The West coast of Sicily saw invaders for millenia. The Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Normans coveted its rich fishing grounds, hilltop vineyards and coastal salt pans, which all influenced the landscape and culture of the area. Even the British have left their mark, with 18th-century entrepreneurs attracted here and made their fortune with Marsala, one of the most famous sweet wines in the world.
“Sicily has suffered thirteen foreign dominations from which it has taken both the best and the worst. The sequence of different cultures has made Sicily a fascinating place, quite unlike any other."
Total distance: 431km
total elevation: 6,341m
Duration: 8 days
difficulty level: Enthusiast
Arrival at Palermo or Trapani airport, transfer (not included)to accommodation in Castellammare del Golfo at a three-star hotel. Dinner not included.
Stage with medium difficulty level. Left Castellammare del Golfo, our route features a continuous up and down for about 30km. Then a long and spectacular hairpin climb will take us to the small village of Erice, considered as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. A cappuccino break in Erice is mandatory, especially when accompanied by a local specialty like the Genovesi cookies. Tasty, right? After this sweet break, we'll descend to Trapani, one of the most important towns in Sicily, and famous for the centuries-old marine salt production. Our hotel is not far from there, and in the last 6km of our ride, we can take a chance to admire the stunning salt pans of the natural reserve of Trapani and Paceco, visit the Museum of Salt and learn about the "white gold" that drove the local economy for hundred years. Overnight and dinner at a four-star hotel at Saline di Nubia (Trapani).
Out of Castelvetrano we'll keep exploring the wildest areas of western Sicily, through the hilly countryside of the Belice Valley, for us cyclists a region where scenic roads go through vineyards, but historically an area of great interest, as it was totally destroyed by an earthquake in 1968. We'll see around us the indelible signs of that disaster either in the landscapes and in the memories of the local population: from the small village of Partanna, and for the next 30 km we'll mostly encounter ghost villages, aside the ever present vineyards and pastures. Noteworthy, the suggestive Cretto di Burri (or Cretto di Ghibellina): a huge land artwork, built as a form of memorial on the ruins of the town of Gibellina and conceived by the artist Alberto Burri, that has followed the former street plan covering the village with a white concrete maze....it is a sort of concrete labyrinth, which, seen from above, is similar to the maze of lies in which the judges had to orient themselves to find the thread of the investigation" - Alberto Burri Past this artwork, our ride will continue through the vineyards of Belice, crossing the important wine towns of Poggioreale, Salaparuta, Santa Margherita del Belice up to Sambuca di Sicilia, our destination. A day rich in culture ends in a comfortable accommodation at Sambuca di Sicilia. Overnight and dinner at a four-star hotel.
Today we'll face a demanding stage in one of the wildest area of the island, very poor in settlements. And during our ride, we will encounter only two villages. Left Sambuca di Sicilia we'll ride on a continuous up and down across the Sicani Mountains up to Chiusa Sclafani, a small village active in the cherries production (capable of 3800 quintals/year), but also rich in more typically Mediterranean products like olives and peaches. Up and down again to Palazzo Adriano, a village founded in the XV century by Albanian emigrants and known for being film set of Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, the masterpiece of Giuseppe Tornatore which won an Oscar in 1990. Nothing more fascinating than having a break right there! Maybe with cappuccino and "cuddureddi" - a sweet pastry characterized by a filling of cooked wine and almonds. So much tasty! Past Palazzo Adriano, nature becomes the unique protagonist, and riding through pastures, cultivated fields and eventually forests we'll reach Santo Stefano Quisquina, last village and our destination. The hotel, a comfy four-star, is 3 km out of village. Dinner at hotel.
Transfer from Palermo to Palermo airport or Trapani airport (not included in the package price) and end of services.