The largest island in the Mediterranean is arguably the most beautiful and certainly the most dense with history and humanity. Sicily's complex culture is matched only by its stunning natural beauty and the incredible, diverse landscape: rolling hills and valleys swathed in grapevines, miles of aquamarine coastline and a series of archipelagos that can be reached via a quick boat ride. We will pedal back in time to a colorful and enigmatic past that has never left the island. With Tourissimo, you will see (and taste) the real Sicily.
This seductive Mediterranean island has lured conquerors and visitors for centuries. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Normans have all contributed to the many layers of its vibrant culture. We’ll steep ourselves in the sights, scents and flavors of the western part of Sicily, an area less exploited by tourism. We’ll swim in pristine waters, sample the finest wines of the island at a local producer, and learn about the Greek heritage of Selinunte, a stunning waterfront village that is a UNESCO Archeological Site.
Sicily is a region renowned for its Baroque and Norman architecture, for its artistic importance (many poets, writers and intellectuals were born here), and of course, its excellent food!
In addition to its great wines, dinner in Sicily usually consists of vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, artichokes), plenty of seafood, and yes, lots of pasta and olive oil. Its lemons, oranges, figs, almonds and apricots are among the best in the world. In past decades Sicily received attention for its organized crime, and the Mafia became a literary and Hollywood phenomenon. Unfortunately, that is all that some people know Sicily for. True to the Tourissimo Experience brand promise, we will show you a different story. Without hiding the evidence of this scare, we will learn the historical roots of it through the people who, with courage and pride, are winning the battle against organized crime.
Palermo is the cultural center of Sicily and is known for its architecture, which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This morning we’ve planned a “street food” tour through the Capo Market and the Vucciria Market. It doesn’t get more authentic than that! Besides giving an insight into the Sicilian cuisine, our guide provides historical information on the monuments and churches along the walk and shares with us the most intimate secrets of local habits.
We will also go through our shopping list for our dinner. After some free time in the lively city
Corleone - 35 or 46 miles - Steady Climb
Today we start our bike journey, leaving Palermo and traveling into an unexpected, rural Sicily. Orange and olive trees are abundant in the fertile valleys as we transfer to Monreale. In
In the town of Piana
We'll stay overnight at stunning Santa Maria del Bosco Abbaye.
Menfi - 37 miles - Hilly
Today’s panoramic ride involves a gradual descent leaving the Sicani Mountains Regional Park and a short climb just after Lake Arancio, a slice of paradise between Sambuca di Sicilia and Menfi. After crossing several sleepy villages, we will reach the southern Sicily coast. We’ll stop here to swim in clear, blue water and enjoy lunch on the beach. The hotel is just a few miles away (you can ride or finish the ride here and take advantage of the van) and the rest of the day is open to enjoy the relaxed pace of the Sicilian countryside.
Relais Casina Miregia offers great Sicilian hospitality in a beautiful setting. Relax by the swimming pool and enjoy the view before a dinner prepared by our chefs (some of the ingredients are grown within the property).
Belice Valley Loop - 46 or 36 miles - Hilly
Today’s loop ride takes us inland to the ghost town of Poggioreale. This town (and others) was almost destroyed and then abandoned in 1968 due to a violent earthquake. The ruins show a somehow sinister, yet fascinating pre-1968 Sicilian village.
The lush, fertile
The way back to Menfi is a rolling ride with very little traffic and some gorgeous photo opportunities.
Menfi to Marsala - 51 miles - Flat
After our breakfast "made in Sicily", following the Ciclovia of the Southern Coast we’ll arrive in Selinunte, one of the most impressive archeological sites of ancient Greece. In the 6th century, it was a city with 100,000 inhabitants and was one of the most powerful in the world. Today it impresses visitors with its striking waterfront setting. Leaving Selinunte we’ll pedal along golden, sandy beaches to reach Mazara
We’ll have lunch here which will feature the best of the daily catch. There’s a strong
Mozia - 25 miles - Flat
Mozia, originally a colony of the Phoenicians, is a memorable archaeological, natural, and historical site just outside of Marsala. It covers an island situated in a striking location in a kind of shallow lagoon lined with the salt flats and windmills that are characteristic on this stretch of coastline. The island's terrain is flat and
Back on the bikes, we make our way to Nubia. We spend two nights in a Relais in the middle of saline, yet another spectacular setting hand-picked by Tourissimo tour designers.
Mount Erice - 40 or 58 miles - One Long Climb
The province of Trapani is known for its coral, tuna fishing tradition, and wine. We will ride south through the peaceful landscape of saline, which are artificial ponds where salt, a very precious product traded in the Mediterranean since the Bronze Age, is still collected. Salt was a highly valued trade item to the point of being considered a form of currency. Dotted along the salt pans are tiny windmills that were used to grind salt.
From there we’ll ride into a nature reserve and every turn in this network of secondary roads affords stunning views of the Egadi Islands to the West and Erice to the North. We then ride to the top of Mount Erice, at around 750 meters (2,460 ft) above sea level (but you can skip the climb and ride in the van or cable car).
Our celebratory dinner will be in the magical setting of the Antiche Saline.
Sicilian cuisine shows traces of all of the cultures which established themselves on the island over the last two millennia. Although its cuisine has a lot in common with mainland Italian cuisine, Sicilian food also has Greek, Spanish, French and Arab influences. The use of apricots, sugar, citrus, sweet melons, rice, saffron, raisins, nutmeg, clove, pepper, pine nuts, cinnamon (along with fried preparations) is a sign of Arab influences from the Arab domination of Sicily in the 10th and 11th centuries. Normans influences are also found, such as in the fondness for meat dishes. Later, the Spanish introduced numerous items from the New World, including cocoa, corn, peppers, and tomatoes. In Catania, on the east coast, initially settled by Greek colonists, fish, olives, broad beans, pistachio and fresh vegetables are preferred instead. Much of the island's cuisine encourages the use of fresh vegetables such as eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes, and fish such as tuna, cuttlefish, and swordfish. In Trapani, in the extreme western corner of the island, North African influences are clear in the use of couscous.
Sicily is a wine-lover's paradise, such is the variety, complexity and abundance of Bacchus' unique gift! There are 23 DOC zones in Sicily: Alcamo,Contea di Sclafani, Contessa Entellina, Delia Nivolelli, Eloro, Erice, Etna, Faro, Malvasia delle Lipari, Mamertino di Milazzo, Marsala, Menfi, Monreale, Moscato di Noto, Moscato di Pantelleria, Passito di Pantelleria, Moscato di Siracusa, Riesi, Salaparuta, Sambuca di Sicilia, Santa Margherita di Belice, Sciacca and Vittoria. Many grape types are grown, used either in purezza (single grape variety wines), or blended. Some have been around for centuries while others are more recent imports. The following are some of the main varieties: red grapes - Nero D’Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Mantellato, Perricone, Frappato, Calabrese and the more recently introduced Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz (Syrah); white grapes - Cataratto, Grecanico, Grillo, Inzolia, Zibibbo, Damaschino, Trebbiano, Ausonica, Moscato Bianco, Carricante, Corinto Nero and the more recently introduced Chardonnay, Viognier and Fiano. Sicily has the most Slow Food Presidia (local projects) of all of the Italian regions. That means that the island has lots to offer in terms of gastronomical discoveries ranging from greens and vegetables to cheese and artisanal bread. Among a few that we will experience are Trapani Sea Salt, The Menfi Artichoke and the Belice Vastedda that is Italy’s only stretched-curd sheep’s milk cheese.