Landing in the island and start (Saturday 27 April)
Arrival in Palermo is between 7am and 7:30am. In case of delay the organisers decide how to proceed. In any case, cyclists only need to take back their bikes and cycle for three kilometres along the coast to San Paolo Hotel, where the start is. Bike Rando Staff takes care of all luggage, it is also possible to deliver to the Staff any bag drop for Linguaglossa. Those who travel by car can park it at the start. Start is from 8 am towards Termini Imerese.
Seventh stage: Palermo – Castellana Sicula
101 km, 1732 m D+: highly demanding, check point in Castellana Sicula
Palermo is a charming city, showing traces of several civilisations which enriched it with cultural and artistic beauties. Palermo is considered "the Museum of the Mediterranean Sea" thanks to Greek, Punic, Roman, Arab, Norman and Swabian influences. First 40 km along "SS 113 Settentrionale Sicula", follow the coast through Bagheria, hometown of Renato Guttuso and Giuseppe Tornatore and full of great ancient villas, and reach Termini Imerese, where Ercole's favourite thermal spring is located. "SS 120 dell'Etna e della Madonie", then, goes gently uphill and allows for some breaks going down. Go along the well-known curvy "Targa Florio" road, famous for a car race born in 1905, and reach Cerda, village of the artichoke. The same road leads to the Ionian Sea and is also known as "the road of the four Parks", as it passes by Madonie Park, Nebrodi Park, Alcantara river Park and Etna Park. Caltavuturo, islamic village, and Castellana Sicula between the Madonie Park gates. The checkpoint is in Castellana at restaurant "Natura in Tavola" (Piazza San Francesco di Paola).
Eighth stage: Castellana Sicula – Cesarò
106 km (207 in total), 1908 m D+: highly demanding, check point in Cesarò
The road towards Cesarò is great for cyclists, who can enjoy ancient villages hiding thousand-year old traditions and tasty local food like the "frascatella", cannoli, ricotta cheese, vegetables and fruits. Petralia Soprana and Petralia Sottana are natural balconies on the Madonie, from which it is possible to admire Etna Volcano. Petralia Sottana is also famous for its "Casa du Currivu" (house of the prank), which is the narrowest house ever built as it is only one-metre large and was built in the post-war period because of a family dispute. Go through the highest Pass of the tour (1062 m a.s.l.) at km 121, exit the Madonie area and enjoy the view over Gangi, a little village built on the top of a promontory. Pass by Nebrodi Park going up and down, then reach Sperlinga, a village counting 50 caves in it. Continue towards Nicosia, re-populated by the Norman with folks from Lombardy, who used to speak the unique Gaul-Italic dialect which is still possible to hear in town. Troina, with its woods, grazing and stuffed focaccia is the next town. The checkpoint is 20 km away at the entrance of Cesaró, Nebrodi Castle, at the famous Mazzurco brothers' restaurant (Via Conceria).
Ninth stage: Cesarò – Linguaglossa
48 km (255 in total), 420 m D+: moderately demanding; check point, buffet, shower, bag drop, dormitory and breakfast in Linguaglossa
This is the Etna stage: Europe's highest (3323 m) active volcano, in the background of the Ionic coast. The area is a UNESCO heritage, it is characterised by natural beauties, lunar landscapes and villages built in lava stone. Simeto and Alcantara rivers flow just by the volcano, famous for its canyons and gorges. Go up and down again towards Randazzo, important natural, architectural and wine production centre, one of the first Italian AOCs. Get to Linguaglossa through lava terrains: it is an agricultural and artisanal Norman village built in Baroque style. The name Linguaglossa comes from a "tongue" (lingua) of lava which lies at the base of the village. Road "Mareneve" leads to the Ragabo pine forest, where the Piano Provenzana sky resort is located, at a height of 1800 m a.s.l., from which it is possible to admire the combination of snow and fire.
Thanks to ASD Molé Etna Nord Bike, its President Deborah Orso and its team manager Claudio Molé, several services will be at disposal in Linguaglossa at the Sport Centre (Via Sant'Antonio): from a buffet, to showers and relax places. It is true Linguaglossa is 330 km away from the finish, but it is a good place where to rest and from where to leave in the early morning.
Tenth stage: Linguaglossa – Messina
79 km (334 in total), 385 m D+: low demanding, check point at “Messina Stellario” bakery, on the seaside just before the little Ganzirri lake
Going down from Linguaglossa, cross the ancient village of Piedimonte Etneo, and then, very close to the Ionian Sea, Fiumefreddo di Sicilia with its exquisite vegetables and citrus fruits. Ride across the plain towards Messina, passing by several well-known touristic centres. Be careful of the traffic, which can be intense on the "SS 114 Orientale Sicula". However do not forget to enjoy the views and sceneries of the area; like Naxos, the first Greek colony, or Taormina, submerged by cypresses and prickly pear, with its symbol: the Greek-Roman theatre built on two cliffs descending over the sea. Once passed Isola Bella, "pearl of the Mediterranean", it is possible to see Savoca, with its famous café Vitelli from the movie "Il Padrino" by Francis Ford Coppola. Once in Messina, follow the seaside and just before the Ganzirri lake, get to the checkpoint, open day and night, at "Messina Stellario" bakery with the best granita of the Gulf.
Eleventh stage: Messina – Patti Marina
82 km (416 in total), 565 m D+: low demanding, check point in Marina di Patti
Passed Torre Faro get back on "SS 113 Settentrionale Sicula” , which leads back to Palermo. This stage is not particularly demanding, excluding the road uphill to Tindari. Milazzo, on a promontory, was funded by the Greeks and is rich of historic places, like the castle and the fort. Passed Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto, ride towards Tindari on a panoramic road. The Sanctury, overhanging the sea, in place of the old acropolis is, with the "Madonna Nera", one of the oldest worships in Sicily. In Marina di Patti, a fishermen village and touristic location, Salvatore Giordano (organiser of the 1000-km "Sicilia No Stop") and the young randonneur Salvatore Bonfiglio are in charge of the checkpoint at restaurant "That's Amore" (Via Cap. Filippo Zuccarello, no.157A).
Twelfth stage: Marina di Patti – Santo Stefano di Camastra
72 km (488 in total), 597 m D+: low demanding, checkpoint in Santo Stefano di Camastra
The road leading to Capo d'Orlando, founded at time of the War of Troy and later renamed after Charlemagne by the Normans, is usually windy but not difficult. The view is marvellous on the Eolie Islands and brings to Sant'Agata a Militello, well-known for the "Minni di Sant'Aita", tasty local desserts. At km 485 is Santo Stefano di Camastra, famous for ita ceramic artisanal artworks. The checkpoint is at café "da Franco" (Via Umberto I, no.63), one of the best bakery in Sicily.
Thirteenth stage: Santo Stefano di Camastra – Palermo
103 km (592 in total), 695 m D+: low demanding, finish in Palermo at San Paolo Hotel: checkpoint, showers, buffet
30 km to get to Cefalù, UNESCO heritage fishermen village; little more than 100 km to the finish in Palermo. A stop in Cefalù (home of the legend of Dafni, Ercole and the Giants) is suggested but consider the sunset time in order to get back to Palermo with some light, otherwise just enjoy the view of the sea. Once in Termini Imerese get back to the same road of the first stage and ride towards Palermo.
Bagheria is close to Palermo and hosts hot showers and a rich buffet. For those who want to stay in Palermo, San Paolo Hotel may offer rooms at low prices.
Organisers suggest not to leave too early, in order to enjoy the celebrations which will take play in holiday time and celebrate the long ride.