8 day cycling holiday in Sicily around the highest active volcano in Europe, Mount Etna, which is now protected as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The route runs through the gently undulating landscape at the foot of Mount Etna to medieval and baroque towns. Dark lava stones from Mount Etna's numerous eruptions are visible throughout the landscape. The route follows the less traficed backroads to some of the most important nature reserves in Sicily. Accommodation at small hotels.
The route is mostly flat or with small ups and downs and a few tougher ascents. It is possible to rent an electric bike on this tour.
Arrival at Nicolosi and check-in. Information meeting and hand-over of bikes, route directions and maps.
Today you will do a trip up on the volcano Mount Etna. Take the bus (ticket not included) up to Rifugio Sapienza at 1900 meters altitude (6,233ft). Here you can choose between doing your own walks or joining an excursion higher up on the mountain with a certified guide. The greatest experience is to do a 6 hour guided walk up to the main crater at 3300 meters altitude (10,827ft). In the afternoon get on your bikes to enjoy an easy downhill ride back to Nicolosi. If the weather does not permit trips on the mountain, you can go sightseeing in Catania instead.
From Nicolosi you follow quiet backroads downhill. You'll pass numerous citrus plantations, which Sicily is famous for. Find a small restaurant and enjoy a delicious lunch before you continue to the lava canyons of the river Simetos which can be seen from an old Saracene bridge, which in fact was not built by Arabs but by the Romans. The river has cut through the dark basalt, which is solidified magma from volcanic eruptions from Etna and the canyon sides are up to 5 meters high (16.4ft).
Then it's time to do the final section through pistachio plantations and you will arrive in Bronte after a 5 kilometer climb.
Before leaving Bronte, you might want to check out one of the many pistachio products in the city. Then continue to Maniace, where you can visit the Castello Nelson and the church dedicated to Santa Maria di Maniace. Continue to the old medieval town Randazzo, located at the foot of the Nebrodi mountains. The city is more or less built of dark lava stone.
The route goes from Randazzo along the "Etna Wine Route" to the Byzantine chapel dedicated to Santa Domenica. From the village of Castiglione you have a nice view over the Alcantara valley which separates Etna from the Nebrodi forests. After a stroll around the old town center you head downhill towards the Alcantara river. After a lunch stop in Francaville it's time to visit the Alcantara canyon where the water has eroded the solidified lava and created beautiful gorges. Then you head towards today's final destination, Giardini Naxos, on the Ionian coast.
A short bike ride uphill takes you to Taormina, a gem on the Ionian coast and worth a trip in itself. Here you can visit Castelmola, an attractive medieval town 5 km further uphill. From here you have a nice view over the coast. Back in Taormina you can get on the cable car down to the water at Isola Bella and take a dip in the Mediterranean. Return for another night in Giardini Naxos.
The last cycling day follows the coast, also known as "Lemon Riviera". A stretch of road follows the promenade along the water to the beaches of Marina di Cottone. After the fishing village of Stazzo you will arrive at Timpas steep lava slopes. A short climb takes you to the town of Acireale, and its interesting baroque city center. The tour terminates in Acitrezza, which is the perfect place to visit a fish restaurant overlooking the water.
After breakfast, the tour ends.
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