This route has big contrasts! In few days, you experience the Unesco protected Villa of Casale in Piazza Armerina, inner Sicily’s gorgeous landscape, the Madonie Mountains and the island’s northern coast. You will be cycling through areas where people are interested and friendly. There is little or no traffic at all. You’ll only see an occasional car or tractor, where the driver may be “singing” the goods he is selling. In central and Northern Sicily you’ll have the road to yourself, and it’s undoubtedly here you’ll have your longest and best cycling tours. The last day, the journey towards the Tyrrhenian Sea rewards you for your great effort cycling across the hilly Madonie Mountains. If you enjoy cycling and you are in a relatively good shape, this is a ride you really must try!
FROM INNER SICILY TO THE THYRRENIAN SEA. Cycling from Piazza Armerina to Cefalù
DAY 1. ARRIVAL
You arrive at the Catania airport and take a bus or a taxi to Piazza Armerina. The town was built by the Norman king Wilhelm II in 1163. Wonderful historic center with the dome at the top of the hill. Accommodation will be in a B&B in the city center. Here you will receive bikes and equipment, maps and tour description.
DAY 2. PIAZZA ARMERINA – VILLA DEL CASALE – AIDONE – PIAZZA ARMERINA. 44 KM.
After breakfast you cycle to Villa del Casale. This was a roman hunt castle built in the 3rd and 4th century A. D. The mosaics on the floor are the most outstanding of that period and cover up to 3500 square meters! You continue the ride into the woods towards Aidone. You will find good bar opportunities in the central piazza. Here you can have a look at the archeological Museum where you find the Venus of Morgantina. The statue was made in 400 B. C. You will then ride back to Piazza Armerina, and for the night you will stay at the same B&B.
DAY 3. PIAZZA ARMERINA – PIETRAPERZIA – CAPODARSO – CALTANISSETTA. 54 KM.
You start the day cycling westwards on narrow asphalt roads surrounded by eucalyptus and pinewoods. After a while you arrive to Pietraperzia. In the piazza, you find authentic local life and bar opportunities. Then you’ll be rolling out into the country again and, after some time, you’ll arrive at the magnificent gorge with its bridge crossing the River Salso. You’ll have a fantastic view of the landscape while cycling uphill towards Caltanissetta, the same view as the Greeks had, who lived here about 2,500 years ago. In Caltanissetta, you’ll have several places to enjoy a good break on the piazza. This city has 60,000 residents and is known for its sulfur production. The town’s name come from Kalat-Nissa (meaning the Women’s Castle), after the Arabs that were here in 900 A. D. Caltanissetta lays in the middle of what is called Italy’s durum wheat chamber. You will stay at a B&B near Piazza Garibaldi.
DAY 4. CALTANISSETTA – SANTA CATERINA – RESUTTANO – ALIMENA – BOMPIETRO – CIMPAMPINI. 63 KM.
In the morning, you pass by Caltanissetta’s local market (A strata a’Foglia) to find some snack for the ride. You leave town cycling north between grapevines, almond and olive groves. Along the route there are farms, fields of wild flowers and durum wheat, as far as the eye can see. Continuing upwards, you see Resuttano. Here you still may meet people riding on donkeys, singing out the goods they’re selling, sometimes fresh herbs or even freshly caught snails. In the afternoon, you’ll roll downhill towards the Imera River and back up towards Alimena. This is an excellent little village. Over the hill, you’ll see the enormous Madonie Mountains. The day is almost over: you’ll be dining and overnighting in Cimpapini.
DAY 5. CIMPAPINI – GANGI – PETRALIA SOPRANA – CIMPAPINI. 40 KM.
After breakfast the path goes east along narrow roads. After a while, you’ll reach Gangi, which is considered one of Italy’s most beautiful mountain villages. This town has been inhabited for several thousand years. It’s enjoyable strolling around in the old town, seeing the castle and enjoying a beer at a local bar. You then continue towards Petralia Soprana: this village is located highest in Sicily, with the old part located on 1200 meters. The town is several thousands years old and has been the most strategic on the island, known for its production of durum wheat. In the evening, you return back to Cimpapini, where you will stay over for the night.
DAY 6. CIMPAPINI – GERACI SICULA – CASTELBUONO – CEFALU’. 63 KM.
After breakfast, you’ll leave the farm hotel and continue cycling along a winding asphalt road towards the beautiful mountain village of Geraci Sicula, which lays between the Madonie Mountains. A stop is recommended to enjoy this great view over large parts of the entire island. Then you pass by the town of Castelbuono, also called ‘The queen of the Madonie Mountains’. The place is famous for its manna production. You can stop at the piazza for tasting manna ice cream and cakes. Then, you’ll finally roll downhill along winding roads towards the town of Cefalù. This town has been inhabited for at least 3,000 years. The Norman king Roger built the cathedral in front of the city square in 1131. It’s great sitting in the piazza, enjoying a cup of coffee here. You’ll return the bicycles and equipment. Here you can go for a nice swim, the beach is part of the town!