That of Etna, is not only the story of Europe’s highest active volcano, but also that of Eastern Sicily. A bike trip in inland Sicily, in the shadow of Etna and among natural parks of remarkable beauty, is a journey through history and mythology, rediscovering ancient villages and lost flavors.
This tour of medium difficulty, will allow you to visit Taormina, the pearl of the Ionian Sea, the medieval towns of Randazzo, Castiglione di Sicilia, which lies in the beautiful Alcantara Valley, and Acireale, the elegant Baroque city.
You will visit some of Sicily’s most important natural parks, including Etna Park, Alcantara Park, and the Forre Laviche del Simeto Nature Reserve. The tour is designed for those who intend to travel independently, but also want a range of services to make their cycling vacation comfortable and unique.
See other itinerary in Sicily (The “Baroque tour” – Tour of Western Sicily and the natural reserve)
DAY 1: Nicolosi
Arrival and accommodation in Nicolosi, delivery of bikes and information material.
DAY 2: Etna – Nicolosi 20 km
By public bus or private transfer upon request you will reach the Sapienza refuge, the starting point for organizing an individual visit to Etna. Once the visit is over, you will return to Nicolosi by bicycle descending the beautiful road that winds along 1200m of elevation gain. In case of inclement weather, you will be able to visit, by public bus, the historic center of Catania.
DAY 3: Nicolosi – Bronte 49 km
Leaving Nicolosi and pedaling on secondary roads almost always downhill, you reach the Nature Reserve “Forre laviche del Simeto,” or gorges carved by the Simeto between lava flows, where you will also find the famous “Ponte dei Saraceni,” dating back to Roman times. Immense expanses of pistachio groves announce the imminent proximity of Bronte, a town at the foot of Mount Etna, famous for its ‘green gold’. Overnight in a feud surrounded by the characteristic pistachio trees.
DAY 4: Bronte – Maniace – Randazzo 30 km/36 mi.
Along a scenic provincial road that stretches into the Nebrodi Park and leaving Bronte behind, you will soon arrive in Maniace, where you can visit the famous Nelson Castle and the former Norman abbey of St. Mary of Maniace. Resuming the route, still on minor roads, you will finally arrive in Randazzo, an interesting and rich historic center of medieval origin.
DAY 5: Randazzo – Castiglione – Alcantara Gorges – Giardini Naxos 44 km
Today’s easy stage in terms of elevation will take you to the famous “Etna wine road,” along which you can visit numerous wineries. Don’t miss the historic center of Castiglione di Sicilia from where you can see, in the distance, our next destination, the Alcantara Valley that separates Etna from the Nebrodi and Peloritani mountain ranges.
Giardini Naxos, Sicily’s first Greek colony, is the final destination of today’s leg, and it is here that you will finally enjoy a rejuvenating swim in the beautiful waters of the Ionian Sea.
DAY 6: Giardini Naxos – Taormina – Giardini Naxos 20 km
A short ride of a few kilometers will take you today to Taormina, the pearl of the Ionian Sea, a charming town perched on a hill that has seduced writers, poets and travelers for centuries. You will also have the opportunity to visit Castelmola, a beautiful medieval village located about 5km from here continuing the ascent from Taormina; an ideal place to enjoy views of the enchanting gulf, Calabria beyond the strait and the smoking volcano. Return to Giardini Naxos.
GIORNO 6: Giardini Naxos – Taormina – Giardini Naxos 20 km
Una breve pedalata di pochi chilometri vi condurrà oggi a Taormina, la perla dello Jonio, una cittadina di grande fascino, arroccata su una collina, che ha sedotto scrittori, poeti e viaggiatori per secoli. Avrete inoltre la possibilità di visitare Castelmola, bellissimo borgo medievale situato a 5km circa da qui continuando la salita da Taormina; posto ideale per godervi la vista dell’incantevole golfo, della Calabria oltre lo stretto e del vulcano fumante. Rientro a Giardini Naxos.
DAY 7: Giardini Naxos – Acitrezza 37 km
This is a quiet and relaxing stage that will allow you to ride along a unique stretch of the Ionian coast called ‘The Riviera of Lemons’. Here, on the slopes of Mount Etna, you can soak in the unique scent of orange blossom, from the flowers of the lemon and orange trees that abound in this area, and that of the sea. The Timpa climb, about 2km long, heralds the imminent arrival in Acireale and its beautiful Baroque-style historic center. The stage ends in Acitrezza.
DAY 8: Acitrezza – Catania
After breakfast, individual departure.
– For the individual excursion to Mount Etna with mountain guides by cable car and Jeep, hiking shoes and warm clothing in spring and fall are required.
– For high season departures (mid-June through late August) you may find heavier traffic on the stages along the coast.
– Nicolosi/Etna stage: possibility to climb to Rifugio Sapienza by bike or by private transfer organized from the B&B to Nicolosi: € 25 p.p./min. 2 People. It is also possible to go up to the Rifugio by public bus but it does not accept bikes.