Barbara and Flavio, two Gravel Carbon and more thousand kilometers of landscapes and breathtaking views along the Sicilian coast. Departing from Venice by plane, after arriving at Punta Raisi they assembled the bicycles and started cycling.

The salt pans of Trapani, Porto Empedocle, the Baroque cities. Then the ascent to Etna, Taormina, all the north coast. Finally a short holiday in Cefalù.
Here is their story and all the GPX tracks of their journey.


Planned transport, accommodation and route we focused on logistical details.

The air travel includes a specific packaging for bikes, in our case two Bottecchia Gravel equipped with luggage carriers, so we inserted them in two cardboard boxes after having disassembled the front wheel, the pedals, the saddle, the handlebar turning it to get into the casing and brought the gearbox in the inner ratio. The space is limited but with method we managed to put in the boxes also two of the four travel bags full of material, including equipment and mechanical spare parts useful for the trip. Two more travel bags were carried on board as hand luggage.

Juggling at the airport with the bulky cart of boxes was inconvenient and several times we had to unload them and recharge them to cross the doors too narrow.

Landed in Palermo and recovered the boxes we left the terminal and just outside, meter in hand, we reassembled the bikes in record time because we had to go immediately to the first stage. The boxes and packaging were left in storage by a friend and kept available for return.


We knew that the approach to the first stage would be difficult not so much for the kilometers but for the sum of time between the journey by car from home to the airport, the flight, the preparation of bikes on arrival, the immediate departure in the hottest hours and the distance to cover.

The very heavy bikes do not allow a high speed and the nervous path with continuous ups and downs has put us to the test. The main places crossed were Cinisi, Terrasini and Castellammare del Golfo with its beautiful panoramic terrace from which you can admire the whole city and the gulf. The journey continued inside the hilly territory until reaching Valderice. Immediately we had the pleasure of ascertaining the extreme friendliness of the residents and the excellent quality of food.

The easy route proved to be correct. From Valderice we went down to Trapani where we saw the “old walls of the tramontana” and the castle of the Colombaia skirting a crystal clear sea, also here friendly meetings with residents. We continue towards Marsala under a scorching sun. In the suburbs attracted by the sign “Alimentari La Pineta” we stopped for lunch. To our amazement the old owner on request prepared us calmly and taking all the time necessary, two sandwiches “Cunzati” with olive oil, cherry tomatoes, olives chopped by hand at the time and tuna, sandwiches big enough to eat them in two distant moments at an affordable price including drinks. Talking with customers told us that the market is very famous in the area for the Cunzati sandwiches. The stage ended in Mazara with a short and relaxing swim in the sea.

Leaving Mazara del Vallo we take the SS 115 South West Sicula which, unlike the local roads, has a road surface in excellent condition, we cross Castelvetrano and continue passing numerous viaducts towards Menfi and Sciacca. The plain is practically absent with continuous ups and downs made difficult by the strong wind, it is often pedalled in territories with low population density but with the sea visible in the distance and expanses of citrus trees in the ripening phase but already perfumed. In Realmonte a natural spectacle that we have been waiting to admire the “Scala del Turchi”. Wonderful white Marna cliff with steps shaped by the always present wind. At first we saw it from the panoramic road, then we could not help but go down to the beach and admire it up close as we were, the only tourists in cycling clothes. The stage ends a little later with the arrival in Porto Empedocle.


Agrigento is a few rides and obviously could not miss a short visit to the Valle dei Templi, a popular destination for all tourists in Sicily and the original nucleus of the city. The Doric temples of the Hellenic civilization are well preserved especially the Temple of Concord, it would take a whole day to visit the whole area.

Leaving the city we cycle in areas with a high density of greenhouses for the cultivation of vegetables that occupy thousands of hectares of land. The sea is still beautiful and we took advantage of a short swim in a deserted beach in the municipality of Licata. In Gela pleasant evening in the company of friends Carmelo and Lucrezia with a visit to the old town.

Already in the early morning the torrid heat is felt, we cycle for several kilometers on a hilly path in rural areas uninhabited mainly agricultural. Once in Scoglitti short stop to hydrate. Our first destination is a small hamlet of Santa Croce Camerina, Punta Secca, called “Marinella” in the famous fiction Il Commissario Montalbano. Here is a photo with the statue of Montalbano in front of his house.

The thermometer in the early afternoon marks 42 degrees, in Marina di Ragusa we took advantage of the showers along the sea and we refreshed from head to foot, clothes including shoes. Time ten minutes and we were already dry. Moving away from the coast we climbed inland until we reached Scicli.

The effort was repaid by the beauty of this baroque town on a human scale rich in dozens of churches and historic buildings. When the trip is over we have chosen it as our favorite baroque city.

The heat is always canicular from the early hours of the morning, left Scicli we stop in Pozzallo where we pass a typical Sicilian cart pulled by a horse and we stop to cool off with a delicious granita and brioche. Our route continues inside, passing Ispica and Rosolini with a stop in the Baroque capital, the city of Noto.  Visit its monuments and churches of color between the golden and pink that pervades the whole city. Reluctantly we leave the country and continue towards Avola to the goal of the day the island of Ortigia the oldest part of Syracuse. The city is famous for being the birthplace of mathematician, physicist and inventor Archimedes. Here is his presumed tomb.

Characterized by huge historical, architectural and landscape riches, such as the necropolis Rupestri of Pantalica UNESCO heritage. The list of monuments is endless, and it would take a stop of several days to visit them all. Between so much beauty, the coast and the sea are no less, full of bays and rocky coves with a crystal clear sea, a refreshing bath is a must. In the evening visit to the many squares and the cathedral. Excellent dinner and sleep early, in view of the challenging stage of approach to Etna the next day.

After Syracuse we expect a stage less rich in historical beauty but more challenging cycling.

Just outside the city we cross the petrochemical pole that occupies part of the territories of Syracuse, Priolo, Augusta and Melilli. The area is industrial and landscaped less interesting. After Augusta the road descends until it finally becomes flat for a few kilometers. Having reached Catania, the chaos of the city has greatly hindered us in reaching the Via Etnea that starts exactly from the city centre with a long and very steep and busy straight where the temperature has touched 40 degrees. The road climbs towards the volcano and we cross the villages of Gravina di Catania and Mascalucia until we reach Nicolosi.

From the center of Catania until the end of the stage (16 km) the road climbs with discontinuous slopes and very hard double digit ramps. The choice to climb Etna with intermediate stage in Nicolosi was perfect because the entire climb goes well over 30 kilometers and it would have been very heavy to face it all at once with our heavy load to carry.


Wake up early in the morning to avoid the great heat despite the starting altitude is 700 meters s.l.m. In the distance you can already see the plume of gray smoke coming out of the mouth of the volcano.

The road starts immediately upwards and very challenging. The first 6/7 km are shaded immersed in a forest of birch, beech and chestnut trees to which we are very grateful for the coolness and not only that we were given. At an altitude of 1500 meters the tree vegetation gives way to vast areas of magmatic lava. Here the road is entirely built over the lava fields, the road surface is sometimes covered with glass volcanic dust that caused a puncture to the rear tire.

After so much effort we reached the refuge Sapienza at an altitude of 1910 mt s.l.m. which is a famous destination, here many tourists almost all motorized, cyclists are very few and the only ones with bags were us. The landscape is lunar with some volcanic cones, in the distance you can see the sea. The satisfaction for having reached one of our goals is great.

Long descent from the side of Zafferana Etnea with road surface made dangerous by volcanic residues. After Giarre we reached Giardini Naxos destination for the day. The city is touristically renowned and crowded.

The Giardini Naxos to Milazzo is long and should be free of great roughness, but the beginning is very nervous with hard tears but the effort is repaid by the road that constantly overlooks the sea and the city of Taormina. After the first 15 kilometers and up to the 70 the road is more pedalable without great differences in altitude. We continue through Letojanni, Roccalumera, Scaletta Zanclea from where we begin to clearly see the coast of Calabria until we reach Messina. In front of the strait and the Statue of Our Lady of the Letter on the Fort of the Holy Saviour, stop in a typical bar on the seafront to eat something, the portions are exaggeratedly large, we should have already learned it, and at low cost. The journey continues passing through Torre Faro and several villages until you reach Milazzo that rises on a narrow peninsula. The port of the city is the ideal starting point to reach the Aeolian Islands (Lipari, Stromboli, Panarea etc.). At the end of the tour a long swim in the wonderful sea of the Riviera di Ponente.

The stage after Milazzo is short, to recover the effort of the previous day. The beginning is in the immediate hinterland of the island and the road is always very fickle with continuous ups and downs.

The journey continues until you see in the distance a beautiful Basilica placed on a coastal promontory, the road rises gently up to a junction where we find the indication to reach the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Tindari, we follow the signs and after a short but hard climb we reach it.  From the square of the Basilica we enjoy a wonderful landscape on the natural reserve of the lakes of Marinello, emerald water mirrors that form a natural lagoon. Access to the area is exclusively pedestrian from the village of Oliveri.

A Patti during the frugal lunch break, pleasant meeting with Salvatore Giordano creator and organizer of the Randonnée Sicilia No Stop, which invited us to participate in the event. We continue on the SS Nord Sicula, in some stretches it is overhanging the crystal clear sea that repays us the effort. The stage ends in Zappardino which is a beautiful village on a human scale. Relaxing afternoon on the pebble beach and long chat with a local fisherman.


The penultimate stage includes the passage to Capo d’Orlando and its famous beaches, keeping the coast on the right and with the sea a short walk we arrived in Santo Stefano di Camastra, famous for its ceramics. Short break to feed in the company of a local elder with whom we spent a nice half hour and told us about his experience as an emigrant in Norway. Last 30 kilometers crossing a stretch of coast full of resorts and five-star hotels.

We arrive at Cefalù, hidden behind a rocky promontory dominated by the Rocca. The medieval old town is a small favor renowned and crowded with tourists all year. Beautiful Duomo and all the context. Here we stop for a few days of deserved rest and discovery of the city, our favorite beach is a small rocky bay little frequented and not equipped called “Kalura”.

After three days of relaxation we depart towards Punta Raisi our final destination of the trip. The road for a change continues with the usual ups and downs except for a little plain near Palermo. In Termini Imerese we visit the site of Himera ancient Greek colony of 650 B.C. and the bridge of San Leonardo of 1600. We continue towards Trabia and Bagheria arriving in Palermo where we stop in the historic center. We visit the Cathedral, the Teatro Massimo, Piazza Pretoria and the beautiful octagonal Piazza “I Quattro Canti”. After so much beauty before leaving the city, recommended by locals, we eat the famous “Iris”, fried doughnuts filled with ricotta cream and chocolate. A very good caloric bomb. Our last Sicilian kilometers we ride them along the coast of Sferracavallo, Isola delle Femmine, Capaci until we reach Marina di Cinisi where we stay at the Eco Solidarity Village “Fiori di campo”so called by the title of a poem by the well-known journalist killed by the mafia Peppino Impastato. The property is a hostel seized from the mafia and made available to travelers with a small contribution. It’s in the immediate vicinity of Falcone and Borsellino airport. The next morning we quickly reach the airport by bike where we take them apart and can them ready for the return.


The trip was beautiful even if very challenging for the morphology of the land without plain and the heat that even in late September was at the limit of endurance. So much effort rewarded by the places crossed and visited. The friendliness and helpfulness of the Sicilians is proverbial, respect and admiration for the few cyclists is remarkable, some told us “you are crazy to do the tour of the island by bike but we value you very much”.  The contrasts between the areas of the island are remarkable. The center south is very arid and dry, is rich in archaeological sites and wonderful Baroque cities, numerous production of vegetables in greenhouses, vineyards and citrus groves. In the North the territory is more lush and green, the Mediterranean is thicker and the temperature is more pleasant. Also the lifestyle is very different between the various provinces. The most chaotic cities and less suitable for the tourism cycle are Catania and Palermo.

Cycling has many facets: there is the agonist, the amateur, the tourist, who seeks performance, who wants to cross the finish line first, who uses it even just to take a ride in the square or to go for a coffee.

Our cycling is traveling, without the hassle of performance, crossing new territories, visiting them, discovering customs and local cuisine. Even just chatting with an elderly man we met by chance on our way is a great personal growth.

The tour of the island measures 1050 km with 8400 meters of ascent. We recommend it to all cycle travelers after a good training.