village founded in the XV century by Albanian emigrants and known for being film set of Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, the masterpiece of Giuseppe Tornatore which won an Oscar in 1990. Nothing more fascinating than having a break right there! Maybe with cappuccino and "cuddureddi" - a sweet pastry characterized by a filling of cooked wine and almonds. So much tasty!
Past Palazzo Adriano, nature becomes the unique protagonist, and riding through pastures, cultivated fields and eventually forests we'll reach Santo Stefano Quisquina, last village and our destination. The hotel, a comfy four-star, is 3 km out of village. Dinner at hotel.
Another hilly stage. From Santo Stefano di Quisquina we'll ride northwards. All around us prairies, cultivations and pastures. Past Prizzi, we'll head towards Corleone. If you're a fan of the Godfather trilogy, this name will remind you for sure the movies directed by Francis Ford Coppola.The movies were inspired right by this place - Corleone - which has gained notoriety because of the mafia. However, if you speak to the residents of the town, they'll tell you they don't know anyone belonging to that criminal organization. And that the mafia itself doesn't actually exist. And of course the big business of mafia doesn't take place in the small center, where there's a lack of possible business opportunities, but in the big towns, like Palermo. Actually Corleone was the town where the main mafia's families used to live. We don't agree to much with that local way to analyze this very complex organization and have our opinions, which we'll be of course happy to share with you. Past Corleone, we'll ride onto rolling hills through the countryside up to our hotel, situated under the limestone massif of Rocca Busambra, and covered by the biggest forest in western Sicily: the Ficuzza forest. A peaceful place to recover. Overnight and dinner at a Agriturismo.
Short stage on our last day: this would give you some more time to visit Palermo, a really stunning place, you'll agree with us. Left our hotel we'll reach Piana degli Albanesi, considered one of the most important Arbëreshe colonies (decedents of Albanian refugees) in Sicily. Locals maintain the typical traits of Albanian culture, preserving their language, traditions and religion. Piana degli Albanesi is also known for being the best cannoli place, and after tasting this delicacy you will agree with the famous sentence of Peter Clemenza - right-hand man of Vito Corleone in the Godfather - when he said: "leave the gun, take the cannoli". Past Piana degli Albanesi, we'll approach the Palermo area. The hilly landscapes step aside to show us the sea and the coastline. Before reaching Palermo, we'll pass through the village of Monreale, famous for its magnificent Cathedral, a Sicilian masterpiece built during the Middle Age, perfect example of coexistence between Islamic, Byzantine and Romanesque cultures. We are 7 km far from Palermo. Our hotel is situated in the heart of the town. A perfect position to experience a bit of the Sicilian lifestyle, walking through the picturesque markets of Ballarò and Vucciria, tasting the amazing Sicilian street-food and feeling the warmth of this friendly population. Overnight at a 4-star hotel. Dinner not included. A note for those either on the guided or self guided tour: we offer the opportunity to get an extra night at Palermo (check in the 'ON REQUEST' items). And we warmly suggest to take it!
Transfer from Palermo to Palermo airport or Trapani airport (not included in the package price) and end of services.