Thursday, May 9, 2019 | Anthony Fairweather / Michaela Achatzi | Europe / Italy
It's with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Aquafredda. We leave the coast behind and start climbing into the mountains on twisty roads and ride through sleepy hillside villages towards Paestum. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers some of the best ancient Greek temples in all of Italy (yes, the Greeks where here as well). But the highlight of the day ix most certainly Michaela's fantastic picnic at a local Caseficio, including of course the excellent local Mozzarella di buffola! The last few miles take us into Pompeii, where we will spend the next two nights.
We continue north along the coast towards the famous Costa de Cedri, named for the huge lemons that can grow up to 6 pounds in size. The highlight of the day is the fantastic coast road along the Gulf of Policastro which hugs the sheer rock cliffs that rise several hundred feet out of the ocean. A small side trip takes up to the top of the cliffs where we enjoy a spectacular view over the coast.
Our last day on the island takes us back into the mountains. The roads are almost devoid of traffic, full of sweeping turns and tight hairpins an to top it all off, an errupting Mt. Etna in the distance. We finally arrive in Messina and board the ferry to the mainland. After thirty short minutes we land in the bustling seaside town of San Giovanni and join the coastal road north towards Tropea, our stop for the night.
What to do on a day off in Sicily.... How about a ride up an active volcano! We leave the coast and start climbing through the lava fields that cover much of Mt. Etnas flanks. The roads are a motorcyclists dream, full of sweepers, swichtbacks and panoramic views of the coast. Not a bad way to spend a day.
Today we head off into the mountains that stretch across the north of Sicily. Leaving Cefalu behind we ride along the beautiful coast, stop for coffee in one of the many charming seaside villages and then head south into the mountains. We climb to 4500 ft in an almost seemless series of tight twists and turns, then ride along the flanks of Mt. Etna, before finally descending towards the Straights of Messina. Our final stop of the day is in the charming cliffside village Forza dAgro for coffee with a view, just before arriving in Taormina, our home for the next two nights.
Today is all about the Godfather as we head north into the heart of Sicily. Our route takes through towns and villages with names such as Corleone and Prizzi, birthplaces of many of the Mafias most infamous bosses. But today also offers many other highlights such as fantastic riding, a Norman fortress and and the first Edelweiss picnic of the tour.
Our first day of the tour could not start any better. Clear, blue skies, a snow-capped Mount Etna and perfect balmy temperatures. We hit the Catania bypass and take the first possible exit onto the small winding roads that criss-cross the hills of Sicily. After a first proper shot of espresso in a village square we head on towards our first highlight of the trip, the famous Villa Romana del Casale. We spend our time wandering around this exquisite Roman Villa, full of beautifuly detailed mosaics. Just up the road is our first lunch stop where we gorge ourselves on home-made antipasti and handrolled pasta. From here we make our way along backcountry roads towards Agricento, where we arrive just in time for a stroll through the Valley of the Temples and watch the sun set over the hills.
Welcome to Sicily! Our team from all over the North America has arrived to tackle some of the best riding Southern Italy has to offer!