2016 features two new options in Sicily and we checked in with Bea Tassinari, our Italian Country Coordinator, to see what she loves about the new 8-day Bicycling the Baroque Towns of Southeastern Sicily itinerary.
What are some of the towns we’ll explore along the way?
Our cycling adventure takes you on a zigzag journey from Syracuse (Siracusa) to the southernmost point of Sicily, Capo Passero. Along the way we traverse several UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Baroque town of Ragusa in the Val di Noto. The trip ends in the delightful town of Scicli not to far from the coast.
What is special about the Baroque architecture in this area?
Val di Noto is on the UNESCO Heritage list in part because of the distinctive form of Baroque architecture or “il Barocco Siciliano” found in its small towns. This architectural style emerged on the island after the massive earthquake in 1693. The style continued into the 18th century and is recognizable not only by its typical Baroque curves and flourishes, but also by its grinning masks and cherubs in a style that has given Sicily a unique architectural identity.
You’ve been to the island several times on vacation what keeps you going back?
I think that the beauty of Sicily is enhanced by the pride of the local people known as “I Siciliani.” They make the experience wonderful because they are so welcoming and do their utmost to win the opinion of visitors. It’s hard not to be impressed with the “eccellenze” or excellence of the land, its history, culture and people.
What sights do you recommend before or after the bike trip?
Before the trip you should certainly come a few days early and visit Catania and the Etna area. Catania’s main square has many highlights including the playful lava stone Fountain of the Elephant; Castello Orsino, home to the Civil Museum; Monastero di San Nicolo’ the seat of the Department of Humanities (DISUM) at the University of Catania.
Then head to Mount Etna, “la madre nostra” our mother, with its villages around its slopes, Randazzo, Bronte, Giarre, all are easy to reach with a local old style train, called la littorina dell’Etna.
After the trip I recommend that you continue your exploration of Sicily and join us to Cycle Southwestern Sicily’s Ancient Mediterranean Cities! To make it simple we’ve included a shuttle to Agrigento where the ride begins just a day later!
What are 5 things that excited you about the new option to cycle in Eastern Sicily?
- Siracusa with its Teatro Greco built in the 5th century BC.
- The sheer number of tiny and panoramic secondary roads.
- Spectacular views of both sea and caves along the small roads.
- Fields of vegetables and olive trees! Harbingers of amazing food.
- Historic stone villages perched on green hillsides – absolutely gorgeous.
Here is a preview of some of the towns and architecture you’ll see as you cycle across Eastern Sicily!