CRE Europe
Cycling and Radiology
Education in Europe


SICILY, ITALY

April 17-23, 2021


Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Igor Mitoraj

 

 

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea located south of the Italian mainland from which it is separated by the narrow Strait of Messina. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world.


Saturday, April 17
ARRIVALS TO PALERMO AND ON TO SCIACCA AND THE VERDURA RESORT

 

 

We highly recommend that you arrive a night or even a few nights before the trip formally begins.  It will make it much more relaxed for you and Palermo is a fascinating city filled with wonderful museums, stunning churches, beautiful art galleries and great restaurants. 

1:45 p.m. Rendezvous at the Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa in central Palermo. 

From our pick-up point it will be a 1 ½ hour transfer through beautiful rolling hills to our deluxe Verdura Resort on the southern coast of Sicily overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  

Check-in and chance to unpack.  The spa or pool or gym or golf club are all possibilities.

Verdura Resort
The 5-star deluxe Verdura Resort occupies nearly two kilometers of private Mediterranean coastline. Home to three Kyle Phillips golf courses, a 60-metre infinity pool, six clay tennis courts, a world-class spa, four restaurants and five bars, Verdura Resort is an irresistible destination.  The large rooms seem woven into the Sicilian landscape and each one has an uninterrupted view of the azure water from a private terrace.

This evening we ride the resort’s simple bikes along the lighted trails to La Torre Verdura for a fun dinner at the trattoria/pizzeria Liolà.  Great wines to match our rustic dinner. 

Relaxed and rustic, Liolà Trattoria is a typical Sicilian trattoria. The restaurant has its own wood fired pizza oven and a large outdoor terrace offering stunning clifftop views over the sea. The menu is simple yet enticing. Sicilian Caponata. Arancini and Pannelle. Sicilian Pasta alla Norma. Sicilian pizza with local tomatoes, pecorino cheese, salami and basil. Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily.    

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Sunday, April 18
VENDURA RESORT, SCIACCA

 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am.

8:00-11:00 am. Medical meeting in the state-of-the-art Auditorium and just outside the window, shimmering coastline as far as the eye can see and palm trees swaying in the breeze.

For spouses not in the meeting, time for bike fitting if you didn’t do it yesterday.  For those in the meeting, the fitting will take place post-meeting.  Bike and safety talk for everyone following the meeting

For those not in the meeting, some time to enjoy the spa with exercise room, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, hot seawater whirlpools or perhaps sneak in 9 holes of golf

Golf
Verdura is home to the three world-class links-style golf courses that use the natural, green contours of the landscape and are planted with indigenous trees, shrubs and brilliant flowers. Warmed by the Mediterranean sun and refreshed by the sea breeze, the courses are free from any buildings, offering uninterrupted views of the azure waters from the undulating greens.

Spa
Housed in elegant pavilions around a striking open-air courtyard, Verdura Spa has extensive treatment rooms including double treatment suites, 4 outdoor thalassotherapy pools, 20m indoor swimming pool, double-height steam room, Finnish and infrared saunas, state-of-the-art gym and fitness studio, hair and beauty salon and the Spa Bar with a terrace overlooking the mountains.

The Week’s Biking and the Bikes.
Sicily is not flat. The biking will involve some climbing every day but those climbs will be
matched with equal downhills as a reward. The general timing for our rides is about 2-3
hours of activity every day. The guides in the support vans are there to help if you ever need a hand or would like to climb in. Our 21-speed Hybrid Bikes with flat bars and somewhat wider tires are provided for everyone but there is the option to upgrade to a Carbon Road Racing Bike if you are a serious rider or to opt for an E-Bike if you think you might like to flatten out those hills. Both options have a cost of 200 € for the week.

Today's Ride:
52 km through the rolling hills around Ribera, and Cattolica Eraclea to Monteallegro and return.

The Week’s Hiking.
The hiking in Sicily is superb.  Some will decide to only hike during the week but most will take a day or a couple days off from biking to join the hiking group and experience the landscape in a different manner.   We have chosen 5 very different routes that explore the surrounding area and take us along the Mediterranean coast, up into the vineyards, through forests and along rivers.   Along with our own BT guide, we will have 2 Sicilian friends who will add knowledge and local flavor as we travel the paths. 

Today's Hike:
9 km hike along sand beaches and seaside cliffs circling the archaeological site of Eraclea Minoa.  

Eraclea Minoa was an ancient Greek city situated on the southern coast of Sicily at the mouth of the River Platani, 25 km west of Agrigento. Its ruins are now found near a modern town of the same name and archaeological finds suggest that it was founded in the middle of the 6th century BC and abandoned around the beginning of the 1st century AD.

Always an option to stay at our beautiful resort for some time by the pool, a treatment in the spa or 18 holes of golf.

Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers. 

Biking and hiking continues through the early afternoon.

Return to our hotel in plenty of time to relax, go for a swim and get ready for this evening’s winery excursion.

This evening we transfer to the outskirts of Sciacca to the Cantine De Gregorio winery for drinks under the olive trees and dinner in the cantina. 



Cantine de Gregorio is located in Ragana, a 13th-century village with a watchtower, a 16th-century cellar, a small mill created to cater to the local’s needs and a tiny primary school with a few classes. Maruzza and Ascanio own 30 hectares of vines spread from the temples of Agrigento the salt pans of Trapani and all of it is dedicated to producing top quality wines.  Their best white is a blend of Inzolia and Grillo while their top red comes from the local Nero d’Avola grape. 

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily.    

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Monday, April 19
VERDURA RESORT, SCIACCA

 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am.

8:00-11:00 am. Medical meeting in the state-of-the-art Auditorium.

For those not in the meeting, some time to enjoy the exercise room, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, hot seawater whirlpools or perhaps sneak in 9 holes of golf. 

Today's Ride:
37 km very hilly up towards Caltibellota.

Today's Hike:
9 km hike through the forest ending in the hilltown of Caltibellota.  

Hikers have picnic lunch/olive oil tasing at Caltibellota. Lunch at leisure for bikers.

Biking and hiking continue through the early afternoon but both groups arrive back to relax a bit before dinner and get ready for the evening’s activities.   

This evening we split into two groups. 

One half of the group takes a transfer to the outskirts of Sambuca to the Planeta winery’s Ulmo Estate on Lake Arancio.  Tasting of their wine and olive oil before a gourmet wine-pairing dinner in their private dining room.

Planeta Winery is one of the premier wine estates of Sicily, and a veritable fine wine empire. The company has vineyards and estates all over the island of Sicily including where we are tonight, the Ulmo Contrada.  Other vineyards include Sambuca di Sicilia, the Dispensa base in Menfi (where their high end olive oils are also made), the lovely Dorilli estate in Vittoria, the Buonivini vineyards and underground winery near the Baroque town of Noto, and the newest estate - Sciara Nuova in the fashionable and exciting fine wine region of volcanic Mount Etna.

Planeta was founded in the 1990s by cousins Alessio, and Santi Planeta and their uncle Diego Planeta, who was already famous in Sicily for his trail-blazing role at the well-respected Settesoli wine cooperative, decades before Planeta as we know it burst onto the wine scene. Diego’s daughter Francesca later joined the company and is now a key figure. While relatively new as a commercial winery, the family’s beloved Ulmo Estate dates back centuries. Today it is a treat to visit with its vast vineyards, ancient olive groves and ruins of an Arab castle.

The other half stay put on the property but dinner is for you to choose and reserve.  Simple dinner with drinks at the stunning Granita Bar.  Walk down to the beach for a seafood meal at Amare.  Opt for a trattoria/pizzeria meal at Liolà.  Or reserve a Mediterranean cuisine gastronomic experience at Zagara.

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily. 

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Tuesday, April 20
VERDURA RESORT, SCIACCA

 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am.

8:00-11:00 am. Medical meeting in the state-of-the-art Auditorium.

For those not in the meeting, some time to enjoy the exercise room, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, hot seawater whirlpools or perhaps sneak in 9 holes of golf. 

Today’s Ride
Beautiful rolling 65 km rolling ride to Cianciana.

Today’s Hike:
9 km along the sea from Torre Salsa. 

Always an option to stay at our beautiful resort for some time by the pool, a treatment in the spa or 18 holes of golf.

Bikers enjoy a trattoria buffet lunch in Cianciana. Lunch at leisure for hikers.

Biking and hiking and visiting continues through the early afternoon but both groups arrive back to the hotel in plenty of time to relax a bit before dinner.

This evening we again split into groups and flip the activities from Sunday evening.

One half of the group takes a transfer to the outskirts of Sambuca to the Planeta winery’s Ulmo Estate on Lake Arancio.  Tasting of their wine and olive oil before a gourmet wine-pairing dinner in their private dining room.



The other half stay put on the property but dinner is for you to choose and reserve.  Simple dinner with drinks at the stunning Granita Bar.  Walk down to the beach for a seafood meal at Amare.  Opt for a trattoria/pizzeria meal at Liolà.  Or reserve a Mediterranean cuisine gastronomic experience at Zagara.

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily.  

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Wednesday, April 21
VERDURA RESORT, SCIACCA

 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am.

8:00-11:00 am. Medical meeting in the state-of-the-art Auditorium.

For those not in the meeting, some time to enjoy the exercise room, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, hot seawater whirlpools or perhaps sneak in 9 holes of golf. 

Today's Ride:
45 km to VillaFranca and Burgio.

Today's Hike:
10 km along the River Sosio.

Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers. 

Biking and hiking and visiting continue through the early afternoon but both groups arrive back to the hotel in plenty of time to relax a bit before dinner and get ready for the evening’s activities.  

Late afternoon we transfer 45 minutes to Agrigento for a special guided visit of the Valley of the Temples.

Valley of the Temples near Agrigento|
The Valle dei Templi is an archaeological site in Agrigento and one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture in the world.  It is one of the main attractions of Sicily as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The archaeological park and landscape of the Valley of the Temples is the largest archaeological site in the world covering 1,300 hectares.

The term "valley" is a misnomer, the site being located on a ridge outside the town of Agrigento. The Valley includes the remains of seven major temples, all in Doric style:

  • The Temple of Concordia, whose name comes from a Latin inscription found nearby, was built in the 5th century BC. and is now one of the best preserved in the Valley.

  • Temple of Juno, also built in the 5th century BC. It was burnt in 406 BC by the Carthaginians.

  • Temple of Heracles, who was one of the most venerated deities, is the most ancient in the Valley, destroyed by an earthquake. It consists today of only eight columns.

  • Temple of Olympian Zeus, built in 480 BC to celebrate the city-state's victory over Carthage.

  • Temple of Castor and Pollux. Despite its remains including only four columns, it is now the symbol of modern Agrigento.

  • Temple of Vulcan, also dating from the 5th century BC. It is thought to have been one of the most imposing constructions in the valley despite it now being one of the most eroded.

  • Temple of Asclepius, located far from the ancient town's walls, was the goal of pilgrims seeking cures for illness. So very appropriate for our trip!

The Valley is also home to the so-called Tomb of Theron, a large monument of pyramidal shape that scholars suppose was built to commemorate the Romans killed in the Second Punic War.

Return for a late dinner at Liola on our resort.

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily.    

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Thursday, April 22
VERDURA RESORT, SCIACCA

 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am.

8:00-11:00 am. Medical meeting in the state-of-the-art Auditorium.

For those not in the meeting, some time to enjoy the exercise room, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, hot seawater whirlpools or perhaps sneak in 9 holes of golf. 

Today's Ride:
One-way relatively flat 43km ride to Siculiana.

Today's Hike:
10 km through the vineyards around Sambuca.


Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers.

Both groups transfer back to the hotel.

This evening we walk down to the seaside and start with cocktails and speeches overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. 

Followed by a gastronomic dinner at the waterfront restaurant Amare enjoying freshly caught seafood paired with some of the region’s finest white and red wines from the island of Sicily. 



Located on the beachfront with an open cooking station, Amare serves the finest local fresh fish, seafood and barbequed meats.  The restaurant’s specialty is ‘crudo’ - thinly sliced catch-of-the-day with extra virgin olive oil, citrus fruits and a pinch of rock salt - served the way it has been for generations in Sicilian fishing villages.

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily.   

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Friday, April 23
DEPARTURES

 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am and something lighter at whatever time necessary for earlier departures.

Three group transfers will take place this morning.

1. Departing the hotel at 4:00 am.  Arriving at the airport at 6:00 am.  In plenty of time to connect with any flight leaving at 7:30 am or later. 
2. Departing the hotel at 6:00 am.  Arriving at the airport at 8:00 am.  In plenty of time to connect with any flight leaving at 10:00 am or later.
3. Departing the hotel at 8:00 am.  Arriving at the airport at 10:00 am.  In plenty of time to connect with any flight leaving at 12:00 noon or later. 

If desired by anyone, the last transfer can carry on to downtown Palermo and drop off at the Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa after the airport stop. 

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