Headwater - A Taste of Sicily Cycling

11 days
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£2,039
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Trip code: 
C10BS
Way to Travel:
Self-Guided
Activity:
Cycling
Min age:
12

This ten-night, self-guided cycling holiday provides a wonderful introduction to Sicily's south-east, a part of the island renowned for its beautiful, unspoilt coastline, spectacular Baroque architecture and sumptuous regional cuisine.

Your journey takes you along a mix of inland and coastal routes, starting amidst the Baroque splendour of Ragusa and Modica and ending in stunning Siracusa on the east coast. You'll cycle through lush valleys filled with olive trees, almond groves, vineyards and citrus orchards and patchwork puzzles of dry-stone-wall farms.

Highlights

  • Beautiful, unspoilt coastlines; charming fishing villages; rich fertile valleys
  • The ancient Greek city of Siracusa and its enchanting island of Ortigia
  • Superb regional food and excellent Nero D'Avola wines
  • Authentic Baroque architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Inspector Montalbano country - visit the haunts of the famous TV detective
  • Fantastic mix of accommodation, from a hillside masseria surrounded by olive trees to a luxury ***** hotel with two golf courses

Key information

  • 10 nights hotel-to-hotel accommodation
  • All continental breakfasts and 6 evening meals
  • Management by your local Headwater-appointed agent
  • Route directions and maps
  • High quality bikes
  • Luggage transfers between hotels

What's included

  • All accommodation
  • All continental breakfasts and 6 evening meals
  • Management by your local Headwater-appointed agent
  • Route directions and maps
  • High quality bikes
  • Luggage transfers between hotels

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request) Compulsory single supplement.
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

6

Days of Cycling
Terrain:

The majority of the route is tarmac,  with a couple of streches of gravel along the way. Most of the rides are along quiet roads, with a couple of stretches of dedicated cycle tracks.

Day by day breakdown
Day 241.0km/26.0miles
Day 442.0km/27.0miles
Day 647.0km/30.0miles
Day 749.0km/31.0miles
Day 845.0km/29.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here

Itinerary

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Arrive in Ragusa

    Arrive at your luxury **** hotel in Ragusa. (Staying at the De Stefano Palace, Half Board)

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Ragusa to Modica

    You have two excellent choices today. We strongly recommend spending time in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ragusa Ibla - the simply stunning old town of Ragusa - rebuilt in 1693 after a huge earthquake and full of enchanting Baroque architecture, along with a number of tempting cafes and restaurants for lunch. Follow your visit with an undulating cycle through a rich, fertile valley of cacti and pomegranate orchards before freewheeling into the centre of Modica Bassa (the lower part of Modica City). Today's longer option climbs above Modica, skirting Modica Alta (the upper part of the city), before passing quaint, dry-stone-wall farms as you weave your way to Cava d'Ispica - a verdant gorge full of thousands of caves and grottoes, stretching for 13 kilometres between Modica and Ispica! (Staying at the Ferro Hotel, Breakfast only)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    At Modica

    Oft-referred to as the Baroque capital of Sicily, the atmospheric city of Modica sits in a dramatic setting, perched between limestone cliffs. This UNESCO-listed city is home to an impressive 29 churches including two grand Baroque cathedrals, along with charming narrow streets peppered with cafes, restaurants and a number of tempting chocolate shops! Modica's chocolate is one of the Ragusa area's most famous products and to this day it's still made to ancient Aztec methods. Make sure you sample some at Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily! (Staying at the Ferro Hotel, Breakfast only)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Modica to Contrada Piombo

    Start today with a feel-good freewheel through a valley rich in pomegranates, cacti and quaint little farmsteads, on your way to the unmissable little town of Scicli. Overlooked by an imposing rock on which sits the magnificent Church of San Matteo, Scicli, like the other towns in the area, has been totally rebuilt in a pure Sicilian Baroque style following the 1693 earthquake. Wander its atmospheric streets and you'll feel like you're on the set of Inspector Montalbano - Via Mormino Penna is where you'll find the fictional police station from the TV show! Be sure to check out the impressive, hilltop cemetery, just out of town, full of mausoleums and surrounded by magnificent pines and tall cypress trees. Your last stop of the day is the lively town of Santa Croce Camerina, which you'll reach after a scenic cycle through a verdant valley, rich in olive groves. Enjoy a well-deserved drink in one of the piazzas before your final stretch to the ***** Donnafugata Golf Resort, your home for the next two nights. (Staying at the Donnafugata Golf Resort, Half Board)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    At Contrada Piombo

    You could be forgiven for holing up in your luxurious hotel today, enjoying a dip in the pool, a relaxing spa or perhaps a round of golf. There are also a number of pristine beaches nearby (we're particularly fond of the small fishing village of Scoglitti). If you're itching to get out and explore, we recommend following a 19km circular route to the striking Castello di Donnafugata ('the castle of the fugitive woman'), which sits atop a hill overlooking the glistening Mediterranean. The castle allegedly derives its name from the imprisonment of Queen Blanche of Navarre in the C15, who refused the amorous attentions of Count Bernardo Cabrera and was subsequently locked in the castle! Take some time to explore the formal gardens, full of exotic and Mediterranean plants, perhaps enjoying a traditional Sicilian lunch in one of the restaurants. (Staying at the Donnafugata Golf Resort, Half Board)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Contrada Piombo to Marina di Modica

    The unspoilt coastline beckons and today you'll follow an idyllic route along the Mediterranean, taking in a number of charming coastal towns. A real highlight is the small, sun-kissed fishing village of Punta Secca - the home of Inspector Montalbano and the perfect place to stop for a leisurely lunch overlooking the village's powder-soft sands and striking lighthouse. Die-hard fans of the TV detective can even enjoy a drink in the bar opposite his fictional house! Marina di Ragusa, Cava d'Aliga and Sampieri (one of Ragusa's most picturesque fishing villages and another of Montalbano's favoured locations) all offer beautiful sandy beaches where you can stop and take the weight off today. (Staying at the Torre Dantona, Half Board)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Marina di Modica to Portopalo di Capo Passero

    Hugging the coastline again you head to Pozzallo this morning, home to no less than four Blue Flag beaches - why not stop for a morning coffee and dip your toes in the Ionian Sea? Cutting inland you'll cycle through pantani, a series of saltwater lagoons rich in birdlife such as mallards, flamingos, herons and storks, on your way to today's highlight - the Isola delle Correnti (the 'Island of Stream'). The southernmost point of Sicily's mainland, this isolated, seemingly adrift island is also the point at which the Ionian and Mediterranean seas meet. It's quite a sight to behold! (Staying at the Portopalo Suite, Breakfast only)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Portopalo di Capo Passero to Noto

    Today's cycle takes you to the beautiful old fishing village of Marzamemi - one of Sicily's prettiest - with its colourful wooden boats, fishermen's houses and charming buildings such as the Baroque church of San Francesco di Paola. Marzamemi became the centre of Sicily's tuna fishing industry under its Arab influence and it keeps the tradition alive today, using artisanal fishing methods to produce a number of delicacies including canned tuna, smoked swordfish and marinated anchovies! Making your way to Noto you'll head inland on a virtually traffic-free road that winds its way through olive groves, vineyards, almond trees, sugar cane and beautifully perfumed citrus orchards - idyllic surroundings for a picnic lunch. (Staying at the Villa Favorita, Half Board)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    At Noto

    Your hotel is located in a lovely courtyard setting with an outdoor pool and superb views over Noto. If you can tear yourself away from the **** luxury, you could cycle to the nearby seaside resort of Lido di Noto for a lazy day on the beach, or opt for our recommended cycle ride into atmospheric Noto itself. Perhaps the most beautiful of all the cities you visit on this holiday, Noto's current centre was rebuilt after the C17 earthquake and is considered a Baroque masterpiece as well as being an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander down the Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, overlooked by Noto's elegant cathedral, and explore the side streets filled with an array of fine architecture and cafes serving delicious local treats such as the savoury arancini and sweet cannoli. (Staying at the Villa Favorita, Half Board)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 10

    Noto to Siracusa

    What a final day! You'll follow the coast to the stunning city of Siracusa, built on an ancient Greek settlement and boasting a treasure trove of temples, amphitheatres and an ancient castle. On the way you'll cycle through Avola - home of the famous Nero D'Avola red wine grape. You'll also enjoy views of the majestic Mount Etna, and discover Plemmirio, an important area for flora and fauna and whose waters are home to a number of species including tuna, sea urchins, dolphins and sperm whales. After passing the Murro di Porco Cape, a striking landmark in the 1943 Conquest of Sicily, a final stretch takes you along the Bay of Siracusa and into the city itself. (Staying at the Grand Albergo Alfeo, Breakfast only)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Leave Siracusa

    Transfer back to Catania airport, or maybe spend extra nights in the island's second city.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Italy

No visa required for British passport holders.
Please note in Italy it is compulsory to carry ID with you at all times.

Vaccinations

Italy

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

Sicily's typically southern Italian cuisine is interspersed with many more exotic dishes reflecting the island's jumbled cultural past. Italian dishes like pasta alla norma (made with tomatoes, aubergine and grated ricotta) are often found on menus along with couscous (a north African speciality), or even pasta con le sarde (a pasta dish dating back to Phoenician times made from sardines, raisins, pine nuts, fennel, saffron, parsley and capers).
The Arabs introduced citrus groves to the island and a popular drink today is granita made with crushed ice and lemon. This was traditionally drunk with sweet bread dipped in it as a lunchtime snack by Sicilian peasants.
Fish is of course also abundant. Local specialities include pesce spada alla ghiotta (swordfish cooked with tomatoes, capers, onion, celery and potatoes) or tonno fresco alla brace (grilled fresh tuna).
Sicily is famed for its desserts. Why not try cannolo, a crunchy pastry tube filled with ricotta cheese and studded with candied fruits, pistachio and chocolate? Or cassata, the Arab influenced cake made with ricotta cheese, candied fruit and chocolate pieces.
Sicily is not traditionally famous for its wines, so it is surprising to learn that the island boasts one of the largest wine producing areas in the whole of Italy. Look out for the Etna DOC label and Corvo di Salaparuta. One of Sicily's most popular wines is Alcamo Bianco - a soft white which goes well with fish dishes.

Weather

Sicily has a good all year round climate, with plenty of sunshine and warm/hot temperatures. The summer departures ought to have daily hot sunshine and temperatures can reach 30 to 35 degrees Celcius. The earlier and later departures are likely to be cooler with a slightly higher chance of rain. In late summer there is the possibility of heavy thunderstorms, but these are usually short-lived.

Is this trip for you?

Cycling Conditions
Classification
: Self-Guided
Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/moderate)
Average daily distance: 45.1km (28.5miles)
No. of days cycling: 6
Terrain and route: The majority of the route is tarmac,  with a couple of streches of gravel along the way. Most of the rides are along quiet roads, with a couple of stretches of dedicated cycle tracks.
Vehicle Support: This is a self-guided trip for those who prefer to cycle independently, but with our assistance to take out the stress of the logistics and planning. We arrange your accommodation, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There maybe others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The routes notes contain a 24-hour emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the hotels are normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

You'll stay in a wonderful mix of accommodation including a lovingly restored, hillside masseria surrounded by olive trees, a charming villa hotel boasting fabulous views over Noto from its outdoor pool and terrace, a minimalist design hotel in the centre of bustling Portopalo and a luxury ***** hotel set in acres of grounds, complete with two golf courses. Given the wonderful local cuisine on offer, including such Sicilian specialities as Pasta alla Norma and Pasta con le Sarde, we've included six evening meals on this holiday, leaving you free to dine out on the remaining nights.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Embracing a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge, but if you’re going to keep it up there’s got to be more to it than

  • Reviewed September 2018
    Peter Morris

    The perfect holiday break

    Well if you want sunshine, interesting history, architecture, good food, great travelling companions and a highly knowledgeable and competent leader and support team, this may indeed be the one to go for! Others on the trip who had gone on many cycling holidays rated this the tops. It helped that the group were all around the same standard, but what was noticeable was the friendly support given by the more experienced cyclists to anyone having problems. And it was hot! Again care was taken with frequent water stops and a full briefing as to what was ahead. Just good fun all week. See pics from trip on https://flic.kr/s/aHsmrP5CfE

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cookery lesson making pasta Swimming in pool after a 56k cycle Lunch in Ortigia market Drivers stopping to let our group of 14 cross. Paddling on the beach Bikes on cobbles in Ortigia Harbour Sunset in Siricusa First Granita Limone First Arancinithe size of lightbulb Seeing Mount Etna Group co-operation and fun. Realising only used half the electric bike battery on hardest day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Iris was the best! Competent, friendly, full of historical and recent local knowledge, consistently cheerful with a wry sense of humour, and had clearly thought through all of the tour details. Always offered options on eating or stops (although we trusted her judgement much more than our own, and benefited from that). Great care taken on tricky sections, and we had no accidents. The support team were great too, so any bike issues were quickly resolved.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go for it. But bring a gel saddle. And rehydrating salts.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Some of the hotels were a bit variable in quality, with no fresh juice (in Sicily??) dangerous electrics (a shower which went straight on to an electric socket) or no bar. Hard beds also seemed common.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Call us on 020 8772 3936