Pearls of Adventure from Sicily

Ciao Tutti!

I’m sitting in the living room of our apartment on the Ionian sea in the town of Riposto. I hear the waves crash outside my window, an occasional vespa vroom by, and the sound of laughter as a family heads out for breakfast.

It’s a holiday. A sacred don’t- do- anything- but- hang- with- friends- and- family day. A go- to- the- beach- and- play day.

We just finished our fullest season yet, and I am looking forward to a day of rest.

As the morning opens, I wanted to share a some stories from the season’s grand finale: the Sicily Avid Cycling trip.

Memories return as colors and images, then form into emotions, then solidify into moments … pearls of adventure … that call to be shared.


Photo by Zakistudio

We paused in Piazza del Popolo early one morning on our way out ofPalazzolo Acreide. I was floored by the grandiosity of the architecture in this tiny town.

Palazzolo, along with every other city in the region, was completely destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1693. To rebuild, the noble aristocracy invited talented architects to come re-design their hometowns in the style of the time: Spanish Baroque. They planned the city, streets and structures with care. The result is a strikingly harmonious and well-organized town with stately palaces and magnificient churches.

Photo by Ed Cornelius III

Our first ride through the scenic Anapo Valley. We traversed rolling hills, passed flat-topped mesas, peered down into Pantalica canyon, spotted necropoleis dug into the walls, and conquered some crazy climbs into the hilltop villages.

Here, we’re triumphantly descending out of Cassaro. See route.

It didn’t take much to make us happy: beautiful views, bicycles and a sense of adventure.

And good food.

 Photo by Ed Cornelius III
Nella, our talented and generous host in San Giacomo, runs an agriturismo with her daughter and mother. All three generations spent a morning teaching us to roll cavatelli, make focaccia ragusana and zucchini sauce. They make their own cheese on the farm and … there is no cheese like fresh ricotta!
Photo by Zakistudio

Yes, this is real. Rounding the south eastern point of Sicily.

This may have inspired the buzzword of the trip:


Photo by Zakistudio

Don’t tell the nutritionist, but gelato is the best energy bar ever invented.

Photo probably by Ed on Zaki’s phone!

Zaki on his third cappuccino and twelfth fig.

Puglia & Sicily Lists  

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

We had so much fun this year, we didn’t want it to end!

Between wandering the streets of Lecce at night, getting stopped mid-pedal by an Alberobello farmer offering us fresh figs from his garden, dancing with the mayor of Castrignano Lo Capo, sampling green raw olives straight from the tree (an experience we all need to have once … and … once is enough!), and visiting Carlo’s mamma‘s house in Seclì for a 3-hour Sunday lunch (a meal so authentic, fresh and and delicious, I’ll never forget it) – we had some amazing adventures in Italy.

 We’ve been busy in California too. We’re launching a series of weekend adventures in the foothills of Yuba County. Every season we’ll take a small group of travelers to enjoy some of the best artisan foods, wines and cheeses available in California (and, yes, we know that’s a tall order!). If you’d like to join us (the next adventure is Valentine’s Day weekend) sign up for California Undiscovered Gourmet’s mailing list or email me directly.

But what really made 2014 such a special year – was you. Your fun-loving presence while traveling, planning, dreaming, dancing, toasting, storytelling and laughing through the year.

Strolling through Lecce on the Puglia Biking trip this SeptemberEnjoying the streets of Lecce before saying our goodbyes

To express my thanks for making 2014 so awesome, I got together with the Piccolina family (from California to Italy) and made you a little video.


Happy new year.
I hope it’s full of exciting adventures!


What’s happening in 2015?

Biking Puglia’s Dazzling Coast  

 Puglia is a fairly-tale region of fanciful conical stone houses, dazzling Adriatic coastline, whitewashed limestone cities and it’s heart beats with the authentic. Here you’ll still find scarf-covered nonna chatting in her chair on the cobblestoned streets at night. Here they still cook a pot of tomato sugo for 8 hours. Heremamma still gathers wild chicory, onions and herbs. Here they still dance in the piazzas all night long. And the land beats with traditional music that is still very much alive. You travel back in time when you come here. And you will never forget it.

Itinerary: Biking Puglia 

Avid Cycling Sicily    
Yes! A trip for avid road cyclists! This itinerary rides 45-70miles/day on aluminum or carbon road bikes.

At the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Europe, Sicily is pure magic. Cycle the breathtaking landscapes around Mt Etna & Taormina (an active volcano, sweeping coastal views and ancient history create a unique atmosphere in Taormina, which is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen!), Syracuse (a Greek-Roman-Byzantine-Bourbon-Arab-Norman-Aragonese-Italian city with an island historical center), and Val di Noto (a valley of lovely towns built during the flowering of the European Baroque and surrounded by wine-rich countryside).
Email for info.

Walking Undiscovered Puglia & Basilicata
Byzantine cave frescoes in MateraOr, you can explore Puglia, enjoy great cuisine, drink wine, swim in the Mediterranean, and not get on a bike!

Guided by a certified “Naturalist Tour Guide,” this trip explores unique aspects of Puglia with a series of walks encompassing its historical, natural, geological and culinary best. Mamma mia!  You’ll spend most mornings hiking, enjoy a delicious lunch, then have the afternoons free to visit nearby towns for a stroll, shopping, museums or, simply, to linger over glass of local wine.
Itinerary: Walking Puglia


We have some exciting and completely new adventures under construction. That’s all we’ll say for now. 🙂