Pedalling from Palma di Montechiaro to Caltanissetta

The second stage of the Giro di Sicilia Eolo 2022 has a romantic and bucolic feel to it. But do not be fooled by the wide roads and sun-kissed countryside. The 152 kilometres risk putting a strain on the legs of those not yet sufficiently fit. This is the fault, or merit, of an undulating course that gives you no respite. So, the advice for you amateurs is to ‘break up’ the route and choose the stretch that suits you best, planning stops at the points of greatest interest. These are numerous, as we tell you in what follows here. 

In Palma di Montechiaro, like in a novel

Benedictine monastery Ss. Rosario - Palma di Montechiaro
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The journey begins in a place that will seem familiar to many: Palma di Montechiaro, in the province of Agrigento. The déjà vu effect has its roots in literature. The town was founded in 1637 by an ancestor of the writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, who set some of the events in his most famous novel, The Leopard. Later it was adapted for the big screen by Luchino Visconti. Before riding your bike, it is worth visiting the Chiesa Maria Santissima del Rosario, a Baroque jewel perched at the top of a long flight of steps. Another piece of advice? At the Monastery of the Santissimo Rosario, the Benedictine nuns prepare the almond biscuits mentioned in the literary masterpiece: perfect for topping up your sugar levels before setting off. After the first 30 kilometres of flat road along the southern coast, the course turns inland and becomes increasingly undulating.

In Mazzarino, like in a tv fiction

View of Mazzarino Castle at sunrise
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Past a couple of junctions, you are faced with the climb leading to Mazzarino, perched on a hill at 550 metres above sea level. It is the categorized climb that reaches the highest place in this second stage of the Giro di Sicilia Eolo 2022. There is an atmosphere of fiction here also, since it was one of the sets of the TV series ‘La Piovra’. But this feudal village is much more than a fictional setting. At the end of the 17th century, it was one of Sicily’s liveliest cultural and artistic centres and the traces of that period are all worth admiring. We are talking about the numerous noble palaces and 25 churches, built to house all the religious orders of the time. Another place not to be missed? U Cannuni, as the Old Castle is called, a building of Roman-Byzantine origin of which, to tell the truth, only a few remains are still standing, including an imposing tower that looks like a cannon pointed at the sky. A tip: visit it at sunset, armed with a smartphone or camera, for a ‘like-catcher” post on social media.

In Enna, in the past

Enna
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Back on the saddle, a few more hilly kilometres await you before the ascent to Enna, the city perched on the Monti Erei. It is Italy’s highest capital city, a detail you won’t miss along the climb: the road, on tarmac, reaches 12-13% of gradient at points, so some training is required. Once you’ve conquered the historic centre, take advantage of the opportunity to stop and enjoy. There are plenty of opportunities. You can start with an excursion to the Pisan Tower of the Castello di Lombardia, on the acropolis dedicated to Cecere, goddess of wheat and the harvest. And you can end on a high note with a meal based on saffron, Sicilian truffles and Piacentinu dop, a hard cheese with saffron and scented with peppercorns. What is the last effort along this route? The short climb to the finish in Caltanissetta. Nothing compared to the efforts of the miners who extracted sulphur at the end of the 18th century. By the way, if you have some time left, about 30 kilometres away is the Trabia-Tallarita Sulphur Mine Museum, an extraordinary example of industrial archaeology, with interactive and educational routes, set in a natural context of great beauty.


By RCS Sport editorial staff.

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