Discover Sicily's heritage on a cycling trip

Thursday, 12 April 2014 9:32 AM

Cycling in Sicily is the perfect way to discover some of this island's most beautiful towns and stunning sights. Choosing to pedal your way from place to place will allow you to explore at your own speed and ensure you see the best Sicily has to offer.

One of the most striking features of this Italian destination is its landscape, which is dominated by the imposing Mount Etna. This is the tallest active volcano in Europe and it has certainly left its mark on the Sicilian scenery over the years. You really can't miss the snow-capped peak, especially if you're exploring in the south-eastern regions of the island where it has had the biggest impact.

Along with Mount Etna, what else should you look out for on cycling holidays in Sicily? Here are just a few suggestions.

Noto

Noto is one of eight towns that are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to their stunning baroque architecture. This settlement is perhaps the best place to get an introduction to this style of building, as its streets are lined with excellent examples of this artistic movement. Another quirk of Noto is that it is separated into two distinct parts - the old and the new.

In the late 17th century, an earthquake destroyed many of the buildings in Noto and in other towns and cities in the region, resulting in a large-scale reconstruction project which led to the wonderful baroque facades you see here today. The older districts of Noto are situated towards the top of a plateau, while its newer neighbourhoods can be found lower down the slopes. It's worth taking the time to wander around both as they are each home to their own architectural gems. Don't miss the Santissimo Salvatore Monastery, which covers some 11,000 sq m and is a joy to explore.

Ragusa

Pedalling further west will bring you to Ragusa, where you can marvel at more of the region's amazing baroque architecture. The city is spread across three hills and is separated by a deep valley, with two very different centres. One follows an old medieval layout, while the other is typical of the 18th century. The Duomo di San Giorgio is a striking baroque cathedral that is a sight to behold. Its 50 m high bell tower certainly makes it stand out, as do its ornate friezes and statues.

If you're keen to spend part of you cycling holidays in Europe by the beach, it's only a short ride to Marina di Ragusa, where you'll be greeted by a peaceful stretch of sand, ideal if you want to relax and soak up the sun before continuing with your adventure.

Syracuse

This city on Sicily's east coast is the ideal place from where to start and end your break. The settlement is steeped in history, with its most impressive landmarks to be found in the Necropolis of Pantalica. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is comprised of a variety of ruins dating from the periods of Greek, Roman and Byzantine rule on the island. Among the structures you can see are a Greek theatre, Roman amphitheatre and a temple dedicated to Athena. The foundations of the Prince's Palace - or Anaktoran - from the Byzantine era can also be made out. Undoubtedly one of the most impressive sights here, though, is the 5,000 tombs carved into the rock that were created between the 13th and seventh centuries BC.
 

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