Detailed Itinerary 2013
Please note: For those traveling in 2014, your itinerary may vary slightly from what is presented below.
Day 1 - Depart U.S./Fly overnight to Palermo
Depart from the U.S. for Italy. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.
Day 2 - Arrive in Palermo/Transfer to your hotel
Arrive at the airport of Palermo, Italy, where a VBT representative meets you and helps you transfer (approximately 30 minutes) to your centrally located hotel in Palermo. 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 guide.
Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be available until 2 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.
The rest of the day is free for you to discover this city on your own. Perhaps you’ll stroll around the Massimo Theater area – a very lively spot in the evening lots of shops and restaurants can be found. Or maybe browse the Borgo Vecchio market, open until late in the evening.
Day 3 - Visit Villa del Casale / 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 (Ai Cavalieri Hotel Palermo,
Via Sant'Oliva 8, Palermo, Tel +39 091 583 282) at 7:45 a.m., ready to leave at
8:00 a.m. 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 8:00 a.m. or if you are delayed, you must travel at your own expense to our hotel 5 km south of
Ragusa on the road to Marina di Ragusa (approximately 4 hours by private taxi
with rates to be negotiated onsite). Or take an ‘AST’ bus from the
Palermo Train Station (departing at 7:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 2:45 p.m., 7:00 p.m.)
to Ragusa City - Via Zama. It will cost 13 € per person and take approximately 4
hours. From there, take a taxi to our hotel (approx. 15€). If there is no taxi available
in Ragusa, please contact the Hotel Poggio del Sole Resort for help. We
recommend contacting the hotel to advise of any travel delays or changes, and
the staff will pass along your message to your VBT Trip Leaders.
Package guests & Pre-Trip Extension guests: Meet your VBT representative
and the rest of the group in the lobby of our Palermo Hotel at 7:45 a.m. The
VBT representative will be holding a VBT sign and easy to recognize.
Palermo, we transfer with our local guide to Piazza Armerina to see the amazing
mosaics of Villa del Casale. The 3,500-square-meter Villa was the country home
of a high-ranking member of the Roman Empire and was built between the third
and fourth centuries. The Villa is world famous for its huge and well
preserved floor mosaics representing heroes of mythology and episodes of
everyday life during the time of Diocletian. The most famous mosaic represents
young women wearing bikinis (in fact they are wearing garments for the
gymnasium)…certainly one of the very first bikinis in history! Villa del Casale
is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular destinations in
by the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site, we continue our journey to our
hotel in Ragusa, where we are scheduled to arrive around 2 p.m. The total transfer
time this morning is approximately four hours.
hotel is an accurate restoration of a residence from the 1800's. 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.
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
Day 4 - Cycle to Donnafugata Castle/ Refresh with a gelato at 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 dry 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 masserias and elegant 18th-century villas that still belong to landowners. We arrive at Donnafugata Castle, the most outstanding among these villas for its neo-gothic style. We pause to enjoy a superb view of the countryside. We can take our lunch at one of the cafes or restaurants near the castle.
This afternoon, we pedal toward the sea. Along the way, we pass large greenhouses, a source of great wealth for the Sicilian economy as they provide 10% of Europe’s fruits and vegetables. Your ride will be rewarded by gelato 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 are perfect for swimming after our ride. From here, we shuttle to our hotel and refresh ourselves 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. Stroll the pedestrian streets to discover the incredible architectural beauty here and pick a trattoria for dinner on your own.
Day 5 - Cycle to Scicli /Chocolate tasting in Modica/Cycle the Noto Valley
Today we cycle to Scicli over a lovely rolling and extremely
scenic country road. As we near this historic town, our route acts as a kind of
balcony that overlooks this Sicilian baroque city, nestled in a valley between
two steep rocky hills. From here, we continue cycling to Modica. Our
destination is 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 as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2002 for the extraordinary
importance and beauty of the late-baroque architecture developed after a
terrible earthquake devastated Sicily in 1693. Choose a café for lunch on your
We begin 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 a myriad of olive
and carob trees. Relax at our elegant hotel, featuring a large outside swimming
pool and its’ own spa within walking distance. Dinner is at our hotel
Day 6 - Explore Vendicari Park and bay
After a hearty breakfast, we set out to Vendicari Bay and Natural
Reserve, pedaling on country roads far from traffic. Vendicari Park stretches
for eight kilometers over an area of 1,500 hectares along the sea. There, we
cycle a lovely road along the reserve with magnificent views of Mediterranean marshes,
deep blue sea water, and white sand beaches alternating with rocky reefs. Around
250 different species of birds nest here between their migrations and feed
themselves in the four large pantani,
or quagmires, that appear from our road like little lakes. We will walk on a
sandy trail in the park to visit the ruins of the old tonnara (tuna packaging factory) that closed after World War II.
The park is full of ancient ruins, from Byzantine catacombs and a church, to
the remains of the ancient Elorina road that connected Syracuse to Vendicari in
the fifth century BC. Our meal is a packed lunch with delicious bread and
specialties from a little nearby grocery shop, ideal for a break on the beach. During the
summer, it is possible to enjoy a nice swim.
We retrace our way to our hotel in the afternoon, where our
hosts lead us on a walk through their large estate to pick wild fennel, lemons
and oranges. We take them all to the kitchen to prepare a Sicilian recipe under
the guidance of our chef.
Day 7 - Walk the ruins of Noto Antica/Taste a delicious Sicilian pizza
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 out of
the Porta Reale gateway 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 pizza and empanada.
After lunch a mostly downhill and 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.
Dinner is at our hotel restaurant.
Day 8 - Discover Ognina beach
This morning we cycle again toward the sea and beaches, so
make sure to 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. Many
Syracuse citizens have their second home here. We loop back on a scenic route
lining the coast back to the gulf of Syracuse.
Here we 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 very first time.
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 those taking our
Post-trip extension. 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 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 wonderful town.
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.