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May 6th - May 13th, 2017

September 9th - September 16th, 2017 (Private groups only)

October 21st - October 28th, 2017

A Flavorful Mediterranean Bike Journey through Timeless Sicily

Tour designers: Beppe Salerno & Giuseppe Di Giorgio    

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 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 the pristine waters surrounding the Egadi islands, 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! The cuisine in Sicily is different from the rest of Italy because of the various cultures it has been exposed to. 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.

Join us to experience everything Sicily has to offer, and on the special Magnifica Tour departure be prepared for many more surprises and extras. 

Note: 3-day extension available upon request. 

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Find Out More
[fa icon="plus"] Highlights
  • Palermo and its Arab-Norman architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Monreale and its cathedral 
  • Corleone
  • Selinunte ruins
  • Egadi Islands: take a swim in the blue Mediterranean waters, one of the largest marine preserves in Europe
  • Saline near Trapani
  • A lesser traveled, bucolic Sicily 
[fa icon="plus"] Tourissimo Experience
  • Palermo’s amazing Arab-Norman architecture, including 9 buildings recognized by UNESCO
  • Guided visit to Monreale Cathedral 
  • Corleone: the rebirth of an iconic mafia village
  • Wine tasting at Planeta Winery
  • Picnic with Poggioreale Antica inhabitants
  • The Museum Ex Stabilimento Florio on Favignana Island
  • History of salt trading 
  • Unique mix of cultures and influences
  • The slow rhythm of proud people who have experienced many invasions and dominations and have always come out on top
  • Traditional Sicilian cannoli made just for us by Signor Nino 
[fa icon="plus"] Day by Day

Apple_Touch_IconDay 1

Where: Palermo
Terrain: Flat
Ride: 
15 mi or 24 km 
Meals: L, D

One of your guides will meet you at Palermo Airport for a late morning shuttle to your hotel in the city center where everyone will gather for an introduction over lunch at one of the famous open markets. In the afternoon, we will go for a short warm-up ride to test our bikes and to tune into vacation mode. Palermo is the cultural center of Sicily and is known for its architecture, which has just been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. You will get to appreciate this during a walking tour guided by Giuseppe Di Giorgio, a local friend of Beppe Salerno who co-designed the tour. The walk will end with an exclusive access to a noble palace where one of the most iconic scenes of Italian filmography was shot. Dinner will be at one of the best restaurants in town.

Hotel: Massimo Plaza (alternative Centrale Palace)

Apple_Touch_IconDay 2

Where: Ficuzza
Terrain: Hilly
Ride:
25/46 mi or 40/73 km 
Meals: B, L, D

Today we start our bike journey, leaving Palermo and traveling into an unexpected, rural Sicily. Orange, olive and almond trees are abundant in the fertile valleys as we transfer to Monreale. In Monreale we visit the Cathedral, also recognized by UNESCO, and considered the best expression of Norman architecture in Sicily. Monreale is situated on the slopes of Monte Caputo and the ride will afford breathtaking views of the valleys below as we descend. In the town of Piana degli Albanesi we’ll stop to taste the best cannoli in Sicily! Rolling, secondary roads take us to our accommodation near Corleone in the middle of the Sicilian countryside, an area characterized by cultivated fields and Mediterranean scrub. If you’ve read The Godfather by Mario Puzo or seen the blockbuster film of the same name by Francis Ford Coppola, you’ve heard of Corleone. The young Vito Corleone flees to the New World to become the respected man of honor that the Italian immigrants called Padrino (Godfather). After the movie, Sicily became synonymous with the Mafia and omerta, the code of silence.

Hotel: Antica Stazione di Ficuzza

Apple_Touch_IconDay 3

Where: Menfi
Terrain: Rolling
Ride:
51/66 mi or 81/105 km 
Meals: B, L, D

Today’s panoramic morning ride involves a gradual descent and a short climb on the crest of the Sicani Mountain Regional Park. We stop and have a lecture on the history of mafia right in Corleone. Nowadays, we are seeing the rebirth of Corleone where the mob used to rule, thanks to the government and NGOs, and to the new generations believing in a legal alternative (such as tourism). Annalisa, from the Laboratorio della Legalita’ Association, will guide us through an eye-opening exhibit on mafia and its many facets. Upon leaving, a coffee at The Godfather bar is a possible stop. We continue on to Lake Arancio, a slice of paradise between Sambuca di Sicilia and Menfi. After crossing several sleepy villages, we will reach our wine tasting destination, the beautiful Ulmo Wine Estate owned by the Planeta family. The winery lies on the banks of the Lake Arancio in especially beautiful countryside and just a few meters from the 15th century farmhouse which has belonged to the family since then. We will take a tour of the winery and taste the local production, from international grapes such as chardonnay and syrah, to indigenous grapes such as grecanico and nero d’avola. Our hotel is just outside of Menfi. Planeta’s Foresteria is a romantic mix of rural luxury and Sicilian hospitality. Relax by the swimming pool and enjoy the view before a cooking class with a local chef. After the class you will own Planeta’s family recipes, from Sicilian-style pasta with sardines to caponata, from the superb timbale in Ricotta cheese crust to scabbardfish with herbs.  

Hotel: Foresteria Planeta (alternative Relais Casina Miregia)

Apple_Touch_IconDay 4

Where: Menfi
Terrain: Hilly
Ride: 
53 mi or 85 km (shorter and longer options available)
Meals: B, L, D

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 Belice River Valley is home to shepherds who proudly carry on their cheesemaking traditions (Slow food presidia), unwilling to settle for the comfort and opportunities of the coastal towns. What better way to enjoy the day than a picnic with fresh vegetables, crispy bread, and cheese sampling? Our host is Signor Giacinto of Poggioreale Antica. He will tell us about old Poggioreale and his dream of making it an open air museum. In the afternoon we meet Stefano, a young wine maker that with much pride and against all odds has started an interesting production and he is in the process of bringing back the indigenous grapes such as Catarratto (white) and Perricone (red). We will take a tour of the vineyard which is next to the old village of Montevago, also destroyed by the earthquake. The way back to Menfi is a rolling ride with very little traffic and some gorgeous photo opportunities. For dinner, we will transfer along the coast to Porto Palo for a seafood dinner at a restaurant that is known all over Sicily for its mouthwatering seafood dishes prepared with the daily catch such as mussels, sardines, octopus and lobster.

Hotel: Foresteria Planeta (alternative Relais Casina Miregia)

Apple_Touch_IconDay 5

Where: Marsala
Terrain: Rolling
Ride: 
51 mi or 83 km 
Meals: B, L, D

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 del Vallo. It is not a touristy town, but a busy workaday port with the largest fishing fleet in Italy. We’ll have lunch here which will feature the best of the daily catch. There’s a strong north African influence in this town which can be seen in the labyrinth of streets called the Casbah. The eastern half of the island is almost completely flat and very easy to explore by bicycle. Continuing along the Southwest coast of Sicily we reach Marsala. Marsala is located at the westernmost part of Sicily and it is in the Italian history books for the docking of Garibaldi on May 11th 1860. Nowadays, Marsala is best known for its sweet dessert wines. We spend one night in Marsala, a town worth exploring and learning about. 

Hotel: Carmine Hotel

Apple_Touch_IconDay 6

Where: Favignana 
Terrain: Boat and swim day
Ride:
none 
Meals: B, L, D

From Marsala we’ll sail to butterfly-shaped Favignana Island, the largest of the Egadi islands. We’ll learn about the Florio Museum, a former tuna processing plant, and the history of tuna fishing on the island, including the “mattanza,” the traditional ritual of trapping and killing tuna. After taking in the sights we’ll gather at the port and board a boat for a private tour. Around the coast tufa quarries are carved out of the crystal-clear waters. We’ll stop at protected coves to swim in clear, blue water and enjoy lunch on the boat. The rest of the day is open to enjoy the relaxed pace of island life, taking a stroll through the piazzas and small streets or maybe relaxing on the beach! We make our way back to the Sicilian coast via hydrofoil to reach our next hotel. We spend two nights in a Relais in the middle of saline, yet another spectacular setting hand-picked by Tourissimo tour designers.

Hotel: Relais Antiche Saline

Apple_Touch_IconDay 7

Where: Nubia
Terrain: Rolling with one long climb
Ride:
40/58 mi or 64/92 km 
Meals: B, L, D

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 there is also a chairlift option). Our celebratory dinner will be in the magic setting of the Antiche Saline. 

Hotel: Relais Antiche Saline

Apple_Touch_IconDay 8

Where: Nubia
Terrain: Departure
Ride: 
None
Meals: B

After breakfast you will be transferred in private taxis to the Palermo airport according to your travel plans and flight schedule.

[fa icon="plus"] Other Info and Cost

Apple_Touch_IconHow to Get There

Airport/s - Palermo (PMO) 

Other transportation -  Private transfer by Tourissimo from the airport to the first Hotel. Upon request, guests can be picked-up elsewhere (additional cost).

 

Apple_Touch_IconHow to Depart

Airport/s - Palermo (PMO) 

Other transportation - Private transfer by Tourissimo from last hotel to the airport.

 

Apple_Touch_IconTour Level

Recreational/Active/Athletic - Active: 30 to 55 mi a day along flat and rolling terrain. Additional miles available on some days.

 

Apple_Touch_IconClimate Data

In May, temperatures average 16C (62F) low / 24C (75F) max - precipitation probability is 4%.

In September, temperatures average 16C (63F) low / 25C (76F) max - precipitation probability is 4%.

In October, temperatures average 16C (62F) low / 23C (73F) max - precipitation probability is 8%.

 

Apple_Touch_IconTour Program Cost (All-inclusive)

Tour price per person in double room is USD 4,495

Private room surcharge is USD 600

Please contact our office if:

- The tour you are interested in is scheduled to start within 90 days
- You would like to make this tour private 
- You would like to choose your own dates

 

Apple_Touch_IconAll-inclusive Program 

• Bikes equipped with Garmin GPS (choice Bianchi road carbon or hybrid; Ebike for an extra charge)

• Two professional tour guides throughout the program

• All accommodations 

• All breakfasts, all lunches and all dinners

• Wine and beer with meals, coffee, cappuccino, and gelato stops

• Support vehicle during the tour and luggage transfer

• Shuttle at the beginning and at the end of the tour

• All activities mentioned in the day-by-day description

 

Info about food and wine, and Slow Food products

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.

 

[fa icon="plus"] Hotel Highlights
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Foresteria Planeta Menfi (Sicily)

 

RelaisAnticheSalineVistaTorre
Relais Antiche Saline Trapani (Sicily)
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