In December 2018 I decided to go to Sicily. It took me 48 hours to go all the way by train from Stockholm to Villa San Giovanni by the Messina Strait. This time I rented a mountain bike in Chianchitta, and on the morning of Christmas Eve I rolled east along some very tough gravel roads up the shoulder of the Etna volcano. In the early afternoon I rolled around a hill and suddenly got to see Etna having its first real eruption in over a decade! I was 40 km from the summit, so never in danger, but the sight was incredible, and the ground was constantly shaking from tiny earthquakes.
The climb over the shoulder of Etna was hard, mostly because I was suffering from cramps, but the rest of Sicily was quite easy biking, and the weather was great.
I was in Palermo for the first time in 2005, and at that time the city was run down but slowly getting out of the hard grip of the mafia. This time around the city center was bustling with life and optimism.
Tour details (grading from 1 to 5)
- Time of year: September to June (I believe July and August are really hot)
- Difficulty: 2 (except when I made a shortcut close to Etna, which was a 4)
- Duration: 7 days
- Scenery: 3