Mount Etna, the wild Nebrodi Mountains and the Alcantara Valley
A stunning mountain bike tour discovering Mount Etna, the wild Nebrodi mountains and Alcantara Valley. Myths, History and Natural surroundings
First day: Arrival and Mount Etna stay
Arrival at the airport and transfer to the hotel on Mount Etna. Dinner and overnight stay.
Second day: Il Giro dell’Etna – 50 km with 1000 meters of uphill vertical gain
Meet your guide and depart to explore her majesty Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. You will cycle through ‘fields’ of lava rock and will notice how the black surroundings are suddenly interrupted by the rich greenery of the thick pine forests and chestnut woods. This will be an unforgettable experience on your mountain bike!
Starting at Piano Vetore (on the southern side of Etna) we will head towards the northern side, along the beautiful Pista Altomontana. You will pass several lava stone mountain huts on the route and the lava sand and at times rocky terrain will put cyclists and their bikes to the test.
Mount Etna is a living mountain that ‘breathes’ and you will often hear the ‘voice’ of the volcano in the background while cycling along the Pista Altomontana. This will be an unforgettable ride, up to Pineta Ragabo and down to Milo, where we will stop at a mountain lodge for a delicious dinner and the first overnight stay.
Day 3 – Etna: Monumental trees and wine tasting – 35 km with 400 metres of uphill vertical gain
On this day we will ride along the East side of the volcano visiting two of the most beautiful and ancient trees on the planet: the Ilice di Carrinu, a 700 years old holm (a kind of oak), really impressive, and the Castagno dei Cento Cavalli (Hundred Horse Chestnut) the largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world. Despite the shortness of the ride, on this day we will have the chance to cycle some of the most interesting part of the famous Etna Marathon race route, with its steep climbs and demanding single tracks. A stop at the Barone di Villagrande Wine Resort for a superb wine tasting will be the well earned reward for a special lunch time break. At the end we will ride back to the Agriturismo for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 4 – Etna and the Nebrodi Mountains park – 70 km with 1200 metres of uphill vertical gain
A day long ride experiencing the Nebrodi Mountains Park and its breathtaking scenery. After breakfast, we’ll leave Etna, riding along the northern slopes towards the beautiful medieval town of Randazzo and then towards the village of Floresta after crossing the bed of the River Flascio. Thrilling ride through the Nebrodi mountains park’s dense forests with soaring aerial views, featuring a great variety of native flora and fauna. Incredible views to be admired from the highest panoramic viewpoints, canyons and splendid glimpses of Etna and the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts. From Floresta we will ride down the River Alcantara valley towards Castiglione di Sicilia where we will stop for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 5 – Peloritani Mountains – 52 km with 1050 metres of uphill vertical gain
A day long ride in the Peloritani Mountains. Setting off from Castiglione di Sicilia towards the Peloritani Mountains which run along Sicily’s eastern coast, passing through the agricultural area of Francavilla. Then we will continue on a off road climb towards Portella Mandrazzi. Here the views are breathtaking and riders can feel the peace and tranquility of the Peloritani mountains surround them. Going downhill we will pass through the Malabotta forest, one of the oldest forests of Sicily, one of the last natural woods of our beautiful island with its old patriarchs, the oldest and largest trees of the forest, some of them have a trunk circumference of approximately six meters. On the way back to Castiglione di Sicilia we will stop at the Cuba Bizantina (a ruined Byzantine Arab chapel) for a quick visit before heading back to the Agriturismo for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 6 – Alcantara valley – 55 km with 600 metres of uphill vertical gain
Day devoted to exploring the marvellous Alcantara river valley. We’ll set off from the Agriturismo and then ride off-road along a trail where you can admire the wonders of the valley, where the river Alcantara has dug its bed, creating towards its mouth, a chasm between two basalt lava rock faces: the famous Alcantara gorges, to be precise. The walls, which are about 10 metres high, are characterized in some places by column like structures resembling ‘organ pipes’, elegant ‘fans’ and tidy ‘wood piles.’ The river habitat, amid small lakes and waterfalls, is mainly characterized by Mediterranean scrub plants. We will ride down along the river towards the Mediterranean Sea and Giardini Naxos, where we will have time for a visit at the ancient Greek ruins. Weather permitting we will have also time for a swim in the sea before heading back to Castiglione for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 7 – Departure
Transfer from Castiglione di Sicilia to Catania Airport