Ride in the mountains, sleep on the seashore:
The Tyrrhenian, the Mediterranean, and the Ionian await.
When one thinks of stunning views of the sea, few places in the world outshine Sicily and the Amalfi coast. Italy’s coastal mountains and limited space require devilishly serpentine roads. Combine this with a Mediterranean climate and you have a locale that is simply perfect for a motorcycle ride.
Let's have a look:
Join us in discovering this beauty on the Sicilian Sojourn, a magical tour beginning outside Rome, appropriately, with a night in a castle. History can be quite relative �" this building was erected between the tenth and thirteenth centuries, on ruins of an (even then!) ancient Roman villa!
Like the raiders and traders of the last millennia, tour members on the Sojourn approach Sicily by ship. An overnight ferry transports the group and machinery to disembark in Palermo. Arriving refreshed and eager early in the morning, there is plenty of time to explore, right from the beginning.
Landfall on Sicily:
The city of Palermo combines Mediterranean flair, a southern clime, Sicilian temperament, Italian cuisine, 3,000 years of history and a fascinating mix of cultures and architectural styles. A walking tour lead by a local guide will pass the time before check in, while giving us an in-depth look at the menagerie that is Palermo. The double overnight here allows further exploration of the city, a chance to relax in the wellness area of the hotel, or time in the saddle on brilliant roads in the Madonie Mountains.
The twists and turns on Sicily’s highest mountains reward the rider with never-ending challenges and surprising views of the sea, Mt. Etna, and the rural villages of the area. Yet the coast is never far �" in horizontal distance, anyway. A ride to Cefalu, on the north coast, presents one with an ever present quandary of Sicily �" ride the wonderful roads, or stop and photograph the fascinating scenery? If only every vacation could have such delightful dilemmas!
Ride the coast or explore the hinterland:
Over the next two days the routes take us around the west coast of the island. Route options range from short and leisurely to long and intense.
Coastal rides pass beach after magnificent beach, each calling for a quick dip and a bit of sunbathing in a secluded cove. Or choose tiny roads in Sicily’s interior, leading to seemingly forgotten villages, far from beaches and marshes. This is the Sicily of your imagination �" hilltop villages reached by winding roads. Each day on the road ends with a return to a coastal town, a wonderful hotel, and a gentle sea breeze to lull one to sleep.
25 centuries ago Greeks settled along the southwestern coast of Sicily, and ruins of their temples remain today. In fact, here is the largest concentration of temples outside of Greece. While exploring these magnificent buildings, one must ponder not only the history of the Greeks, but the Normans, the Vandals, the Arabs, and the Spanish, all of whom have had a hand in the development of modern Sicily.
Explore the Baroque city of Ragusa:
Architectural heritage of a more “modern” era may be found in Ragusa, the next overnight destination. Reached after a short ride down the coast, or a longer ride through the rolling hills of the Hyblaean Mountains, the city was destroyed in 1693 by an earthquake. Extensively rebuilt in the Baroque style, it is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Perfectly situated on top of a hill, it dominates the view from any direction. Like the town itself, the accommodation here perfectly embodies the charm and warmth of the Sicilian culture. An additional treat is a Michelin rated restaurant where the evening meal will be served.
Mount Etna, with its majestic slopes and woodlands, is iconic to Sicily. Reigning undisputedly over the east coast, it is Sicily's highest mountain. The last double overnight on the Sojourn is in Taeomina. A “rest” day in the perfect location, as lovers of the sea may lounge, hikers may climb Etna, and riders may play in the Nebrodi and Peloritan mountains. Of all the things that come to mind in this region, two stand-outs are the way the mountains tumble steeply down to the coast, and the roads crossing them.
Ride up the boot, delight in the discovery of Maratea:
After investigating Etna and the area, it is time to depart Sicily and journey up Italy’s boot. Away from the tourist hordes, the next two days feature twisty roads, light traffic, quiet little towns and an experience most Americans never realize. Our second overnight on “the boot” is in the Maratea region, a place largely unknown to North Americans. When Italians vacation by the sea, they head to the Maratea, It might be the secret overnight of the trip �" the place that , when others are sharing stories of an Italian coastal vacation, we don’t mention, for fear that if it is discovered the magic will somehow be lost.
Ahhh, the Amalfi Coast:
The tour continues north for a final double overnight in Positano, on the popular Amalfi Coast. There is much to do on the free day. On the relaxed side of the spectrum, explore the town by foot or take a short ride and ferry to the four-square mile island of Capri. On the more frantic side there is Naples, one of the oldest cities on the planet, or Salerno, both within easy reach by motorcycle.
And of course, the excavations of Pompeii are nearby. This city, buried in two days when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, offers a fascinating snapshot of Roman life. A visit will surely have one remembering sleeping, only a few days ago, in the shadow of another volcano, Mt. Etna.
Thoughts of the journey from Sicily to the Amalfi (and that secret place) will occupy the ride to Rome, as the Sojourn wraps up. What an adventure it is!