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San Filippo

We have made two visits to the south of Sicily, staying at the Antica Demora San Filippo just outside Modica; the first time together, the second time Colin on his own.

The first time we were hoping that it would be a paradise for mountain biking, but found that it wasn’t. However it is almost as far south as you can get in Europe; the towns are lovely; and the stone making up farm walls and disrepaired buildings is positively radiant. Sometimes an ugly new house has been made from cheap brick close to a gorgeous old farm building falling into ruin.

Much of the backdrop to the Commissario Montalbano series was shot in these towns. Some of Vigata is actually Ragusa, some Modica, some Scicli, some Punta Secca, some Porto Empedocle.

We found tracks on Wikiloc and elsewhere on the web. Routes often follow dirt roads barred by locked gates. It seems that cyclists are expected to find a way round (or over) the gates, which are there to keep cars out. But sometimes the gatemakers have mountain bikers in their sights, and mountain-bikers try in turn to outwit them. I tried following a Wikiloc track for the Cava d’Ispica and found that one of the gates was too much for me on my own, though a party of cyclists could probably have relayed bikes over it.

Farmhouse

San Filippo – Scicli (gps track)

Step

This is a pleasant circular route along roads and tracks with a short stretch of footpath. Scicli is a nice place to hang out. Like Sicily itself, it is named after the Sicels, the island’s pre-Roman inhabitants.

Raduno (gps track)

This is the route followed by a local mountain biking club for one of its meets (raduni), which had been posted on the web. It’s the only route we followed which had any claims to technical mountain biking. It’s an alternative way of getting to and from Scicli. You need to bypass a locked gate.

Track to Ragusa

Ragusa (gps track)

Tracey found this off-road alternative route from Modica to Ragusa. The road itself isn’t bad.

Torre S. Filippo

Parco dei Molini (gps track)

Colin rode two versions of this route during his second visit. The first time he simply saw the second half on the map, using roads for the outward leg from Ragusa; the second time, having seen BTM_MTB’s Wikiloc track, he made an edited version so as to comprise a circular tour from Ragusa (where he had lunch). Though non-technical it’s a very attractive route, off-road nearly all the way, with good views. There’s a bit of carrying on a rock staircase, and a couple of locked gates. The first is in the ascent near the Torre San Filippo, and requires you to lift your bike over a partially collapsed wall. The second is when leaving the Park, and this one is obviously intended to be bypassable by foot traffic.

I didn’t have as good weather as BTM_MTB, so I borrowed one of his photos.

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