Country Lane Tours is arranging Targa Sicilia, a fabulous tour of this breathtakingly beautiful island and, in conjunction with Automobile Club Palermo, participating in the celebrations of the 110th anniversary of the first Targa Florio.
Starting with the overnight ferry from Genoa, the tour begins with four nights in Villa Igiea, a stunning hotel overlooking the bay of Palermo and originally owned by the Florio family. This allows plenty of time to relax as well as taking in the sights of the ancient city, joining the activities arranged by Automobile Club Palermo, and, of course, driving the famous forty-seven mile Targa Florio route circuit, last used for the event in 1973.
Agrigento, Ragusa (Montalbano country!), Siracusa and Taomina before skirting Mount Etna and calling in at Autodromo di Pegusa on the way back to Palermo and the ferry.
Ragusa & Siracusa are two night halts and daily mileage is low, allowing for plenty of time to sightsee, view the local ceramics, and take in the fabulous Greek temples along with other amazing attractions on the way.
Sadly both German and Dutch motorail have now ceased so the 750 miles from Calais to Genoa has to be driven. However, optional overnight halts at roughly 250 mile intervals will allow leisurely progress across Europe and enable the faster cars to skip and join the group at will.
On May 15th the standard 1975 Rover P6, pictured at the old pits at Cerda, was driven the 738 miles from Genoa to Calais in ten and a half hours so it’s quite feasible to drive the whole distance in a day with a fast car. The continental motorways aren’t afflicted with millions of cones and average speed cameras!
Country Lane Tours clients need no introduction to the meticulous planning that precedes each event, with every inch of the route reconnoitred and each hotel carefully vetted and personally checked.
A detailed, easy-to-read, road book gives precise instructions, complete with information on attractions, and allows you to travel at your own pace. Furthermore, a support vehicle with an experienced mechanic accompanies every continental event. The tour arranger is also present throughout to deal with any problems that might occur.
Cars of all types and vintages are welcome and Country Lane Tours events always have a varied selection of marques and ages participating.
On Targa Sicila there will be facilities for secure trailer storage in Genoa for those who wish to bring machines not suited to the hike across Europe, the mileage in Sicily being approximately seven hundred and fifty in the two weeks. In addition a baggage service will be operating to deliver between hotels to aid participants whose cars have limited storage and it may be possible for that service to carry from the UK.
The itinerary is as follows:
Tuesday, May 3rd 2016
Calais – Vitry-le-Francois. This is the first of the optional stop overs. The medieval town is situated on the River Marne and an easy run from Calais through pleasant countryside. The support vehicle and mechanic will follow cars from here. Mileage for day – 217.
Wednesday, May 4th 2016
Vitry-le-Francois – Annemasse. Annemasse is on the outskirts of Geneva and 475 miles from Calais so some may wish to join here. Mileage for day – 252.
Thursday May 5th 2016
Genoa and ferry (Annemasse – Genoa). The tour now starts properly, with everyone due at the ferry terminal by 9pm. This gives plenty of time for a scenic run from Annemasse via the mountains, Mont Blanc Tunnel, Valle D’Aosta and the rice fields north of Alessandria to Genoa. Mileage for day – 231.
All cabins are ensuite with sea view and the ship has two restaurants, one being cafeteria-style.
Friday, May 6th 2016
Palermo. The ship docks at 8pm and it’s a short drive once disembarked to Villa Igiea, our hotel for the next four nights. Mileage for day – 3.
Saturday, May 7th 2016
Targa Florio celebrations. The Automobile Club Palermo is still sorting the exact schedule, but it will certainly include the museum at the pits in Cerda plus various special demonstrations. Updates will be sent out as they become available! Overnight Palermo. Mileage for day – TBA
Sunday, May 8th 2016
Targa Florio run. Today we will drive the route of the Circuito Delle Madonie Cerda. You will be amazed at the way the road twists and turns through the mountains and villages before dropping down to the Fournello Straight. At 3.7 miles it’s longer than the Mulsanne at Le Mans!
Right: Ristoranti Baglio Himera Cars reached speeds of over 200mph on this section but half way along lies Ristoranti Baglio Himera which is our lunch halt.
The walls inside are adorned with historic photographs and we’ll be joined by Nino Vaccarella, three times winner of the Targa Florio and also victorious for Ferrari at Le Mans in 1964. Overnight Palermo. Mileage for day – 60.
Monday, May 9th 2016
Palermo. A coach will collect us from the hotel at 10am for a guided tour of this historic town. At the end of the tour you can either stop in the centre to explore or return to the hotel and perhaps chill out with a glass of wine by the pool. Overnight Palermo. Mileage for day – 0.
Tuesday, May 10th 2016
Palermo – Mazara Del Vallo. Setting off from Palermo our route hugs the coast for most of the route. The small hilltop town of Erice (2,460 feet above sea level) and the coastal town of Marsala are ideal stopping points. Garibaldi landed in Marsala in 1860 at the start of his quest to unite Italy.
Mazara del Vallo was founded by the Phoenicians in the 9th century BC. It was occupied by the Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Ostrogoths and Byzantines before taken under Arab control in 827AD! Arab influence is still evident today. Overnight Mazara. Mileage for day – 102.
Wednesday, May 11th 2016
Mazara del Vallo – Agrigento. Great driving roads again as we once more hug the coast and visit the five amazingly preserved Greek temples at Selinunte. To give you total temple sensory overload we then drive through the stunning Valle dei Templi! Overnight Agrigento. Mileage for day – 77.
Thursday, May 12th 2016
Agrigento – Caltagione – Ragusa. We now cut inland to
Caltagione, famous for its ceramics and incredible decorated staircases, before heading south to Ragusa. We’re now in Inspector Montalbano territory, for those devotees of the TV detective series, and, of course, we’ll be visiting some of the places used for filming during our two-night stop. Overnight Ragusa. Mileage for day – 112.
Left: Ceramic decorated staircase, Caltagione
Friday, May 13th 2016
Ragusa. A day to relax and wander around this historic town used for a great deal of the filming for the fictional Vigata. Perhaps lunch at La Rusticana? It doubled as Montalbano’s favourite restaurant Trattoria San Calogero in the series and its interior walls are adorned with photographs of the stars. However there will be an optional scenic run in the morning to Punta Secca to visit the house used as the setting for Montalbano’s home and there may even be an opportunity to stand on the famous balcony. Overnight Ragusa. Mileage for day – 0 (40)
Saturday, May 14th 2016
Ragusa – Noto – Siracusa. Noto is famous for its baroque buildings and in 2002 received Unesco World Heritage status.
From Noto we travel to Syracuse, once again a Unesco World Heritage site, this time since 2005. Overnight Siracusa.. Mileage for day – 55
Above: Pantalica Necropolis
Sunday, May 15th 2016
Siracusa. Another day to relax and explore this fascinating city with its incredible antiquities.
Monday, May 16th 2016
Siracusa – Taomina. Today we once more hug the coast as we head north. Approaching Taomina there are splendid views of snow covered Mount Etna. Overnight Taomina. Mileage for day – 75.
Tuesday May 17th 2016
Taomina – Enna – Palermo. A slightly longer day, but we don’t board the ferry until 9pm so there’s plenty of time to take in the sights and we’re also hoping to arrange a visit to the Autodromo di Pergusa, a little known racing circuit based around a volcanic lake. Overnight ferry. Mileage for day 175
Wednesday, May 18th 2016
Genoa. The ferry docks at 9pm so I’m arranging a hotel within easy driving distance. Overnight Genoa. Mileage for day – 5 (approx!)
Thursday, May 19th 2016
Genoa – Annemasse.
Friday, May 20th 2016
Annemasse – Vitry-le-Francois. Saturday, May 21st. Vitry-le-Francois – Calais.
Included in the price are the following:
- Thirteen nights hotel accommodation on a B&B basis
- Porthole cabin with ensuite facilities Genoa to Palermo
- Porthole cabin with ensuite facilities Palermo to Genoa
- Support vehicle crewed by experienced mechanics
- Inter hotel luggage service for small cars
- Services of experienced tour director
- Detailed road book and marked map
- Rally plates
- Windscreen sticker
- Buffet lunch at Ristoranti Baglio Himera
- Detailed road book and map
- Guided tour of Palermo
- Guided tour of Siracusa
- Sundry extras