Italy | Sicily | Austin Exclusive
Navigate cultural crossroads in this area where civilizations of a past time have all left their marks
6 days / 5 nights
Activity Level Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.
Take advantage of the opportunity to explore intriguing Sicilian sites with the one and only Ron Van Dijk. Ron has over 45 years’ experience guiding trips in Europe and is well-known for co-founding Euro-Bike Tours and loved for sharing his wealth of European knowledge.
Ron will gracefully guide you through Sicily, an Italian province that has extended a welcoming hand to visitors throughout the ages. It is a cultural crossroads where Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians and Arabs, Italian and Spanish civilizations have all left their mark over the centuries – artistically, architecturally, and gastronomically. Our journey focuses on traveling through the south-eastern side of the island, visiting the Baroque towns of Ragusa and Noto, and across the Val di Noto. The entire experience is pure indulgence for the senses: admire the island’s rich culture, savor fresh seafood, handmade pasta, arancini, pasta with sardines, and caponata.
- Walk through the well-preserved town of Siracusa and its archaeological park with Greek and Roman remains
- Explore the protected Vendicari Nature Reserve, a complex of coastal marshlands, and home to large populations of migratory birds
- Drive to Siracusa, with its urban waterfall of Baroque palaces and churches clinging to the steep hillside
- Pedal along roads lined with stone walls to the village of Donnafugata, known for its wine and the 17th-century castle, the latter which inspired a number of writers and artists
- Cycle via Scicli (one of the eight towns in the Val di Noto valley designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites) to Módica, where you can treat yourself to chocolate at the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto
- Witness the wild and natural beauty of the Reserve of Pantalica, an unbelievable collection of gorges and canyons, and surprisingly, a rainforest complete with waterfalls
- Visit the epic sight of Pantalica, a Bronze Age settlement with the largest necropolis in the Mediterranean
- Discover Cantoniera d’Etna (6,200 feet), the highest point a paved road will take us up the famous volcano
A few more reasons why you've gotta go:
The history: Step back into time as you explore the ruins leftover from a time of empirical power and the collision of multiple cultures
The inspirational sites: Visit places that have served as the origin of thought for famous written and creative works
The authentic Italian cuisine: From pasta to seafood to the wine, you'll get to savor every local flavor
Catania, Sicily, Italy CTA
Catania, Sicily, Italy CTA
This morning we will meet you in the lobby the Hotel Una Palace in Catania at 9:30 a.m. After a transfer to Siracusa, the guided walk begins with a local guide through the well-preserved town of Siracusa and its archaeological park with Greek and Roman remains. Tonight, we gather for a wonderful welcome dinner.
About Hotel des Etrangers et Miramare
Situated in the center of Ortigio Island in Siracusa, Hotel des Etrangers boasts beautiful sea views, and is only a brief distance from the sights and attractions. Its magnificent neoclassical façade dominates the harbor. Step in style into the grand entrance hall and admire the precious marble floors, the stucco works and gold decor of the walls. The Arethusa & wellness spa pool with jacuzzi is designed to ensure privacy and tranquility. Beauty treatments and massages are also available. The two restaurants serve fine Italian dishes, while the roof garden has a wonderful terrace for outdoor dining.
After a transfer, we’ll take a walk in the protected Vendicari Nature Reserve, a complex of coastal marshlands, and home to large populations of migratory birds. After taking lunch in a farmhouse we continue to Noto, with its golden-hued limestone buildings. Then drive to Siracusa, with its urban waterfall of Baroque palaces and churches clinging to the steep hillside. We will spend two nights here in our hotel on the edge of the old town Ragusa Ibla.
About San Giorgio Palace Hotel
San Giorgio Palace Hotel, in Ragusa Ibla, is partially located in a building dating back to the eighteenth century, only a few steps from the Piazza Duomo and the majestic cathedral.The restaurant, with a breathtaking view over the valley of Santa Domenica, was built in an ancient Franciscan convent, featuring elegant stone vaults. All rooms at the Palace San Giorgio come with modern design furniture and are equipped with minibar, air conditioning, and LCD TV.
Pedal along roads lined with stone walls to the village of Donnafugata, known for its wine and the 17th-century castle, the latter which inspired a number of writers and artists. Guiseppe di Lampedusa used the castle’s name in his famous 1958 novel The Leopard as the title of the country house inhabited by the Salina family. Proceed to the coastal resort town Marina di Ragusa for lunch on the beach and a dip in the Mediterranean. Return to Ragusa by van or continue to cycle via Scicli (one of the eight towns in the Val di Noto valley designated as World Heritage sites) to Módica, where you can treat yourself to chocolate at the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, the oldest chocolate shop in Sicily. Tonight, you are free to explore Ragusa and take advantage of the great local dining scene.
Today we drive into the Reserve of Pantalica, an unbelievable collection of gorges and canyons, and surprisingly, a rainforest complete with waterfalls. Later we visit the epic sight of Pantalica, a Bronze Age settlement with the largest necropolis in the Mediterranean. After we’ll have lunch in a nearby farmhouse, then head to this evening’s destination, the magical town of Taormina, arguably occupying one of the most advantageous positions in the world.
About Hotel San Domenico Palace
The San Domenico Palace sits in a truly magnificent setting that has attracted people for centuries. A luxurious 5-star hotel in an ancient Dominican monastery, it has views over Mount Etna and the Taormina Bay. It features a fitness center, a beauty corner, an outdoor swimming pool, and the prettiest gardens. Listed in the most famous food guides, the restaurant serves top quality Sicilian cuisine. This may be as close as you’ll ever get to heaven…. while on earth.
We begin the day with a two-hour transfer to Cantoniera d’Etna (6200 ft), the highest point the paved road will take us up the famous volcano. From here, an exhilarating all-downhill bike ride to Giarre will make you forget any hills you’ve encountered on this trip so far. A 30-minute transfer brings us back to Taormina. In the late-afternoon, we enjoy a sunset cruise to toast to a beautiful trip and a final dinner as well.
After our last breakfast together, your guides will offer a shuttle to the Catania airport (or your hotel or car rental place in Catania if you decide to prolong your stay in Sicily).
*Trip itineraries are subject to change without notice due to road, weather, and other factors outside of our control, for the safety and enjoyment of our guests, as deemed necessary and appropriate by Austin Adventures.
Arrival & Departure
Prior to the trip, arrive at your own convenience in Catania. On Day 1, we will meet you in the lobby the Hotel Una Palace in Catania at 9:30 a.m. After a transfer to Siracusa, the guided walk begins. After breakfast on Day 6, we take you to the airport, train station, or the hotel of your choice in Catania.
Day 3 bicycle mileage options: 22 / 33 / 39
Day 5 bicycle mileage option: 20
Day 2 hiking mileage option: 4
Day 4 hiking mileage option: 4
Walk the ancient trails carved out by the Etruscans 2,500 years ago and explore the caves of their necropolis. Explore the humble quarters of Napoleon on the Isle of Elba, and learn how this restless soul planned his comeback from here.
The hallmark of an Austin Adventures vacation is our exceptional dining. All meals: breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, refreshments and receptions are included as indicated by itinerary. (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner). Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.
After receiving your reservation and deposit, we’ll send you a pre-trip planner with general information about the area you’ll be visiting, a packing list, exercise guidelines, a guest information questionnaire and a liability release agreement for you to sign and return within 10 days.
Included in Trip Price
- Double occupancy rooms with private baths.
- All breakfasts. Lunches and dinners as listed by day. Snacks along the route.
- Fully trained, first-aid certified professional guides and knowledgeable local partners.
- Bikes, helmets and other necessary equipment – all safe and well maintained.
- Vehicle support and land transportation during the trip.
- Austin Adventures T-shirt, water bottle, luggage tags and luggage service.
- Pre-departure and packing information.
- Incidental expenses such as taxes, dining and housekeeping gratuities, local guide and expert gratuities.
Not Included in Trip Price
- Gratuities to Austin Adventures guides.
- Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities.
- Pre-and post-trip accommodations and associated expenses.
- Air and land transportation to/from host cities.
- All types of personal insurance.
- Personal expenses.
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.1 Easy (1)
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.2 Moderately Easy (2)
Ron Van Dijk
Any former guest lucky enough to have been on one of Ron’s tours knows that he’s one of the best in the business. Mastering his craft alongside his father and co-founder of Euro-Bike Tours, Ron has been guiding tours and developing tours in Europe for over 45 years. Ron is one of the most knowledgeable guides about all things European travel. Born in Canada, Ron has also lived in the Netherlands, the United States, France, and Germany. He’s fluent in many European languages and has a passion for guiding that is unmatched.