The stage is hilly at the beginning, and features a first-category summit finish. Over the first 130 km, approaching the volcano, the route features a steady succession of milder and harsher climbs and descents, with straight roads alternating with curvy and twisting stretches. Urban areas are crossed mostly on stone-paved roads, whereas along the route the surface is worn out at points. The final climb (nearly 20 km) begins past Linguaglossa.
The closing climb (18.9 km) ascends along the north-eastern side of the Etna, following a constant succession of hairpins, beside more or less recent lava streams. The mean gradient is 6.6%, with slopes averaging 9% over the last 3 km (and especially around -2,000 m), and topping out at 11% with 1.5 km to go. The home straight (50 m) is on 6.5 m wide asphalt road.
start / finish
Enna is known as the highest Regional County Seat in Italy, between 900 and 990 metres high. It was called by Romans Urbs Inexpugnabilis because it was unassailable, Sicily Midpoint because it is in the centre of the island, and Sicily Overlook for the panoramic views. Sheltered on this upland, Enna offers a breath-taking postcard, given by a territorial shape almost unique in the world, due to the lack of mountain chains nearby, high enough to blind the view. It was a fortress for the past three millenniums for peoples like Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabians, Normans, Suevians and Aragoneses. Enna is a city full of history and it can praise a monumental heritage among the biggest in the Region.
There are some typical culinary products which are widely spread.
- Dittaino Bread with the community brand DOP as it marks itself for its particular crust texture and for its ability to preserve for 5 days its smell, taste and freshness without the addition of any preservatives. These unique properties are linked to the durum wheat and to the use of natural yeast.
- Piacentino Ennese Cheese DOP a very particular and fine kind of cheese, as the whole milk, from Sicilian sheep, is worked with saffron, which gives it a unique taste and colour.
- Vucciddati typical biscuits made of shortcrust pastry whose filling can be dry figs, almonds or jam.
- Saffron so called ‘Red Sicilian Gold’ because you need about 140.000 flowers to have 1 kg of it and about 30 days for its harvest.
- Olive-growing is the third productive branch of the territory, after wheat and zootechnics. The ‘Green Gold’ from Enna is classified as Sicilian IGP oil.
Points of interest
Lombardia Castle represents the architectural symbol of the city. For almost half a century it had been home of the city opera theatre and it was described as ‘The nearest Theatre to Stars’.
Not far from the Castle, there is Ceres Cliff which since the 5th century B.C. was already a place of worship for the harvest Goddess Ceres, for many peoples like Sicani, Greeks and Romans.
Federico Tower was built as a defense tower for the city. It has an octagonal shape because it was probably used for the wind rose.
Janniscuru Gate is the last of the 6 ancient gateways of the city.
The Cathedral is a great example of Mediaeval ecclesiastical architecture: it was built in 1300 and it shows majestic Corinthian colonnades, three naves and three apses.
The Town Garibaldi Theatre, built in 1872, one and well combined with the older eighteen-century Senatorio Palace, then become the Town Hall, once belonging to the Trigona family, Floristella’s barons, who sold it to Castrogiovanni’sSenators. Five kilometres far from Enna there is The Pergusa Lake Special Natural Reserve which is the only natural lake in inner Sicily, from which most of the insular migrant avifauna passes through. The ring around the lake hosts an important automotive circuit, Pergusa Racetrack, location of many important national and international events.
Etna (Linguaglossa - Piano Provenzana)
Linguaglossa is located 44 Km far from Catania, 550 m a.s.l.
It is a typical Etnean village with streets and portals in lava stone, ancient buildings and multiple alleys adorned with murals.
In the past, Linguaglossa was linked to the production and transport of the big pines of Etna, whose wood and resin have been indispensable materials over the centuries.
An historian of the 16th century affirmed that Linguaglossa have been fonded by a group of Genoese and Lombard artisans based in Castiglione. Around the year 1100 they left that village to settle permanently in our districts, where they began to practice the extraction of the resin from the large trunks of the pines: Linguaglossa was born. It was cited for the first time in a document of 1145 , in which Ruggero II, king of the Normans and Sicily, established the borders of the Diocese of Messina.
Subsequently the town became feudal property assigned to various families, until June 13th 1634, when the Spanish king Philip IV gave Linguaglossa the status of free city.
It was in that period that the main churches were built. From the beginning the inhabitants were farmers, lumberjacks and small landowners who demonstrated their creativity and industriousness.
The product par excellence of Linguaglossa is undoubtedly “Salsiccia al ceppo”, pork meat cut by hand in small pieces, with the typical knife called “partituri”, and processed and stuffed on an oak stump, tree of the Etnean area.
It is flavored with the addition of salt, pepper and the typical wild fennel seeds, to be finally stuffed into natural casings. Its typical knot shape is given by the use of a string which is removed before eating.
Usually, a way to taste this delicacy is to accompany it with “colicedda” (brassica fruticulosa), a local spontaneus vegetable from the Etnean area.
The typical dishes of the town derive from skilful combinations of local products, such as olives, mushrooms, oregano, wild fennel etc., and consist of first corse based on vegetables and second corse of meat seasoned with local essences, side dishes of mushrooms and wild vegetables.
In all the local pastry shops you can also find almond and hazelnut pastries, “mastazzoli” and “granita” in the summer.
The wines of the area are also very famous, such as: Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Nero d’Avola, Carricante, Catarratto and Minnella.
Near Linguaglossa there are numerous wineries that produce “DOC Etna” wines of excellent quality and several oil mills that produce extra virgin olive oil typical of the area.
Points of interest
The inhabited centre of Linguaglossa welcomes you with wide streets, ancient palaces and two luxuriant parks which are “Villa dei Vespri Siciliani” and “Villa Giovanni Milana”.
There are also many churches in the town, such as the Church of San Francesco di Paola, which is located in front of Piazza Municipio, where the First World War memorial stands imposingly.
There original building of the Church dates back to the 16th century, the very simple entrance is softened by the bronze door made by the sculptor Salvatore Incorpora in 1980, while the inside of the Church is full of Barocco stuccos. On the first altar on the right is the statue of Madonna dell’Oreto, the work of Antonello Gagini, sculpted in 1504.
Another noteworthy Church is the one dedicated to the Immaculate Conception with the adjoining convent of “Cappuccini” Fathers. On its main altar there is the most excellent of the works preserved in Linguaglossa: the famous “Custodia” of Pietro Bencivinni, carved between 1708 and 1710 in cypress, orange and walnut wood.
The main Church is the one dedicated to Madonna delle Grazie and dating back to 1613.
Its facade is severe and graceful, the inside has three naves, with a transet raised above the central nave. The work that best gives luster to the Church is located just behind the high altar, under the large organ: it is the Majestic wooden choir carved with friezes, bas-reliefs, and all-round sculptures made by the Catania master carvers G. Turrisi and G. Cirolli, in 1728.
The oldest Church in Linguaglossa is certainly the one of Sant’Egidio Abate, dating back to the 13th century.
Not too far from the latter, it is also possible to reach the SS. Antonio and Vito Church which stands out for its 18th century lava stone portal.
Finally, in Via Roma, on a small square stands the Church of SS. Annunziata, dating back to the 16th century, with a polychrome portal, composed of lava stone and red marble.
In Piazza Annunziata there are also the Museum “Francesco Messina” and the Info point “Pro Loco”, which is an interesting ethnographic museum with exhbitions of the fauna and flora of Etna and tools of the old jobs. From the square you can also start a unique artistic itinerary, the one of the murals that make Linguaglossa an “open-air museum”.