This challenging stage undulates continuously along wide roads, through the inland. Mazzarino, Barrafranca and Enna are the only three urban areas along the route. Here, the roads are narrow at points. KOM points are up for grabs in Enna, at the top of the climb leading to the town centre. The stage finale is played out on wide and well-paved roads, with a short climb leading all the way to the finish, in Caltanissetta.
The route leaves the trunk road, heading for the town centre. The last 3 km ascend slightly with mild gradients (less than 2%). The home straight (500 m) is on wide tarmac.
start / finish
Palma di Montechiaro
Palma di Montechiaro, the city of the ‘Gattopardo’ made famous by the novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, is a place rich in history. The discovery of archaeological finds dating back to the second millennium BC and the presence of Sicilian tombs show that the inhabitants were dedicated to agriculture and sheep farming. The first act in the history of Palma is the construction of the Castle by Frederick Prefoglio and that soon passed to the Chiaramonte family from whom it took its name. The act of foundation of the city of Palma is dated April 25, 1637. The first inhabitants of Palma came from Ragusa, hometown of the Tomasi family. To defend the city from the attacks of Saracen pirates, Duke Charles had a defensive tower erected. The city was built following an ‘orthogonal mesh plan’. Countless were the philanthropic initiatives of the Tomasi family, so much so that the first Duke of Palma, Giulio, for his religiousness deserved the name of ‘Holy Duke’.
The latter had the Church of Santa Maria della Luce built on the small hill called ‘il Calvario’ and created a Via Crucis that represented Jesus’ journey from Pilate’s palace to Golgotha. The first home of the Tomasi family in Palma is the Ducal Palace, which in 1659 was transformed into a Benedictine Monastery to accommodate the daughters and the wife of the ‘Holy Duke’. Adjacent to the Monastery is the small church of Maria Santissima del Rosario. Both are fine examples of Sicilian Baroque.
Ph. Credits Comune di Palma di Montechiaro
Palma di Montechiaro, or rather the places of the Leopard, a land where the ancient tradition of Sicilian convent sweets is handed down.
The nuns prepare the typical sweets of the tradition of Palma such as the famous ‘Ricci’ cookies of the Gattopardo made with almonds, but not only: you can taste the ‘muccuneddi’, made with real almond and citron paste, plus soft nougats with almonds and pistachios. These are recipes of typical sweets that came to life within the silent walls of the monasteries and that, still today, are prepared with care.
Goodness and sweetness, a panacea for the body and for the spirit. The sweets are prepared in the convent every week and the trays are sold through a wheel that also allows people to receive gifts. The nuns, in fact, live on charity and offerings and the sale of sweets is a way to sustain themselves.
A specialty apart are the ‘Umberto cookies’ dedicated to the King of Italy Umberto I of Savoy, which are made in thick and soft strips “like the King’s moustache”, and sprinkled with abundant icing sugar. The latter can be found on sale in local pastry shops.
Among the typical dishes of the gastronomy of Palmese we list:
- Busiati with pork ragout
- Cucciddateddi (sweets with figs)
- Salad of oranges
- Risu da Vigilia di Natali (Christmas Eve rice)
- Eggplant pie
Ph. Credits Comune di Palma di Montechiaro
Wines & Beverage
In the commune of Palma di Montechiaro viticulture has a prestigious position among the agricultural activities and the wines produced, extending as far as the fields of Licata and Campobello di Mazara, are renowned for their originality and quality. Local producers have looked for the best positions for their vineyards in order to get grapes suitable for the production of wines in line with the high standards present in the province. The vicinity of the town to the sea and the salty breeze contribute to give wines of this area the characteristic minerality which distinguishes them.
A typical wine produced with grapes from this area is ‘Grillo’, with a straw yellow color and a floral bouquet with notes of white flowers, such as daisy and jasmine: to the palate it is warm, balanced and harmonic with a dry and slightly tannic taste. Its right acidity makes it particularly suited for aging.
The city, a provincial capital in the hinterland of Sicily, offers the opportunity to discover something new about the island. Nature, art, history and food are the four cardinal points that lead us straight to Caltanissetta.
The name Caltanissetta comes from Arabic, Qal’at an-Nisa, which can be translated into “women’s castle” (or fortress), as the town was thought to be the former harem of the Emir of Palermo or, more likely, to be inhabited mostly by women whose men went away to work in the fields. The ancient fortress with red brick towers, also called the Pietrarossa Castle, stands on a cliff overlooking the valley below.
Ph. Credits Luca Miccichè
Local cuisine has always been based on staple foodstuffs that came from agriculture, which are now increasingly popular in the gourmet culinary scene.
Traditional specialties include the Slow Food heritage Cuddrureddra di Delia, which are exquisite deep-fried carnival cookies, now available all year round.
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll love the traditional cubaita (an almond, pistachio and sesame nougat bar with honey and candied sugar), a favourite treat of the Italian writer Andrea Camilleri.
The village of Santa Rita, a small cluster of hoses nestled in the nearby countryside, is well worth a visit. Here, you can treat your taste buds to the local bakery products made using flour and yeast coming from heritage wheat varieties, enjoy a relaxing day in the village, and visit the modern Micro Museo Immateriale del Grano e del Pane (wheat and bread museum).
A bike ride through the cornfields and the peach orchards is also a great way to spend the day.
Ph. Credits Paolo Barone