Stage 3 | Friday 5 April | 188km
The route winds its way through inland Sicily, with climbs and descents alternating in the final part. The stage has a wavy profile, and features an endless series of bends over the first 120 km.
Roads are variably wide, and the surface is worn out at points. Road pavers may be present in urban areas. The road levels out for a few dozen kilometres, as the route reaches – and crosses – Vittoria and Comiso, then climbs up again to tackle the Serra di Burgio climb. A fast-running descent into Ragusa leads all the way to the stage finale within the city.
The last 6 km descend all the way to Ibla. Here, the route begins to climb towards the city centre on narrow roads, with stone pavers at some points, and gradients of 3-4% topping out at 12%. In the steepest stretch, the roadway is narrowed but well-surfaced. Over the last 2 km, the route descends briefly and then goes up again with mild gradients all the way to the finish. The home stretch is 300 m long, on 6 m wide, flat and asphalt road.
When visiting Caltanissetta, you should definitely take a walk through the old town. Stop by Piazza Garibaldi, at the corner of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Corso Umberto, to visit the Cathedral (dedicated to S Maria la Nova e and to S. Michele) and the 16-century church of S. Sebastiano (whose façade was remodelled in the 19th century).
Walking down Corso Umberto and taking Via Matteotti, you will encounter one of the most iconic monuments of the city, Palazzo Moncada. This noble mansion was built in 1635 by request of Guglielmo Moncada, count of Caltanissetta. Let your gaze linger on the finely decorated balconies on the top floor before you go back to Piazza Garibaldi. Then continue towards the eastern end of Corso Vittorio Emanuele, to reach the church of Santa Croce. From here, walk down Via S. Domenico and through the narrow mediaeval alleys of the S. Francesco neighbourhood, all the way to the 15-century church and convent of S. Domenico. At the end of the walk, you can stop briefly for refreshment by the tree-lined Viale Regina Margherita, at the historic emporium producing one of the tastiest street food specialties in Caltanissetta – panelle (chickpea fritters), often paired with mafalda traditional bread.
Lying at the heart of Val di Noto, in the south-east of the island, Ragusa is the southernmost provincial capital in Italy. Nestled in a territory that is a treasure chest of natural and architectural splendour, the city lies on the Monti Iblei, near the course of river Irminio, whose outlet belongs to a nature reserve that is found between Marina di Ragusa and Donnalucata. Baroque architecture, marked by an opulent use of decorations on vaults, columns, capitals and façades, is the artistic hallmark of the territory of Ragusa, where this style became popular and developed after the 1693 earthquake. For this very reason, Ragusa was included in the Unesco World Heritage list in 2002, with an impressive eighteen monuments that were awarded this recognition!
Visiting Ragusa is also an excellent opportunity to sample local cuisine, with traditional delicacies such as scacce (a sort of layered focaccia, seasoned with tomato sauce, basil and cheese), and the famous provola ragusana.