Saturday is our second day, and the plan is to ride from Ceccano just outside Roma and down to the Stretto di Messina (separating Sicilia from the mainland). The plan was to arrive in the (late) afternoon, find a place to stay, so that we could take the boat over to Sicilia from Villa di San Giovanni to Messina Sunday morning.
After having settled the (comfortable!) bill at Hotel La Villa in Ceccano, and promised that if we ever passed through again we would stay the night, we fetched the bike from the back yard where it had been safely stored during the night.
The street in front of the hotel had turned into a vegetable marked, and I had to ride the bike through it. Noone seemed to mind, though. We had breakfast on a bar just there, looking at people. A well-made capuccino, a dolce, and we're ready to go. During the night it has been cold and we see white frost on some cars. We ride with prudence!
As we get some distance between us and the town, we see that it is a very cool and typical hill-top town. The GPS (I love my Zumo) took us spot on so we didn't get to see the town during the evening. And now we don't have the time. Argh - next time. We twist along for a while, but soon turn onto the Autostrada del Sole (A1) again. We have to get down to the south and can't spend the day lurking around up here in Lazio.
We ride well east of Napoli. You don't want to go near Napoli at the moment. The garbage-problems are huge, and growing. And the worst is that everyone seems to be very happy with blaming it all on the Mafia. Thus noone in local goverment have to take any responsibility, the national goverment doesn't have anyone to blame, and things will go on undisturbed. With me, the taxpayer, picking up the growing bill. There are many things to be said about this.
The best Autostrada I have seen in Italy is the Roma - Napoli one. As we pass from the productive North to the, well, South, the roads would get better and better, more and more lanes, taller and taller bridges. And it would get less and less expensive to ride on them. The Salerno - Reggio di Calabria is completely free!
Furthermore, parallell to the existing A3 from Salerno to Reggio di Calabria they are building completely new Autostrada. Almost no cars (I mean, have you ever tried the A1 from Bologna to Milano on a weekday?), and huge roadworks for hundreds of kilometers. I have the feeling that I, the taxpayer, is footing the bill.
We pass Salerno and when we go into the mountains, we turn off the A1 at Lagonegro and head for the coast. There are snow on the peaks and we, for a suitable definition of "we", are afraid it might get even colder. The picture shows Capa della Famiglia enjoying the sun. We're at 800 meters, it is just 10 C, but the sun is nice.
We hit the beach as Tortora. It is a typical summer place, with lots and lots of closed places where you can eat during summer. Finally we find one that is open. We both order the spaghetti con vongole. It is quite good, but I prefer it with a tad of chilipepper to give it "an edge". But nice.
We ride down on the deserted beach. She gets off, and I'll "just" turn around. And I almost, almost get stuck in the sand. You can see the track I made as the rear wheel was slowly sinking as I gave it more and more power. Had it been another 50 cm to solid ground it would have been stuck
Getting stuck just as She says "don't ride onto that sand" would have sucked real bad. Almost no traffic so we make good progress.
We stop and fuel, and grab an espresso. No dolce (merenda) after lunch, but they recommend very highly what looks somewhat like a svoglia, but is filled with fresh ricotta. Not too sweet - but we take one and split it, and not two. After all, it will dinner in a few hours, and spoiling it means disaster!
We check out the map, and as the sun is setting, we find it is time to head back to the Autostrada to get deep south quickly.
On random we turn off at Seminaria, abotu 25 km north of Villa di San Giovanni (where the boat will take us to Messina, Sicilia). But there is nowhere to stay (I'll return to this strange phenonomen later). We ask Zumo, but the suggestions he offers are so boring we'll rather ride on to Reggio di Calabria (a real city).
It is getting real cold as we roam around, and stumble over Hotel La Quiete
, Localita' Profania, 89015 Palmi (RC), phone +39 096646268. This is our thing: Small, family run, friendly. They ask politely why we are, how it can be that we turn up at their little hotel in the middle of the evening, if the bike is a Ducati (no!), and so on. A friend of a friend has been in Lofoten (that's in Norway): it was beautiful but it was so expensive that noone will ever go there. A dinner would easily
run up a bill of 200 euro per person (three courses, a few bottles of water, a bottle or two of wine, some dolce, a grappa or limoncello; here I am so there you are). No so here, they boast boldly.
With the bike safely parked in their garage (and guarded by a dog that didn't look very friendly at all), we head into their restaurant for dinner.
We look cold, and the waiter says that a decent Campari with a (large) dash of gin is just what we need to get the colour back in our cheeks. On an empty stomac it really works, in many ways.
As usual we decline the offer for a menu, and tell him to make us happy. As if the gin + Campari hadn't made us happy already
The cameriere is just as you want one to be far out in the countryside. Interested in who we are, how come we can speak Italian (his English is worse than our Italian), how come we ride on a bike in mid winter, where we come from, where we are going, and so on. We talk, we dine, we drink the wine, and we are very, very happy.
As antipasta he offers warm bread with a chili sauce; we are obviously in Calabria! For primo he serves gnocchi with spek (a combination we hadn't tried before). Secondo was spigola (a fish, just like yesterday) with melanzane with parmeggiano as contorni. For dolce mandarini from the garden. A bottle of local wine on top of the Campari+gin and we were finished.
Next day we found out that a double room, safe parking, Campari+gin and dinner for two was a mere 100 euro. Calabria is a wunderful place to be! But tomorrow we're off to Sicilia!
A total of 579 km.
The map is (still) here