Planning our return to Italy - Sicilian Circuit - CycleBlaze

Planning our return to Italy

We've been home from Italy for 3 months now, so technically we could go back to the Schengen Zone tomorrow.  It's also just over a year since we had to be out of our old townhouse and almost 6 months since we moved into this place (though we spent two of those months in Italy and one in Spain).

But we will wait, filling our time with local rides, some hiking, skiing once winter arrives, and getting our new home set up.  Then, in mid-March, we will be off to Sicily!

I worked out the basic route back in 2020, based (of course) on the Andersons' two tours and the Mathers' trip.  We booked our flights earlier this month and all accommodation is booked (except one, since the place we want to stay isn't taking bookings for 2023 yet).  I think this will be the best way to go again; we are pretty good at keeping to our plans and some of the stops seem have very little accommodation available.  In fact, there was one village I'd tentatively chosen as a stop because it was halfway between two destinations but which had nowhere to stay, at least nothing findable online.  Instead, we will continue another 25 or so km to a bigger town.  There's another village where we have a place to stay but I'm not sure if there will be anywhere to eat.  We can cope with that if we know in advance, especially since there's a kitchen at our accommodation.  I'll be contacting our host closer to the day about that.

The screenshot below shows our planned route, with a few day ride options included.  We will be taking other days off our bikes to rest, hike, sightsee, or maybe, taking a note from the Mathers, a food tour or cooking class.

The Sicilian Circuit is rather squiggly!
Heart 4 Comment 4
Rachel and Patrick HugensYour northern route from Palmermo to Taormina will be very similiar to ours. You are going counterclockwise?
Racpat
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3 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Rachel and Patrick HugensYes, counterclockwise. Staying in Palermo, Castellammare del Golfo, Taormina... It seems every Sicily journal I've read starts like this.
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3 months ago
Rachel and Patrick HugensTo Jacquie GaudetWe'll need to stay in touch as we will be going west to east!
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3 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Rachel and Patrick HugensOf course!
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3 months ago
Rate this entry's writing Heart 10
Comment on this entry Comment 24
Scott AndersonI want to go!

How long will you be there? Also, just out of curiosity - where we’re you hoping to stay but couldn’t find lodging, and where are you concerned about finding a meal?
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4 months ago
Jacquie GaudetIt will be a total of 6 weeks. I'd stretch it to longer but Al says that's his limit (we went over on the last one).

I was planning Cefalu-Caltavuturo-Prizzi-Monreale but nowhere to stay in Prizzi so we will push on to Corleone.

Sperlinga is the place with possibly no restaurants (not sure about that) but surely the locals can buy groceries? We have use of a kitchen so I'll be inquiring about options before we get there. Worst case is buying a few groceries in Troina...
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4 months ago
Bob KoreisCorleone was a big meh for me, but I guess it depends upon how far you are traveling in a day. If you can make a stop (and it looks like you might be in the area) I'd recommend Palazzo Adriano. It's the location for Cinema Paradiso, a beautiful movie where other than the facade for the theater, the post war scenes are what the town actually looks like. Not enough for more than an overnight stop, but it's a beautiful little town with a large Catholic Church on one side of the piazza and an Orthodox church on the other. Then there is another Catholic Church in town that was reopened a couple of years ago when renovations were finished. It had been closed since an earthquake damaged it back in the 1950s.

but enough about Palazzo Adriano. In Taormina I highly recommend La Cucina Di Riccobono. It's a little, family run restaurant. You would be wise to get a reservation. The do a booming business in pizza delivery as well as the restaurant side. Try anything with pistachios. The pistachio ravioli I had were amazing. Nonna and none in the kitchen with younger folk waiting tables and taking out deliveries. you'll probably be the only native English speakers there. For breakfast head to the Bam Bar for a granita (with cream, as in topped with whipped cream) and a brioche. I've never had a granita as silken and tasty as theirs.

In Agrigento, Ristorante Ruga Reale. Been there twice, years apart, both times were excellent. Also in Agrigento, go to Le Cuspidi for pistachio gelato. It ruined me for the flavor anywhere else. The key with this, along with the ravioli in Taormina, is the Bronte pistachio paste. Best in the world.

Looks like an amazing trip. I'm a bit jealous. The food is amazing and there are Greek ruins everywhere along the coasts.
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4 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Bob KoreisI'll give that some thought. It would take a long hard day followed by a short day and replace them with two almost-as-long and almost-as-hard days. Research is required. I chose Corleone simply because it was the next town on the route.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetI agree with Bob on Corleone too - I’d probably go to Palazzo Adriano again if we ever make it back there (and we might). I see that Booking lists a 3BR apartment in Prizzi though.
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4 months ago
Bob KoreisAnd I forgot to ask, are you familiar with the Commissario Montalbano mysteries by Andrea Camilleri? You can find them translated into English along with the television series being available on DVD or streaming. The books are quick reads. They are good prep for the food culture of Sicily, and Montalbano takes his food VERY seriously. No talking while he eats.
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4 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Bob KoreisAbsolutely! We will be visiting several filming locations and we’ll probably watch the series again over the winter. I like the TV Montalbano better than the character in the books (I’ve listened to all of them as audiobooks).
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4 months ago
David MathersI would pass on Corleone too…bad energy and weird vibe. Definitely recommend a food tour in Palermo and a cooking class in Taormina…both highlights. Sicily is a very special and unique place to bike tour. As you’ve probably read in the journals some of the roads suck for biking but the rewards outweigh any of that.
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4 months ago
Bob KoreisTo Jacquie GaudetNow I’m really jealous. Did you try booking his apartment for one of your stays? Hadn’t thought about this before but if they want to give you the full Montalbano experience they should have someone leave delicious food in the fridge.
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4 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Bob KoreisI'm hoping to. They aren't taking bookings for 2023 yet.
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4 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott AndersonThanks, Scott. That didn't seem to be there when I looked last week but I've booked it now and will continue thinking about Palazzo Adriano instead. I'll cancel the Corleone booking and we'll just ride through as originally planned. I'm not a Godfather fan...
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetFwiw, I’d stick with Prizzi. It’s where I wanted to stay also, but I couldn’t find a room six years ago there either. Adriano is a great and iconic village of course, but it makes for a pretty long day to either Monreale (where it looks like you’ll stay over) or Palermo. Also, be careful with your mapping from Corleone to Monreale. I don’t have the track for it any more, but we had a terrible time with navigation, getting trapped on the wrong side of the ravine at the end.

You’ll be there for Holy Week! That should be amazing. Have you looked at that calendar yet to see where your stays will be? You might do some research when it gets closer to see if you can find local calendars of events.
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4 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott AndersonThat's the conclusion I came to as well. I thought Prizzi looked interesting, just based on the map--Michelin indicates views in all directions. I'll have to check my route to make sure I choose the easiest way up!

As for Holy Week, I had considered trying to be in Enna for Good Friday but with the flights we chose, we will be in Piazza Armerina that day, as you were, moving on to Enna for Easter. Since Enna's Good Friday procession is so famous, it will probably be more crowded than we'd like anyway. It's not important enough for us to try to speed things up in the first half of the trip.
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4 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo David MathersIt took us a while too get used to cycling in Italy this spring but we did. We experienced fewer close passes than we would have had we been in BC, I think. As for the actual roads, our bikes are set up as gravel bikes and not too bad on rough surfaces. Full-size wheels and low-pressure tubeless tires!
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonWe’ll have to keep track of each others’ plans for next spring - there’s a chance that we could have the first ever CycleBlaze meetup in Sicily. We’re still mulling it over but odds are good that we’ll start off next spring with a return to Sicily. We’re looking at a counterclockwise route this time starting in Catania in mid-March, so odds are pretty good that we’ll cross paths somewhere. I guess we’d better look at the Holy Week calendar ourselves.
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3 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott AndersonI thought briefly about starting in Catania but flights to Palermo were easier. I've got all our stays booked so I know where we'll be when. We're still in the cover-ground mode as I'm trying to make up for all those no-travel years and Al isn't willing to be away for too long.
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3 months ago
Rachel and Patrick HugensHi Jacquie! We bought our tickets to Casablanca yesterday leaving Feb 13th. We plan on then island hopping: Sardinia-Sicily-Boot of Italy to Albania. We think we'll be in Sicily sometime late April-May. What is your timeframe for Sicily??
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3 months ago
Rachel and Patrick HugensTo Scott AndersonHi Scott, we may be in Sicily late April May, what is your timeframe?
Racpat
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3 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Rachel and Patrick HugensHi Rachel and Patrick

We arrive in Palermo on March 16 and depart from there on April 28. We don't like heat! We aren't crazy about freezing either, but it's easier to dress for cold.

We'd love to connect if it works out.

Jacquie
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Rachel and Patrick HugensWe have done no planning for this at all yet, but we think we’ll be arriving in Palermo on March 16th and flying out from Bari or Brindisi 90 days later. We’ll be traveling pretty slowly, spending maybe half of our time in Sicily and half in the boot.
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3 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott AndersonOoh! We arrive in Palermo on the 16th and will have 3 nights there, leaving for Castellammare del Golfo on the 19th. No big plans other than recovering from jet lag, building our bikes, and a day ride up Monte Pellegrino. Our flight itinerary will have us a bit ahead on the jet lag recovery as we will spend the previous night in Zurich. 23-hour layover? We can do that!
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3 months ago
Rachel and Patrick HugensTo Scott AndersonOk, I see now your schedule, I commented on the other posting before reading this one....we will be moving quicker than you across Sicily and then the ferry to Durres to Albania. Looks like you and Jacquie will be in Palermo the same time!! Have fun, will look forward to following both.
Racpat
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetOh, OK. I guess we’d better start putting down some markers. I’ve roughed out a plan that goes through Holy Week because I think we should be booking that far, but we haven’t gone over it together yet. I’m sure we’d start with 3 nights in Palermo also, so that could be great.

What hotel are you booked into?
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3 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott AndersonHi Scott

I've sent you an email. It would be great to spend some time together in Palermo if it works out.
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3 months ago