Welcome to Catania!
We begin our Baroque Sicily tour from the ancient city of Catania which was settled in 8th Century BC.
The city today is a beautiful mix of baroque architecture, ancient Roman baths, Greek-Roman theaters, and churches. These ancient monuments, which are still evident today, date back to the prosperous Roman period when it was one of the richest provinces in the empire.
At the end of the 19th century, the city underwent a cultural and social rebirth with the unification of Italy. Art, literature and music flourished in Catania. It was here that composer Vincenzo Bellini, attained worldwide recognition. The magnificent Opera House bears his name and is considered one of the most prestigious theaters in Italy and is internationally recognized due to its excellent acoustics.
We gather in the afternoon for a guided walking tour of the city to discover these enchanting sites.
Then we will enjoy dinner together at one of our favorite places!
Welcome dinner included
Cycle to sacred sites
We begin with a transfer from Catania to Palazzolo Acreide, a small village with an old Greek amphitheater, aquaducts, as well as centuries-old tombs and sacred chambers. Our bike route takes us along fields of grain, cattle, and sheep. The fields and roads are lined with white volcanic rock creating a beautiful crisscross among the green. Enjoy the peacefulness as we make our way to the lovely baroque town of Ragusa Ibla. Along our route we will stop at a farm, where they produce organic goat cheese, and enjoy a light lunch with their products. Our hotel in Ragusa is a converted Benedictine Monastery with enchanting gardens — a unique stay takes you deeper into the Sicilian life.
Explore this spectacular city as you set out for dinner on your own.
L: On your own
D: On your own
Churches and chocolate bike ride
Today we enter the UNESCO site of Val di Noto. This region, was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1693 and carefully rebuilt in what has become the world famous Sicilian Baroque style.
Enjoy a lovely bike ride that takes us through Modica, the town of 100 churches and chocolate. Modica's old town is situated at the junction of two valleys and split into alta and bassa (upper and lower). As such, the city has only two main streets that run through the small valley bottom, while residential homes and even the city's large cathedral are built up into the steep hillside.
The production of the Modica chocolate comes from the ancient Aztec cold-process method which was imported to Modica by the Spanish during their domination of Sicily. In this process the sugar does not melt, creating a grainy texture and aromatic flavor. The many flavors of chocolate are fun to experience. Leave room in your suitcase for a few bars.
16 miles/27km one way
33 miles/56km full loop
L: On your own
D: On your own
A Sicilian retreat
This morning a private transfer takes us to Donnafugata castle an interesting ancient noble house used sometimes as a location for movies. This Venetian-Gothic style castle was built in the 17th century. Take some time to visit the inside of the castle to learn about the noble families of Sicily. Then explore the gardens and take a chance to find your way through the rock labyrinth built by the Baron Corrado in the 1800's to entertain his guests.
From here we will bike to the Masseria enjoying the familiar rock fences that frame fields of cherry tomatoes and citrus farms. It's a perfect location for our ride this day. Enjoy!
Once at the Masseria take time to relax at this lovely inn converted from peasant housing to charming rooms with the original tiled Sicilian kitchens in most rooms. The surrounding grounds are perfect for a quiet walk or a swim at the pool. Our dinner at the Masseria will include local cheeses and fresh tomatoes that are well known in this region.
L: On Your Own
Rest day or cycle to the sea
Today you can choose a slower paced day at the Masseria or a bike ride to the coast. If you stay at the Masseria you may consider a walk along the fields and orchards, yoga or stretching on your own in the gardens, or time at the pool located on the grounds. If you prefer more activity, enjoy a gentle group ride along the sea where you may like to swim or enjoy a picnic. Our bike route takes us to an abandoned tuna factory. There are trattorias and cafes to consider for a Sicilian lunch. After lunch you can transfer back to the hotel or return by bike, if you prefer.
We will shuttle back to the Masseria in the afternoon where everyone will later reunite for an interesting cooking class. We will make the special folded focaccia known only to this area and we will learn to make the Modica chocolate.
22 miles/46km one way
37 miles/79km loop
L: On your own
D: Included (cooking class)
Bike the Baroque — Noto loop ride
Noto is universally recognized as the capitol city of the Baroque Style. After the 1693 earthquake, the Noto Valley was rebuilt with new aesthetic ideas in mind that aligned with the extravagance of the political and religious powers at that time. You can see the Baroque detail in the palaces and churches which dominate the popular plazas of the towns.
Our ride stops in Avola where we will take a private shuttle back to Masseria Ciancio.
Tonight there are a few dinner options including quiet dinner at the Masseria or an option to coordinate with your tour leader to go to a seafood restaurant along the ocean or in a nearby village.
L: InclOn your ownuded
D: On your own
Bike to Planeta Winery and picnic
Today we'll leave Masseria Ciancio and move towards ancient Syracuse. On the way we'll stop for lunch at Planeta Winery where we'll enjoy a wine tasting led by our friend Viviana. This is one of our favorite stops because we also get to enjoy good olive oil and a wonderful picnic under the carob trees.
We will then shuttle to Ortigia. This island is the ancient heart of Siracusa, which was established by the Greeks. Discover Ortigia on a guided walking tour before our celebration dinner at a favorite fish trattoria.
Enjoy breakfast and time on your own in Syracuse before your departure. Ciao!