Glorious Gravel

Off:Roader SICILIA

four stages | 425km

Nights

5

Stages

4

Difficulty

4/5

PRICE FROM

£1549

Nights

5

Stages

4

Difficulty

4/5

PRICE FROM

£1549

OVERVIEW

HIGHLIGHTS

ACCOMMODATION

GETTING THERE

PACKING LIST

FAQs

OVERVIEW

Get set for an adventure as we take you on a new route exploring the natural beauty of Western Sicily. Winding through some of the most remote parts of the west of the island, you’ll discover stunning sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, historical towns and delicious food. Expect cultural diversity with Greek, Roman, French, Spanish and Italian, as well as beautiful Arab influences dominating the landscape.

 

Sicilian gravel is unique and unlike gravel on our other trips. In the 1950s, many of the country’s interior gravel roads were paved over. However, since then, many of those roads have been abandoned and left to nature. As such you get a patchwork of smooth and bumpy asphalt, glorious, smooth gravel, short rocky and technical off-road sections, and broken road, also known as “strade sterrata”.

Included in Ride Package

Accommodation

5 nights in a range of small 3* & 4* hotels. Choose private single, shared twin or shared double rooms.

Airport Transfers

Fly into Palermo (PMO), our team will be on hand to collect you & drop you back off on departure day.

4 Epic Stages

Full ride support with guides leading small groups, van support & regular feed stops.

Meals

Bring some money for drinks but our package includes 5 dinners, 4 lunches & 5 breakfasts.

Checkpoints

Feed stops with mechanical support approx every 35km with local food & drink..

Luggage

We move your overnight bags from hotel to hotel each day and provide a day bag to collect at lunch.

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED: Flights, Insurance (mandatory), Drinks with evening meal

REAL RIDER REVIEWS

ITINERARY

DAY 1

Arrival in Palermo, transfers at 10.30am or 3.45pm to Scopello (50 min journey).

DAY 2

Stage One: Scopello to Erice - 75km, 1800m elevation. 50% off road.

DAY 3

Stage Two: Erice to Menfi - 138km, 1150m elevation. 50% off road.

DAY 4

Stage Three (Queen Stage): Menfi to Corleone - 104km, 2150m elevation. 55% off road.​

DAY 5

Stage Four: Corleone to Castellammare del Golfo - 110km, 1900m elevation. 50% off road.

DAY 6

Departure day, transfers leave at 7.45am for flights after 11am & at 11am for flights after 1.30pm

RIDE HIGHLIGHTS

Incredible food

Both savoury and sweet delights that vary from region to region and even town to town. Arancini, Cannoli, Pasta alla Norma, Pane Cunzato, Caponato, Panelle, Cassata and Frutta Martorana are some of the treats to try.

stunning landscapes

From the crystal clear waters along the coast to the rugged mountains inland, the Sicilian landscapes are as varied as they are beautiful. We take you off the beaten track amongst the colourful and wild flora and fauna.

Tranquility

Our accommodation on is mostly in remote and peaceful locations with stunning views. A swim, an Aperol Spritz at sunset and fine dining at the Masseria del Carboj, set in a vineyard and olive grove, is a particular highlight.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Broken roads

The route is a real mix of terrain from pristine gravel to back roads and cycle paths, rocky and technical off road and typical Sicilian broken road.

Wider tyres

The route is designed for gravel bikes but with the mix of gravel, broken roads & some technical off road sections, we recommend at least 42mm all-rounder tyres.

REMOTE ROUTE

We head into very remote sections of Sicily where we see very few people for hours. Beware of sheep dogs in places, we will advise on these sections.

Bring your climing legs

Get your climbing legs ready as every day has some beautiful climbs and rolling hills. The views from the summits are breathtaking and worth the effort!

7 UNMISSABLE HIGHLIGHTS IN SICILY

NUMBER One

Erice: Historic town with amazing views

On stage one we leave the coast and finish near the beautiful medieval town of Erice. To get here we climb from sea level to 600m but are rewarded with epic views of this corner of Sicily, two castles and ancient city walls dating back to the Phoenicians. A classic, lively Sicilian hilltop town with some amazing history.

NUMBER TWO

Zingaro Nature Reserve: Stunning riding by the Med

Just outside of our start village, Scopello, is the wonderful Zingaro Nature Reserve with some excellent hiking, remote beaches and stunning views. For those that arrive early on the 21st, we will head out for a short walk in this area before our welcome dinner.

number three

Quite villages: the soul of Sicily

The best way to understand a place & it's culture is through it's quiet villages away from the tourists. Our route is almost entirely off the beaten track and we roll through dozens of sleepy villages to catch a glimpse of real Sicilian life. Our feed stops are at local cafes and lunch is at local restaurants eating proper local food in each region.

Number Four

Ice Cream: The ultimate feed stop treat!

After (or even during) a hot & hard ride, is there anything better than an ice cream waiting for us at the feed stop? Sicily is one of the best places in the world for the stuff, choose between delicious flavours or try a local Granita - even more refreshing on a hot day.

Number five

Rural Trails: Pure Escapism

While the coastline of Sicily is spectacular, it's the hinterland and hill country which really makes the country special. Gravel cycling is the best way to experience this with long gravel or broken roads snaking through stunning scenery. Expect to see plenty of farmers out tending their sheep, wildflowers, interesting rock formations and plenty of glorious viewpoints.

Number six

Corleone: Stage finish & start in the famed hilltop town

Our stage finish on stage three & start on stage four is the famous hilltop town of Corleone. This fascinating place will always be linked to the Godfather (though it wasn't filmed here) but it's a lively town home to 11,000 people with some great local restaurants and bars (if you have any energy after the queen stage).

Number seven

Scopello: Sicily's best kept secret

Our first stop on the whole tour is the glorious seaside village of Scopello. You could not get a better introduction to Sicily than this charming place with its ancient courtyard filled with cafes, stunning views of the med, walks in Zingaro and the beautiful Tonnara where you can swim in the sea and feel every bit a stylish local.

STAGE DETAILS

Route Summary:

We begin our journey in Scopello, one of Sicily’s most beautiful coastal villages. An idyllic place, it also provides the perfect start to your gastronomic tour of the country. Try the simple but tasty pane cunzato, a local, traditional tomato, herb and olive oil sandwich, before we set off towards the medieval hilltop town of Erice.

 

Enjoy stunning views of the sea from the tops of today’s climbs, and get close to the rugged Monte Cofano coastline. Colourful wildflowers line the stunning gravel paths and we pass working marble quarries. You have the opportunity to visit the pre-historic Mangiapane grotto and village, which offers a fascinating insight into a way of life that was still in existence until the 1950’s. Take some cash (€3) if you want to enter and walk around.

 

Then it’s back to the coast and Cornino Beach, before heading inland and upwards to over 600m above sea level, to the historic town of Erice. The town has an imposing presence and can be seen for miles before you arrive. Explore town before riding to our spa hotel and home for the night.

 

Ride Distance: 75km   Ride Elevation: 1800m   % Off Road: 50%   Difficulty: 4/5

Route Summary:

A long but relatively flat day today. We climb up out of our accommodation before exploring more of the rugged inland gravel paths, broken road and quiet back lanes. We eventually reach the sea and ride a fun gravel and sandy section right beside the aqua blue water of the Mediterranean Sea. We couldn’t resist a dip near Mazara del Vallo, the water just looks so inviting!

 

From the sea, we head inland on a mix of broken and quiet roads, past vineyards, all the way to our accommodation, set above Menfi on a peaceful vineyard and olive grove.

 

Ride Distance: 138km   Ride Elevation: 1,150m   % Off Road: 50%   Difficulty: 3.5/5

Route Summary:

Today is our Queen stage, so get your climbing legs ready! We hit a wild and overgrown cycle path just outside Menfi which eventually turns to gravel before it hits the coast. You can never tire of these views and the gorgeous clear water!

 

It’s time to hit the punchy and stunning gravel to climb up towards Sambuca di Sicilia, considered the jewel of the Sicani region of Sicily. Look out for the sambuco plant (elderberry), which is common in the valley below the town. After the quaint village of San Carlo, we’re off on the gravel again, with another leg snapper of a climb and some more rolling hills before our final broken road climb and a stunning descent into Corleone.

 

Ride Distance: 104km   Ride Elevation: 2,150m   % Off Road: 55%   Difficulty: 4.5/5

Route Summary:

Our final day’s riding is not to be underestimated! We hit the gravel early today, not far out of town. Beginning on a section of the Magna Via Francigena, a MTB and gravel track that retraces the old communication route which, until recently, was used by the Romans to move from Palermo to Agrigento passing through the interior of Sicily. This is a really rural and wild part of the country which is as charming as it is beautiful.

 

We cut across to the forest as we take on the shaded gravel tracks of the Bosco della Fucuzzo. Our route heads onwards to Piana degli Albanese, which has many Albanian influences, as well as the most delicious cannoli. Then we wind around the bright blue waters of Lago Poma before heading back to the coast for our final night by the sea and a celebratory Aperol Spritz at sunset.

 

Ride Distance: 110km   Ride Elevation: 1,900m   % Off Road: 50%   Difficulty: 4/5

ACCOMMODATION

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PACKING LIST

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GETTING THERE

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Flights

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Transfers

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Outbound

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Your Guides

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Rental Bikes

Some Brand

Some Model

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getting to sicily

Fly Into: Palermo (PMO)

 

Direct Flights From: Only London I’m afraid. Easyjet fly from Gatwick, Ryanair from Stanstead and BA (on some dates) from Heathrow.

 

Transfer Times:

  – Monday 21 October: Arrival Transfers at 10.30am for arrivals at Sicily Palermo Airport before 10am; and 3.45pm for arrivals before 3pm. The transfer takes approximately 50 minutes.
 – Saturday 26 October: Departure Transfers at 7.45am for departures after 11am; and 11am for departures after 1.30pm. The transfer takes approximately 30 minutes.


First Town / Hotel if you want to come earlier: Hotel Baglio Di Scopello

Accommodation & Meals

The hotels in Slovenia are a good standard. We stay in a mix of superior 3* and 4* hotels. Choose between a single, shared twin or double room. You can add your preferred room mate in the booking notes.

 

In Kranjska Gora & Bohinj the hotels overlook the mountains & lake. Our hotel in Lipica is world famous for it’s white horses and we finish overlooking the Adriatic. Luggage is transferred from hotel to hotel & bike boxes are transferred from Bled to Portoroz on the first afternoon.

 

Evening meals are buffets with pasta, salads, meat & vegetables. Lunches at feed stops are local restaurants as we try some of the local delicacies. Vegan, gluten free and other dietary options are available.

packing list

Cycling Kit

Bibs/shorts | Jerseys/tops (consider LS t-shirts for cooler temperatures)

Gilet | Waterproof jacket | Arm warmers

Cycling shoes | Socks | Mitts

Helmet | Sunglasses

2 bottles | Chamois cream | Sun cream

GPS device with handle bar mount

Bike spares

2 x inner tubes suitable for the size of your tyre

Spare tyre | Tyre levers

1 x puncture repair kit (if running a tubeless set up, have a tubeless repair kit including plugs and spare sealant)

Multitool | Chain link specific for your bike chain

Spare rear mech hanger for your bike

Small pump | Rear light

Spare batteries/charging cables for lights

 

Personal Medical kit

1 x crepe roll bandage | Gauze or similar absorbent dressing

Small set of scissors | Tweezers | Pain Killers (paracetamol)

Steri-Strips | Antiseptic (spray, cream or wipes)

Assorted plasters | Rubber gloves | Prescribed medication

Hotels & Meals

We stay in a mix of 3* & 4* small, family run hotels. The quality is generally very high but variable by night as we stay in small towns / villages in remote areas.

 

Breakfast is at the hotels each morning. Lunch is at local restaurants on the route (we have local food – expect pasta, soup, stews etc) and then dinners are either at the hotel or at a local restaurant nearby.

 

Choose between a private single room, shared twin room (2 beds) or shared double room (1 bed). We stay at:

 

Scopello – Baglio di Scopello ***

Erice – Hotel Parco Degli Aromi Resort & SPA ****

Menfi – Masseria del Carboj ****

Coreleone – Hotel Leon d’Oro ***

Castellamare del Golfo – Hotel La Battigia ****

DATES & PRICES

START

FINISH

SINGLE ROOM

TWIN/

DOUBLE ROOM

DEPOSIT

£1799

£1549pp

£299pp

FAQs

Monday 21 October: Arrival Transfers at 10.30am for arrivals at Sicily Palermo Airport before 10am; and 3.45pm for arrivals before 3pm. The transfer takes approximately 50 minutes.

 

Saturday 26 October: Departure Transfers at 7.45am for departures after 11am; and 11am for departures after 1.30pm. The transfer takes approximately 30 minutes.

In October daytime temperatures will range between 19-24°C, with variations depending on the region. Temperatures in the evenings and also the mountains will be cooler.

Gravel in Sicily is a unique mix of smooth gravel, broken road, rocky and technical sections and small back country lanes.

A gravel bike is ideal for this trip as it will cope well with the varied terrain on the route.

we suggest a wider tyres, over 42mm, will be ideal as they will offer comfort and stability on the rockier and more technical sections, and still be fast rolling on the country lanes. A gravel tread also works well, although you may wish to choose a tyre with more grip.

Remember to cycle on the right-hand side of the road and take care on any road sections, particularly in and around towns, as roads can be quite busy.

Currency – Euro

Electricity – power plugs and sockets of type G are used. The standard voltage is 240 V.

Visa requirements – There are no visa requirements for Sicily, however you must hold a passport valid at least six months on entry with two blank pages and issued in the previous 10 years.

Language – Italian

Time zone – GMT +1

Is tap water drinkable? Yes, tap water in Sicily is generally safe to drink. There any many water fountains on route, just avoid any that say ‘aqua non potable’.

We will have bikes to rent soon for this trip. Our local partner has a great fleet of Focus gravel bikes available for £199.

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