From Palermo Central station, we immediately head to the SS624 freeway to get to Sciacca. Yeah we know, we didn’t stop in Palermo, it worth more then a visit, but 8 days to cover a lot of kilometers forced us to leave something aside.
To exit Palermo and take the SS624 you have to pass the University, Via Ernesto Basile and the Prison Pagliarelli. Uninterrupted 21 km uphill 15 of which have an average gradient of 5% to cover a drop of 800 meters. Such a great welcome!
Once left SS624 we enter the Corleone countryside, uphills are shorter but very intense. Such us the entrance to Corleone, 8 km of 400 meters of ascent, and after a long descent through Campofiorito and Bisacquino, begins a series of infinite ups and downs. The road we cycle is however winding and beautiful, with views that make us forget the heat and sweat. To avoid the center of Villafranca Sicula we have to face a deadly ramp. 1 km with an average slope of 10% with peaks of 12-13%.
The street to Calamonaci is the final climb to the sea. Nearly 4 km with a 5% gradient. It is the latest effort as from there to Eraclea Minoa it is a pleasant downhill. Once by the coast we try to follow SIBIT, the bike lane that connects Trapani and Siracusa. The route runs on many beautiful side streets, but in the attempt to avoid the State Road 115 often diverts us on dirt roads and uphill ramps, not really a route for everyone. As in the Pergolas resort, probably we followed the wrong path but SIBIT signs here were confusing, point is we find ourselves on an average 10% road, with peaks of 15% so steep we have to unsaddle and push the bikes, and even pushing is not that easy! We can’t imagine here a family of cyclists with loads of luggage or elderly tourists..
The coast is an up and down that gives no particular worries, with the exception of the route to Favara. 6 km with an average gradient of 4% and 8% tips. One of those enjoyable climbs, especially at the end of the day with a beautiful sunset over the valley of Agrigento. Leaving Favara we decide to cycle along the SS115, a plain straight road that allows us to ride a bit faster then the other days. 116 km in a day to get almost in Marina di Ragusa, here began another beautiful mountain grand prix. 19 km unbroken climb to get to visit Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla.
The road that connects Ragusa to Modica is a curvy street that runs through the gorges of the river Irminio. An uphill to reach Modica and then a pleasant downhill to Scicli. To reach Sampieri we decide to take a challenging road with an endless series of switchbacks, a couple of miles at 5% average gradient that we are so tired of the day that it seems we are climbing the Stelvio Pass.
From Sampieri on is a walk through fields of tomatoes, eggplant and lemon. The route to Noto gives us some more ups and downs, but after that the greatest effort is taking the bike on the train at Syracuse station to go back to Rome.