Depart from the U.S. and travel to Italy. The particulars of
your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline
Day 2 - Arrive in Taormina / Transfer to your hotel
Arrive at the Catania airport where a VBT representative
will meet you outside of Customs. The VBT representative will have a VBT sign and will be well visible. In the event that your luggage is lost and you are delayed at the Lost & Found office, please check in with your VBT representative to let her know that you are there. Then our transfer company will take you (approximately 50 minutes) to your centrally located
hotel in Taormina. The rest of the day is free to explore and dine on your own
with your VBT City Information included in your Final Travel Booklet as your
If you are going to be delayed meeting our transfer representative
for more than 15 minutes due to delayed or lost luggage, please have airport
staff page our driver with your last name so they may be notified of your
delay. You may also contact our One Call travel assistance to advise of your
delay and they will contact our transfer service. Our drivers are only able to
wait for up to 45 minutes from the time your flight lands after which you would
be responsible for your own transfer.
Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be
available until 2:00 pm. You may store your luggage with the reception desk.
Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are
finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you fly
in earlier than the scheduled program dates, transportation from the airport
will be at your own expense.
Day 3 - Lunch at a local agriturismo / Warm-up ride / Welcome reception
VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your VBT representative and
the rest of the group in the lobby of our hotel at 9:30 am (Hotel Villa Belvedere, Via
Bagnoli Croce 79, Taormina; Tel: +39 0942 23791 or Hotel Monte Tauro, Via
Madonna delle Grazie 3, Taormina; Tel: +30 0942 24402—check your Final
Itinerary to know which of the two). The VBT representative will be
holding a VBT sign and will be easy to recognize. If your arrival at the hotel
is scheduled later than 9:30 am or if you are delayed, you must travel at
your own expenses to our hotel 3 miles south of Ragusa on the road to Marina di
Ragusa (approximately 3 hours by private taxi with rates to be negotiated
onsite). Please contact our first hotel (Poggio del Sole Resort) to advise of
any travel delays or changes, and the staff will pass your message on to your
VBT Trip Leaders.
VBT Air Package guests & Pre-Trip Extension guests: Meet
your VBT representative and the rest of the group in the lobby of our Taormina
hotel at 9:30 am. The VBT representative will be holding a VBT sign and will
be easy to recognize.
From Taormina, we transfer with our local guide to Hotel
Poggio del Sole south of Ragusa. We will stop on the way for an included lunch and
oil tasting at a local agriturismo to enjoy some local specialties. The
agriturismo features a restored ‘baglio’
(a typical Sicilian courtyard) and centuries-old olive trees. Our arrival at
the hotel is planned for approximately 2:00 pm.
Our hotel, with its rural annexes, master house, food
provision store, barn, stables and guest rooms all reflect the era. A new modern
building with open spaces has been added, resulting in a very comfortable
atmosphere. The outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi will certainly lure you after
our long coach trip.
In the afternoon, join your Trip Leaders for a safety and
bike-fitting session followed by a short warm-up ride. Later, gather with the
group for a welcome cocktail reception outside on the baglio. Dinner is at the hotel's quaint hosteria.
Day 4 - Cycle to Marina di Ragusa / Explore Ragusa Ibla at night
After breakfast, we cycle the rolling southern skirts of the
Province of Ragusa toward the sea. You will be immediately immersed in the
quiet countryside, where miles of dry stone walls trace our progress. Here and
there we see cattle lazily grazing in the shade of large carob and olive trees,
and we pass masserie and elegant 18th-century villas that still belong to
Before lunch we arrive in the little main square of Marina
di Ragusa, a typical Italian piazza where at sunset children, mothers and men
gather to play, chat and gossip. Marina is a summer resort and its beaches in
the summer are perfect for swimming after our ride. You can explore, have lunch
and reward yourself with a delicious gelato. From here, you can opt to cycle or
shuttle to our hotel and refresh at our hotel swimming pool and spa.
At sunset, we shuttle to Ragusa Ibla, listed among UNESCO
World Sites for its Baroque palaces and churches. There, follow our local guide
to learn about the Baroque architecture before picking a trattoria for dinner
on your own.
Day 5 - Cycle to Scicli / Chocolate tasting in Modica / Cycle the Noto Valley / Cooking class
Today we cycle to Scicli over a rolling and extremely scenic
country road. As we near this historic town, our route acts as a kind of
balcony that looks over this Sicilian Baroque city, nestled in a
valley between two steep rocky hills. From here, we continue to Modica and one
of the more interesting visits of the week: the chocolate factory of the
Bonajuto family. The Antica Dolceria Bonajuto is the oldest in town and since
1880 has processed cocoa seeds according to the old Aztecan techniques imported
by the Spanish more than 400 years ago. A mouth-watering tasting is a must
after our tour. Stroll Modica Bassa, or Lower Modica, and admire its Baroque
churches. The city—like Ragusa, Scicli and five more towns in the area—have been listed since 2002 as UNESCO World Heritage Sites for the
extraordinary importance and beauty of the late-Baroque architecture that developed
after a terrible earthquake devastated Sicily in 1693. Choose a café for lunch
on your own.
We start our afternoon ride from Balata di Modica on a
mostly downhill route to our hotel. The landscape here is as beautiful as
Tuscany: quiet country roads flanked by dry stone walls and myriad olive and carob
trees. Relax at our elegant hotel, featuring a large outside swimming pool and
its own spa, within walking distance. Later our hosts lead us on a walk around their
large estate to pick borage, wild fennel, lemons and oranges. We take them all to the kitchen to prepare a Sicilian recipe under the guidance of our chef: eggplant parmigiana and eggplant rolls. The parmigiana is always a lot of fun and very delicious. The chef will distribute at least 10-15 copies of the recipes to work from. Next on the menu for travelers to try their hand at are cannoli. The chef shows guests how to fill the cannoli with the ricotta and sugar filling, letting each guest add their very own customized ‘touch’ (with or without chocolate chips, pistachios and more). Finally, we enjoy all the food prepared for dinner, with lots of red wine!
Day 6 - Explore the ancient
fishing village of Marzamemi and tuna fishery
After a hearty breakfast, we set out to the ancient fishing
village of Marzamemi, recently restored and nestled on a small promontory south
of Syracuse. We pedal quiet countryside
roads, mostly easy, heading to the sea. The sea and fishing village of
Marzamemi was developed in the 17th century around a tuna fishery,
which is now the second largest in Sicily and a national monument. The
descendants of the owners, the Princes of Villadorata, still come to their
palace every so often, a beautiful summer residence from the 1600’s. This is where our lunch is hosted today: a
buffet meal with organic local specialties from the sea and fields.
We retrace our way to our hotel in the afternoon. Later, we
shuttle to Noto for a stroll in this famous Baroque city and dinner on your own.
Day 7 - Walk the ruins of Noto Antica / Taste a delicious Sicilian meal
Today a short shuttle takes us to our starting point near
Testa dell'Acqua. From here, we pedal toward the ruins of Noto Antica. The earthquake
of 1693 destroyed this town, once one of Sicily's wealthiest and most
beautiful; even today, not much is known about it. We park our bikes and explore the
ruins with our Trip Leaders. We then set off to our next destination: a local
farm that prepares delicious local specialties, including empanada.
After lunch, a mostly downhill or flat, scenic road leads us
to our final destination: the elegant Hotel Borgo Pantano, set among a sea of
orange and lemon groves. The hotel features an amazing swimming pool set in a
manicured garden of fragrant flowers and olive trees. The hotel opened in 2010
after a long restoration of the ancient masseria. We enjoy dinner here tonight.
Day 8 - Discover Ognina beach
This morning we cycle again toward the sea and beaches, so
make sure you take your towels! On quiet flat country roads, we coast to the
sea until we get to one of the most popular beaches south of Syracuse, Ognina.
Lots of Syracuse residents have their second home here. We loop back on a scenic
route lining the coast back to the gulf of Syracuse. Here we will picnic on the
private grounds of a local family. Our meal includes delicious cherry tomatoes
or ‘pomodoro Pachino’, which take
their name from the nearby town of Pachino where they were grown for the first
Later, relax in the hotel garden and enjoy the wellness center.
Make sure you feel revived and ready for tonight's lecture about Syracuse and
the Greeks, followed by an orientation talk about Syracuse for our Post-Trip
Extension guests. Our farewell dinner is at the hotel tonight.
Day 9 - Transfer to Syracuse / Free time / VBT No-Air Package ends
VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, transfer to
Syracuse and the Grand Hotel Livingston Relais Spa, where you are then free to
continue on your own. If you depart earlier, you must make transfer
arrangements from the last hotel at your own expense. Taxi cost to Syracuse is
approximately 20 euros/$30 USD (travel time approximately 20 minutes).
VBT Air Package and Post-Trip Extension guests: After
breakfast, transfer by private minibus (approximately 30 minutes) to our
centrally located hotel in Syracuse for your final overnight stay. We arrive at
approximately 9:00 am and have the entire day to explore and visit this
If you have chosen the independent Post-Trip Extension to
Syracuse, you remain at this hotel for the next three nights and our orientation
talk at the last hotel will help you organize your free time.
Day 10 - Depart for U.S.
After breakfast* this morning you will transfer to the
Catania airport (approximately 50 or 60 minutes depending on traffic) for your
departing flight. Please ensure you are ready in the hotel reception area at
the designated time**.
*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures,
breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk
to verify the times that breakfast is served.
**Please note: VBT recommends that you check your transfer
time in your “Transfer Reminder.” VBT transfer times and departure points are
finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you
extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to
the airport will be at your own expense.