TOURING BY MOTORBIKE
THE GRAND TOUR
From Rome: 16 days
The Eternal City and the Roman Castles; Sorrento, Naples, and the Amalfi Coast; and a complete tour of beautiful Sicily with the Valley of the Temples and the Etna volcano, its hundreds of baroque churches and its villages of white stone. A colourful trip to discover the sea, the coastal roads, the classic Roman and Greek civilisations through the archaeological sites of Pompeii and the Magna Graecia, and the extraordinary nature of the most peculiar island in Italy. A splendid tour amid history, sea, colours, and art, ranging between two cultures, the Neapolitan one and the Sicilian one. An unparalleled journey through unique fragrances, flavours, and panoramas, on top of which you will have the chance to discover two of the most traditional and delicious Italian cuisines that gave life to dishes known throughout the world.
The awesome Amalfi Coast where mountains embrace the sea, with its colourful houses that paint the hills as tableaus and its lovely fishermen's villages, represents one of the destinations most appreciated by visitors from all over the world coming to relax and enjoy the charm of the most beautiful, spectacular and typical Italy. As for sunny Sicily, the biggest island of the Mediterranean sea, it’s an astonishing place. Through the centuries it has endured every kind of invasion: from the Greeks to the Romans, the Arabians and the Normans, who all together made of it what it is now, a place with an incomparable, eclectic culture and a very peculiar allure. With its many architectural styles, its gorgeous landscapes, its strong personality, and the amazing sight of the erupting Etna, Sicily is an island like no other.
Inclusive of beautiful 4-star accommodation and one meal per day.
10 Unesco world heritage sites on the itinerary: the Amalfi Coast, Mount Etna, Naples, Piazza Armerina, Pompeii, Rome, the Royal Palace of Caserta, the Noto Valley, the Temples valley (Agrigento), Villa d’Este (Tivoli)
Meet up in the afternoon.
Day 1: Meeting in Rome (Roma) In the hotel in Rome and go together to pick up the rental bikes. We all meet up before dinner for a short but important briefing, the time to explain a few simple rules for organising and synchronising things. Then we’ll break the ice and start forging some group spirit over a classic Italian pre-dinner aperitif. Overnight in a 4-star hotel in Rome. Included meals: dinner.
Day 2: 240 km Today we’re touring southern Lazio. We’ll be meandering through the Colli and Castelli Romani, exploring Albano’s fine Roman cistern (the largest in Europe still in use) and the volcanic lakes at Nerni and Albano, overlooked by the Pope’s summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. After a stop to admire the view from Rocca Massima, an exhilarating woodland route winds its way towards the Lazio coast, where we spend the night in the gorgeous little seaside town of Sperlonga. Overnight in a 4-star hotel in Sperlonga/Gaeta. Included meals: breakfast and lunch.
Day 3: 225 km Just a few miles further on, we come to one of the world’s most romantic areas: the splendid region of Campania. Today’s ride is all about exploring its hinterland. We pay a visit to Caserta and its sumptuous Royal Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built for King Charles of Naples, founder of the Italian branch of the Royal House of Bourbon. We venture on up to the slopes of Vesuvius along more great biking roads to enjoy spectacular views from the top over Pompeii and the entire Bay of Naples. Finally, we cross the Sorrento peninsula to arrive at the incomparable Amalfi coast (another UNESCO World Heritage Site), where we spend the night. Overnight in a 4-star hotel in Salerno. Included meals: breakfast and dinner.
Day 4: 130 km This is one amazing day, as we take it slow, to enjoy every nook and cranny of this legendary coastline, including lunch with a view in a traditional Amalfi coast restaurant. Then we loop back to Naples, where we’ll leave the bikes while you have a relaxed walk around the old centre of Naples. The massive Mastio Angioino castle towering over the harbour is well worth a visit. We sail for Sicily at about 8 pm. Overnight on board in a double ensuite cabin. Included meals: breakfast and lunch.
Day 5: 165 km After rolling back onto dry land in Palermo, we head to Monreale for our first breakfast on Sicilian soil. We also visit the superb old town (founded by the Normans in the 11th century) and its beautiful UNESCO World Heritage-listed cathedral. Then we head for the hills, on the trail of our first piece of ancient Magna Graecia, as we climb the eponymous mountain to visit splendid Erice and soak up the unbeatable view from the Zingaro nature reserve all the way to Marsala. Overnight in a 4-star hotel in Castellammare del Golfo. Included meals: lunch and dinner.
Day 6: 0 - … km This is our first day for a well-earned rest. And what better place than the area with the best beaches in Sicily. You could catch some rays on the beautiful sands of Castellammare del Golfo, visit the historical tuna fishery in Scopello, or explore the Zingaro nature reserve just a few km away. Our staff and everyone at the hotel are on hand to help you enjoy your free day to the full, with or without wheels. Overnight in a 4-star hotel in Castellammare del Golfo. Included meals: breakfast. No main meal is included.
Day 7: 220 km Today a new chapter opens with a radical change of scene, as we cross Sicily north to south. This is a real biking country! We breeze through olive groves and vineyards en route to the Belice Valley, with the surreal ghost town landscape of Poggioreale, and dive into the world of “Cinema Paradiso” (best foreign film at the 1990 Oscars). The last leg of the day brings us to Agrigento’s mystical Valley of the Temples (another UNESCO World Heritage Site). Overnight in a 4-star hotel in Agrigento. Included meals: breakfast and dinner.
Day 8: 195 km Today promises another fascinating historical feast. We visit the Villa Romana del Casale, an early-4th-century villa and UNESCO site with huge, exceptionally well-preserved mosaics that wouldn’t disgrace an imperial Roman palace, in the lovely town of Piazza Armerina. Then we hit the road again, bound for Val di Noto and its fine UNESCO-listed late-baroque towns (Noto, Scicli, Modica, Catania, Ragusa, Caltagirone, Palazzolo, and Militello in Val di Catania). Just why does this area have the finest crop of late-baroque townhouses in Europe? Although all these centres had existed since the Middle Ages, they were rebuilt to suit late 17th-century tenents of architecture, decoration, and urban design after a catastrophic earthquake reduced them to rubble in 1693. We start in Caltagirone, the hub of the island’s ceramics trade, before pottering up all 130 metres of the Santa Maria del Monte steps and then pushing southwards along roads steeped in a Sicilian atmosphere as far as the beautiful Ragusa Ibla. Overnight in a 4-star hotel in Ragusa. Included meals: breakfast and dinner.
Day 9: 230 km Today we explore the heart of Val di Noto, in a heady mix of art, cinema, natural beauty, roads hewn from the rock, and even chocolate. We motor through canyons, towns, and villages that have set the scene for films like Malena and TV’s Inspector Montalbano. We visit Modica, famed for its chocolate and its 100 churches, Val di Noto (a UNESCO gem), and the town of Noto itself, before thrumming into the charming city of Siracusa (UNESCO again). We keep going a little further to steal a march on what promises to be a challenging day tomorrow before overnighting in our hotel at the foot of the volcano. Overnight in a 4-star hotel in the Etna area. Included meals: breakfast and dinner.
Day 10: 170 km Etna is a rarity in Europe – an active volcano – and this morning is all about its magnificent yet surreal lunar landscapes, which have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We also take in Taormina, that famous town of worldly delights, with its Greek theatre perched above the sea. Back in the saddle, a roller coaster ride on some classic woodland roads whisks us from the Ionian Sea to the Tyrrhenian, via the beautiful town of Novara di Sicilia, as we draw closer to Etna once again. Overnight in a 4-star hotel in the Etna area; included meals: breakfast and dinner.
Day 11: 240 km Get ready for some serious riding in the mountains and by the sea. We’ll be motoring up and down the byways of the Nebrodi Mountains National Park and through the Madonie Mountains in the tracks of the historical Targa Florio motor race. We pause for lunch in a friendly traditional restaurant before pressing on to see another Sicilian gem: Cefalù. This beautiful town with its magnificent Norman cathedral is our last stop before we duck into Palermo for a brief look round on the way to the evening ferry back to Naples. Overnight on board in a double en-suite cabin; included meals: breakfast and lunch.
Day 12: 140 km After disembarking and a swift breakfast in one of Italy’s finest cake shops, we visit the legendary archaeological site of Pompeii before exploring the wonders of the Bay of Naples. And there are quite a few. From the artistic marvels of the Campi Flegrei – like the Piscina Mirabilis, the spa at Baiae, and the Flavian amphitheatre with its remarkable underground passages – to natural gems like the spa at Agnano Terme and the famous Solfatara, the volcanic crater with its still active lava lake that you can see up close. All garnished with the colours and traditions of Posillipo and the Vomero area, with spectacular views of Naples and its bay. Overnight in a 4-star hotel in Naples. Included meals: lunch and dinner.
Day 13: 0 - … km It is time for another day off, and we recommend leaving the bikes in the garage. Our staff and everyone at the hotel are on hand to help you make the most of your freedom. Here are just a few ideas:
Spend the day roaming the byways of Naples, the Bourbon capital with its baroque allure, its museums, and fortresses, its piazzas and alleys of unforgettable charm
Go shopping and people-watching
Take a break from the heat by investigating the city’s underground catacombs
Explore the famous and fabulous islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida, the true home of the dolce vita.
Overnight in a 4-star hotel in Naples; included meals: breakfast.
Day 14: 250 km Another amazing day awaits. We start winding our way back to Rome. After a quick burst on the motorway to get clear of Naples, we’ll stop for another fine example of Italian baroque before heading straight for Fiuggi and its famous spa. For lunch, we stop at a typical trattoria on the Campania–Lazio border. Overnight in a 4-star hotel in Fiuggi; included meals: breakfast and lunch.
Day 15: 200 km Our last full day rounds off the tour in style. We have a biker’s delight of a route for you – all bendy and scenic – with two stand-out stops: the first in Subiaco for the Monastery of St Benedict and St Scholastica’s Abbey, the second in Villa d’Este, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In between, there’s a visit to Castel di Tora and the deep-blue Lake Turano to enjoy. In the late afternoon, we return to the hotel in Rome where we began, before taking the hire bikes back. A lavish lunch in the capital provides a fitting end to our adventure together. Overnight in a 4-star hotel in Rome. Included meals: breakfast and dinner.
We say our goodbyes after breakfast, leaving you free to go home or explore Italy further.
Day 16: Farewells in Rome Included meals: breakfast.
Quote, Reference 4477.