A transfer has been arranged to meet the arrival of the 16.15 flight at Palermo airport (please see the Joining Information), and take you to your hotel, spectacularly situated above Castellamare del Golfo.
Today is free to explore the area. We suggest spending the day discovering the pristine Zingaro nature reserve on foot. The reserve was the first of its kind in Sicily , there is a network of narrow paths throughout which are well maintained and marked. The area is a nesting territory for dozens of bird species such as peregrine falcons, bonelli's eagles, buzzards, kestrels, kites and many others, including several endagered species. The reserve is also an oasis of biodiversity, rich in rare native plants such as dwarf palms (the symbol of Zingaro). We recommend leaving time in the early evening for a pre-dinner aperitivo in the tiny Moorish village of Scopello - it is a gorgeous jumble of cobbled lanes and alleys radiating off the central square with fantastic sea views.
Today you will have your first gentle ride along pine-scented roads dotted with pink bougainvillea before an exhilarating whizz to Castellamare del Golfo, a popular Italian seaside resort with a broad sandy beach. Leaving the sea behind, you cycle inland climbing through an enchanting landscape of swaying vines, palms and citrus groves to reach Segesta with its stunningly preserved 2,500 year old Doric temple with breathtaking sea views. You then cycle onto Signor Di Vito's lovely farmhouse hotel. There will be time for a drink on the rooftop terrace before dinner.
Ride Approx. 43km.
Almonds, olives and oranges are farmed by our hotelier in this wonderfully warm climate and the oils are used for massages at the hotel - a perfect excuse to ease any aching muscles! It would be very easy to spend the day at the hotel next to the pool, shaded by aleppo pines, palm trees and surrounded by citrus, marigolds and bougainvilla. However, we also suggest taking a trip out to nearby Monte Cofano Nature Reserve. The triangular peak of Monte Cofano is a distinctive sight and used to act as a guide for Phoenician ships sailing to Palermo. The landscape feels vaguely African, dotted with fig, carob and lentisk trees. Here you will find the Grotta Mangiapane - an incredible cave containing a rural hamlet complete with chapel and cobbled street, it attests to the presence of civilisation in the area dating back to Paleolithic times. The cave is 80m high and 70m deep and is named after a family that lived within it from the 19th Century to the end of World War II. There is also a fantastic beach at Custonaci.
Your ride this morning climbs gently out of Buseto, with breathtaking views of the three Egadi islands as they glimmer on the horizon. You then cycle downhill virtually all day passing through a string of tranquil hamlets before reaching a beautiful flat stretch next to the sea leading to our baglio. The hotel is set in the unique landscape of the Riserva Naturale Saline. The backdrop is stunning with piles of glistening salt crystals sparkling the sun like crystals with the Egadi Islands behind. The sunsets are simply breathtaking. The salt pans are also a haven for wildlife and many birds can be spotted such as osprey and peregrine falcon. If you are lucky you may spot flamingos bathing vividly in the warm waters. The restaurant is fantastic and the dining area adds to the atmosphere.
Ride Approx. 34km.
Mediaeval Erice makes a perfect day trip today. Founded by the Elymnians in ancient times, the town was known as Eryx. It was reputed to be an important religious site, associated with the goddesses of fertility from the Carthaginian Astarte and Greek Aphrodite to the Roman Venus. Over the centuries power of the town has passed between the Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs and Normans. The town itself is a tangle of cobbled streets and hillside alleys, which are lovely to wander aimlessly around, soaking up the atmosphere and the views of the Mediterranean and Trapani. At the top of the town stands the Castello di Venere, the 12th Century Norman castle, dedicated to Venus. The town is the perfect place to enjoy an icy granita, flavoured with fresh lemons or mint, in the bustling piazza. For a lazier day, our hotel has a gorgeous pool nestled in verdant vines.
After breakfast you will start pedalling inland through a delicately perfumed landscape of melon groves, vines and palm dates before reaching the coast again. You could savour a fresh fish lunch al fresco in the salty sharp air before taking a wooden boat to fascinating Mozia on the tiny island of San Pantaleo. The ruins are of a strategic Phoenician settlement dating back to 1300 BC. It is then an easy cycle along the seafront to reach Marsala, which boasts a very pretty historic centre which is lovely to wander around. There should be time to try the eponymous sweet wine before dinner!
Ride Approx. 46km.
Favignana, the largest and flattest of the Egadi islands, is just a short ferry hop away. It is a cyclist's paradise with pine-scented tranquil lanes leading to secret coves and archaeological ruins. The main town has the same name and is quite a bustling place with a selection of bars, restaurants and shops. There is also a lovely piazza and church. There are lots of choices for lunch in the bustling harbour-side town. The island is most famous for its idyllic beaches and azure waters, the southern coastline has the best sandy beaches. There is also plenty to discover back in Marsala. The Piazza della Repubblica is the heart of the city around which most of the town's historical sites are located. The cathedral, dedicated to St Thomas Becket of Canterbury, is here which was only completed in 1956, having been started in 1628! The historic centre has a colourful food market every morning which is great to wander around.
A transfer has been arranged to take you back to Palermo airport, see the Joining Information for more details.