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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tagesk, Dec 9, 2007.
Keep me drooling, why don't you ! ! ! ! !
Today we are finally going to Sicilia!
We settle the bill. At 100 euro for a room and nice dinner we as OK. The capuccino is nice but the dolce leaves something to be desired. We excuse them, of course, becuase it is early on a Sunday morning. They are so nice! But finally we are ready to ride off.
It is a nice day and we don't get on the Autostrada, but take the old SS18 along the coast towards Villa San Giovanni. The road is really twisty as it passes from village to the next, up and down the cliffs. And then we come around a curve, and we finally see Sicilia! Finally!
Sicilia greets us with the biggest tower I have ever seen. The picture is taken about 6 km away (sorry about the quality). Check out the city below the tower! There is one above us as well, here on the mainland. I guess they have been used, or will be used, to carry cables for electricity across the streight. Surely, a cable under the water will be much less expensive? It is only a few kilometers! This huge tower becomes part of a pattern - I'll return to it later.
In Villa San Giovanni you simply can't fail to locate the ferry - there doesn't seem to be much else going on. We pay 10 euro for two persons and the bike, and roll on. The crossing only takes about 30 minutes.
We are excited as we roll into Messina, and take the old SS114 south. The city never ever ends. Street upon street, not excactly suburbia, but normal streets, traffic lights, traffic, puke.
We turn off and climb a hill to see what it going on. There is a thin line of buildings along the coast, and the SS114 goes in the middle of it all the time. In summer those beaches would probably be filled to the rim of prople. Now we are all alone.
We continue south and reach Taormina. We park by the main city gate, and walk inside. Just to our left is a tiny, narrow street, and we spot a bar. Time for lunch!
We enter Sunrise, in via Zecca 7, phon +39 094224663. Now, Sunrise is a really ugly name for an Italian bar in Italy. But we are in the thickest of the tourist area in Sicilia. Taormina is world famous for it's Greek theater, it's small Roman theater, and everything connected with them. So in some sense we are not any longer in the real Sicilia, but the tourist Sicilia. Another place. One we don't want to be in.
This, by the way, is a general thing: Italy is full of tourists, and what they are offered is in most cases of inferior quality. So, in general, don't visit a bar with a name such as Sunrise. We nevertheless went in, and what a good thing that was! The bar was ordinary. Even though we did not plan to stay in Taormina I asked if the owner happened to have a friend with a B&B. He does indeed, and this, as we wil see, will become a golden pice of information. I don't know I will have breakfast here tomorrow, so we are happy to get out of the touristic place Taormina is.
I have never seen a live vulcano before, and I find Etna to be real cool. Well, it is cold to look at with an elevation of more than 3.000 meters, but there is smoke coming out on the top. So I guess it is not cool at all up there. While I don't smoke a sigar I sit for a long time and look at Etna. I like it!
We ride on, through more streets, more streets, more buildings, more people. Catania is a very large (in size) city.
At about five (sunset is at six) we decide to take our usual approach to find accomodation. We find a town (not just a village, and not a city, but a town) on the map, and ride there. We'll talk to people, and find a cosy place. Well before dark - then everyting becomes difficult.
We choose Lentini. We see the town nicely situated on a hill south-east of Catania, about 10 km from the coast. We estimate it to have 20.000 people. We are, however, going to learn something important about Sicilia. And the temperature is already dropping.
The economy in Sicilia is obviously smaller than in Toscana. The cars are smaller (abundance of Fiat Panda while in Toscana most have upgraded to VW Golf or Toyota), millions of small shops that are quickly disappearing where we live, and so on. This also has consequences for what you do when you visit your family. I can not phantom a town in Toscana with 20.000 people without a single hotel, not a single B&B, not an Albergo, nothing! We ride around in Lentini for almost one hour, talking to ever more people, and they all say that No, there is nowhere here to stay the night. We consult Zumo, and he confirms it.
At 18:30 we realize that we have failed. It is now only 5 C (41F) and we will have to rely on Mr. Zumo. First he takes us to a hotel next to what is called Vilaggio Nato. Sounds nice until we realize it must be spelled as Villaggio NATO. It is an NATO air base. I have nothing against airbases, but staying at a hotel designed for visitors to an airbase - no thanx. The next one Zumo suggests is the Hotel Bianco. Turns out to be a Autostrada Hotel and Conference Center. Rooms at 120 euro, and all information in English. No thanx.
It is now 20:00, it's about zero, and we are getting very, very cold and hungry. I dig out the card I got in the bar in Taormina, call, and we are on our way. We pick the Autostrada and at 150 km/t arrive back in Taormina in 30 minutes. There Enrico meets us, lets us park the GS in his garage next to his brand new BMW K1200RS, and give us an appartment. He runs B&B Fontana Vecchia, via D. H. Lawrence 8, 98039 Taormina (ME), phone +39 094224116, mobile +39 3398142283. Webste here. Very nice indeed.
After having changed we walk back into town. Capa della Famiglia is very, very cold. As expected we can't find anything that even resebles the nice and copy places we prefer. In the end we settle for Terrazza Angela. It even has candles on the tables - one of the most trustworthy signs of a touristic place you can find in Italy.
I had only a risotto with gamberetti and orange (very interesting combination!) and pollo con funghi e panna while She takes a simple pizza. Together a whopping 50 euro. I told you - stay away from those places! Look at the picture and check out how cold She is!
We decided to try to learn something from this experience. First and foremost: We need better planning. This is not Toscana, and we can not expect to find an albergo on every corner. Also, we have underestimated the cold (it is supposed to be warm here, dammit!) so we need to find somewhere to stay well before it gets dark.
As we shall see, during the rest of the trip we succeed!
349 km on a very cold Sunday. Our first day on/in Sicilia. We didn't see anything grand, didn't eat anything worth remembering. Not looking good.
I'm from Catania, and I must say you made a wrong choice with lentini .
While in eastern Sicily you won't be disappointed with Etna (beautiful tarmac roads till 2000m above sea level, awesome landscapes) and small villages around the mountain (Randazzo, Bronte), you can visit Catania city center (beware of crazy traffic though): piazza Duomo with its Cathedral and the statue of the elaphant in lava stone, piazza università (one the oldest italian universities, founded in 1434), via etnea with its liberty and baroque buildings, the typical fish-market (open only in the morning, beware of pickpockets!).
Going south you don't have to miss Siracusa, the biggest of ancient Greece colonies, a lot of ancient greek ruins to visit (greek theater and beautiful ruins of the ancient town), the city center is on an island (Ortigia) with a lot of small streets and buildings, a beautiful place to walk in the evening and small restaurants where to eat sea-food.
Another village not to miss is Noto, its center is full of baroque buildings as well as Modica city center (famous for its chocolate) and Ragusa Ibla.
You can also visit the natural reserve of Vendicari, Marzamemi a small fisher village and Isola delle Correnti, the southern point of Italy whose latitude is lower than Tunis.
Also in eastern Sicily don't miss "La villa romana del Casale" near Piazza Armerina a very well preserved ancient roman villa, recently discovered, covered with beautiful mosaics.
The first day didn't go so well. But there are may days left and it went uphill continously from here on. I'll write one post for every day so hang on for outstanding experiences in Sicilia.
Teaser: Tomorrow we will go to Siricusa and Noto - wonderful !
Thank you for reading!
tagesk, did u have a look at Giardini Naxos as I told you for an albergo ?
Vicina a Taormina and prices are far better than in Taormina.
Did u ask siciliani on QdE ? they are usually very helpful. A lot of guys are from Sicilia East coast.
Apart from that, there is nothing really to see in GN. Only some remains of the gardens of the greek city of Naxos.
Cold... Ah cold.... so you learn why sicilian are so strong.
you seldom see heater in rooms....
When we call an albergo I ask:
Safe parking for the bike
Cena in walking distance
In that order. We quickly learned to add 3). Second, I learned that I was unable to understand anything they say. Even when they speak to me like I was a child, I fail to understand. The dialect is so different from the Tuscan I speak. It was really strange.
this thread deserves way more stars
Nice report, Tagesk. I'll be taking the Genoa-Palermo ferry in late April for about a week in Sicily. This will be my third trip to Sicily, but I still have a lot to see. Keep the hotel and restaurant info coming.
(note the scale in the lower right-hans corner; it is different from the maps added for the previous days)
After the first day here in Sicilia that didn't go so well, the bitter cold combined with bad planning made the afternoon feel completely wasted, we woke up to new possibilities. I, for my part, was (secretly) happy. This thing is that Capa della Famiglia has problem with a hip. Thus there are two things she dislikes: Walking around for hours looking at things, and getting on and off the bike. The result is that when we arrive some place it is unlikely that I can manage to drag her around more than a few blocks. Second, there will be few pictures featuring the bike.
When I ride alone, part of the fun is to get off the bike, check if it will become a nice shot, move the bike a little, ride to the other side, and so on. With her that is not an option. Thus, there are less photos than what I usually hav in my reports.
For those who remember how Day 3 ended, we were cold, cold, cold, and lost, lost, lost, and having spend a long, long, long time in Lentini (not very attractive, to say the least), but in the end we sere saved by havin picked up a business card a bar in Taormina, thus we found B&B Fontana Vecchia, via D. H. Lawrence 8, 98039 Taormina (ME), phone +39 094224116, mobile +39 3398142283. Very nice!
Next day, day 4, after a nice and warm night, we return to Sunrise, in via Zecca 7, phon +39 094224663, for breakfast. The owner makes an above-average capuccino and offers fresh dolce.
As you can see, I have my riding jacket on (cold in the morning) but you can't see that I am wearing jeans. The thing is that Taorina was a little too touristic for our taste. But as we got back there anyway, I grabbed the opportunity to visit the large Greek theater. The Romans later added and expanded on it, but in general terms it is well over 2.000 years old. The shot above is a classic one, with the vulcano Etna in the background.
Here is another with some people to get the scale of things (check the red ring).
While I marvel at the Greek theater, Capa della Famiglia captures some houses and streets. Notice that on the house on the second picture, both the windows and the flowers have been painted on the walls!
We return to the bar Sunrise for espresso. There we are approached by a man, who asks if we are the Norwegians living at Vecchia Fontana. He is the brother of Enrico that we met yesterday. He tells us to just call him when we want to get the bike of of storage. Any time!
We enjoy the coffee, return to the B&B, change, and call him. He turns up in minutes, and we go in his car to fetch the bike. The garage is owned by his mother. So by sleeping there we haev met two brothers and used a favor of the mother. I love Sicilia!
We finally get going, and ride south along the coast. After having passed Catania, we arrive safe and well in Siracusa (wikipedia here). For me, it is sufficient to know the city was founded 734 BC. Here Bamsefar (that is the bike) was captures just outside the Old City. There is a nice bike-only parking there, down by the sea, on the south side. One can-not get in with a car and I think a lrage and heavy bike will be very safe there. We left the bike and went looking for lunch
We found a trattoria with full-size Greek men making up the scenery, but for some reason Capa della Famiglia foudn the place both more familiar-looking and inviting that I did Anyway, there were noone else there so we walked on.
We found a nice bar on Piazza Archimede, but I have lost the receipt so I don't know the name. What looks like a dolce isn't, but rather filled with prociutto (one crudo and one cotto). It really Adds Life to sit on a piazza, surrounded by locals (but, alas, I couldn't understand a word - the dialect is simply too strong for my Tuscan ear), having lunch, in the sun, together with Capa delle Famiglia, on vacation. If you look closely you might notice I am waring a safety west. You are free to spank me for not taking it off when venturing away from the bike - ugly as Hell. Afterwards, while not having a sigarillo with my espresso, I write some postcards that will never be sent for reasons that will be explained later.
Because of our negative experience yesterday in Lentini, we decide it is time to pick another small town to visit. As our aim for the day is to get to Noto, we pick one at random. We ride up to Palazzolo Acreide. Founded by the Greek in 664 BC, it also sports a theater, a Necropolis, and so on. Never heard about Palazzolo Acreide? I haven't either, but even this village out in nowhere has more historical remains, including a nice Baroque church to make sure all important periods have left their mark, than more medium sized countries in the rest of the world.
Now, of all things, we stumble on Bonaiuto in the main street. It is a combined bar, and (hold you hat) a book-café. The styling is modern and light, huge windows, jazz inside, excellent coffe, afternoon dolce, and so on. If you are nearby, go there!
Parking on the sidewalk obviously isn't allowed, but as in Italy in general, if there is nowehere else to park... Noone seemed to mind.
We are going to Noto, for two reasons. First we want to see the Baroque city. Second, in our guide, we have found a B&B there. On the way we stop in Noto Antica (the Old Noto). It was a city well before the Greeks arrived (old, old, old) and situated on a easy to defend top of a mountain. The city was totally destroyed by the earthquake 11. january 1693. It was decided to rebuild the town closer to the sea, and thus this very large pile of ruins are left for us to see. It has been a Sicel town (wiki here), Greek, Roman, Arab and Norman. There is a 360 degree view from within the city. Worth a visit!
We ride down into the "modern" Noto. Just outside the historical centre we check in at Villa Canisello, via Pavese 1, 96017 Noto (SR), tlf +39 0931835793 (homepage here). The owner speaks English, and the picture above is the terrasse outside our room. The standard is good, there is even a radiator (!) and it is only ten minutes to walk to the historical center. Excellent!
We start with an apperitivo on the main piazza, after having visited the large Duomo. It is completely white on the inside (very un-Baroque!) but we learn that it collapsed in 1996 and was opened again after having being rebuilt as late as last year.
Then dinner in a small place with a lot of Italiand having dinner in two small rooms. The place is Trattoria ls Buca. I had lasagne while Capa had salsicce, then I had grlled pesce spada in maniere siciliana while Capa had minestrone. Wine and water. Less than 50 euro. The food is "richer", more tasteful than what we have in Toscana. I like it.
The picture shows a ADVrider after a long day and a very nice dinner. Ready for bed!
The last thing we do is to check that the Bamsefar is still safely parked. The parking is inside the gate and not visible from the street so it is not very surprising that it is still there.
After conjucal responsibilities has been taken care of (dinner and so on ) I lay in bed and think about what I have seen today. It strikes me that the single most characteristic thing must be the thousand of kilometers of white stone walls I have seen. When I think about it, the landscape is so full of them that I have failed to notice. They are just there. I must try to snap a photo of them tomorrow.
208 km on a very nice day. I love Sicilia.
Tomorrow, Day 5, we visit Modica, Ragusa Ibla, we meet a man from Milano in Comiso', we become depressed in Gela, and arrive in Agrigento where we meet an owner of a R1200GS.
208 km today. Thank you for your attention.
The map is here.
(Make sure you check out the scale in the lower right-hand corner)
After a very noisy and fully satisfying night at Villa Canisello, via Pavese 1, 96017 Noto (SR) (website here)
we get up and check out the very nice terrasse outside. It has been cold, but we haven't noticed at all (for
several reasons - one being the heating). The room was nice and clean, and even more important in
February: Well heated.
Regardless of what the bedroom has to offer, I wake early, get dressed, and walk over to Noto. The Baroque
city is even more beautiful in the soft morningn light. But none of my images came out great so you'll have to
trust me on this one.
We head down for breakfast, and notice that spring has arrived in Sicilia. On a small B&B in February, when season is in
July, breakfast can be so-so. But not here! An abundance of fresh bread, home-made jams (lemon, orange and fichi (figs),
all from the garden), fresh fruit, fresh coffee, and a pleasent and welcoming young man that was there just for us. And
rather than a lame Italian radio station, he played a recording of Paganini perfeormed in the italian Parliament. Probably
All Time High from that venue!
As we are settling the 50-euro bill, we experience what will end up becoming a pattern: He is very interested in how
we found his B&B, talks about his business, brings us a small bag with oranges and mandarini from the garden, takes
to say hello to his wife, shows us his (very old) kitchen, and so on. We are awash friendliness and we really feel both
special and welcome. Needless to say, I can recommend Villa Canisello to anyone!
But on a different line: Not everything we saw in Sicilia was bliss. I have a few things to note. Let me take the most
disturbing first. When seated in a trattoria having cena (dinner), the cosy setting can be completely shattered by the
fact that at the next table a gang of men having dinner drink.....Coke. To our disbelief, on Sicilia, as opposed to
Toscana, you can see people drinking Coca Cola. Also with food
Now the disgusting thing about Coke hasn't anything to do with (a consived feeling of) imperialism og capitalism, but
rather with estetics. Coke is an ugly looking, mass-produced, low-quality beverage aimed at children (that's why it is
sweet!) with all sorts of stuff added.
A cold Coke might (might!) be not completely awful on a hot summer day on the beach. But with risotto at a trattoria
in Sicilia? But, here I am so there you are. We saw more Coke during a week in Sicilia that we have seen in five
years in Toscana. I would very much like to know whay it is like this
OK - enough negative vibes for today (I have some more, but we'll take them tomorrow).
We leave Noto and ride down to the coast. We see million of kilometers of white stone walls, and talk about the need
to find a nice spot to get the bike with them. Later later. From the coast we head inland again. Our commercialista
(the one who helps you keep tax authorities on an arms distance - you really, really want one if you do business in
Italy!), his wife was born in Sicilia. And he told us we simply had to go to Ragusa Ibla.
On the way we passed over a bridge, and below we suddenly saw a wunderful city. We stopped and checked - it
was Modica. We decide to run down the valley after having visited Ragusa.
Getting back to old things (you know I love them!). Here is a (very) short intro from Wikipedia:The origins of Ragusa can be traced back to the 2nd millennium BC, when in its area there were several
settlements of the ancient Sicels. The current Ragusa Ibla lies probably on one of them, identified as
Hybla Heraia. The ancient city, located on a 300 m high hill, entered in contact with the nearby Greek
colonies, and developed thanks to the nearby port of Camerina. After a short Carthaginian rule, it was
administrated by the Romans and the Byzantines: the latter fortified the city and built a large castle.
Ragusa was occupied by the Arabs in 848 AD, remaining under their rule until the 11th century,
when the Normans conquered it. Selected as County seat, its first Count was Geoffrey, son
of Count Roger I of Sicily.
And about the part that is named Ragusa Ibla:Ragusa Ibla hosts a wide array of Baroque architecture, including several stunning palaces
Stunning is what I call a promising description!
We get there, and it is stunning for sure. After a while we walk into a bar for an espresso. Again are we
flooded with hospitality. It turns out the owner has a Harley Davidson (the bike on the left), his wife runs
the bar, his friends drop in, and we are all having a good time. Just as it seems that you can expect
when you walk into a random bar outside of season and ask for a coffee. In Sicilia, that is. I simply love it!
After Ragusa Ibla we ride down a narrow valley, and arrive at Modica. Old? Wikipedia says:According to Thucydides, the city was founded in 1360 BC or 1031 BC and was inhabited by
the Sicels circa the 7th century BC. It was probably from an early period a dependency of Syracuse.
Modica was occupied by the Romans after the battle of the Egadi islands against the Carthaginians in
the Punic Wars 241 BC, together with Syracuse and all the Sicily.
Old enough for me.
We ride on the far side of the valley, and stop to look at the city. It is stunning! Just behind me you see the
main church, in Baroque style. You cant' see the stairs properly, but they "flow" down. Very nice.
Two old ladies come by, and immediately engages in a long conversation about what to see, where to go,
where to eat, and what to eat when we get there, where we come from, where we have been, whre we are
going, and so on, et cetera. If we exclude the possibility that it was my handsome appearence that got them
interested, we saw yet another example of Sicilian hospitality and friendliness. Unfortunately, their dialect was
strong so we didn't understand much of what they said. That didn't stop them from talking or us from
enjoying being with them. Yes, they were short by my standards (no, the bike is not on the center stand!).
We ride on. We are on a high plain, and as we ride westwards it suddenly ends and we start decending. At the
bottom of the decent we come to Comiso'. We stop at a bar for some lunch.
The owner has several large pictures of a child on the walls, and tells us that for him, the son, he has left Milano.
It is not possible to live in Milano with a small child. The winters are too cold with snow and ice while the
summers too damp and hot. Smog and traffic.
No, la Dolce Vita is here, in Sicilia. In a few weeks I can take him swimming in the sea, he says and smiles
from ear to ear. He then makes us fresh panini.
As we leave Comiso' we notice that thre are no moew white stone walls to be seen. We decide to stop and
take the picture at the first possible occation to make sure we don't have to leave Sicilia without one.
But we had to - we didn't see any more. Next time, I promise!
We continue westwards, and arrive in Gela. Wikipedia says: The city was founded around 688 BC by
colonists from Rhodos (Rhodes) and Crete, 45 years after Syracuse.
Old enough for me. But Wikipedia also says:After the war, a large oil refinery was built in the Gela's territory, as a part of Enrico Mattei's industrial
expansion plan. This move tried to help the economy of the region, but instead it created significant
damage to the area's visual appearance and touristic appeal. The chaotic building program, which
was carried out in the absence of a planning process, created almost intractable social problems.
In the 1980s, the area saw the increasing power of a mafioso association, Stidda, which was
protagonist of a long series of violences and homicides. In December 2001, as part of a large
anti-mafia operation led by the provincial carabinieri, 88 arrest warrants were carried out and a
number of companies associated with Gela's Rinzivillo mafia clan were seized under suspicion of
money laundering and drug trafficking. The strong mafia influence in the city is partly responsible
for the Gela's lack of tourism, with attempts to invest in the local tourism industry (through the
creation of hotels etc.) being repeatedly, and mysteriously, blocked.
It was odd - we stopped at a bar, and we didn't know anything about Gela's reputation. But we didn't feel welcome.
A quick coffee and we're off. We did not venture down any of the side street such as the one you see above. It
was truly ugly!
We continue west, and arrive at our destination: Agrigento. Another Greek colony, and world famous.
Todays last citation from Wikipedia:Ancient Akragas covers a huge area — much of which is still unexcavated today — but is exemplified
by the famous Valle dei Templi ("Valley of the Temples", a misnomer, as it is a ridge, rather than a valley).
This comprises a large sacred area on the south side of the ancient city where seven monumental Greek temples
in the Doric style were constructed during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. Now excavated and partially restored,
they constitute some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek buildings outside of Greece itself. They are
listed as a World Heritage Site.
In the picture above you see one temple on the right-hand edge and one on the left. Both stand on the ridge.
We'll go there tomorrow!
With the help of Zumo we quicky found Albergo Belvedere, via S. Vito 12, 92100 Agrigento, phone [SIZE=-1]+39 0922 20051[/SIZE]. It
has two names: The other is Palma B&B. The hotel is old and in need of restore, but we roll the bike into their garage
and get a gorgous room with a view of both the sunset and the city. We watch the sunset, then shower, and start
looking for dinner.
We need a newspaper, and then we meet this fantastic guy. He gives us the link that we should have had before
we left. It is www.siciliainmoto.it. The site is full of useful information for bikers. Next time.
Later sends us a picture of himself and his bike. Not a bad bike at all I would say.
Obviously we ask him for advice. He apologises, and says that the best place to eat has the dreadful name of
Manhattan. But it was a goldmine!
For primo She had a sicilian pasta wrapped in aluminium folium while I had a pasta with a sicilian salsa of
pomodoro and peas. Then She has filetto grigliata while I had filetto con funghi e aracia (the latter was
excellent!). The wine was local, dark, and strong. Then some pecorino and Marsala.
The last image clearly shows how content an ADVrider can be after many hours int he Sicilian sun, followed
by a large dinner with a powerful wine.
Tomorrow we will visit Greek temples, then ride to Marsala in order to drink Marsala in Marsala, and then on to Trapani.
Thank you for your attention!
Map is here.
Just reading about the food you had down in Italy makes me hungry.
Your report remind me of this guy.
(The map shows just a small part of Sicilia - maintain you sense of scale by checking the scale in the lower
right-hand corner) All pictures have their associated text below the image.
Yesterday it was Coca Cola. Today I will menion another odd thing we saw in Sicilia (and Calabria for that
matter): Vast infrastructures. Let me start with Calabria: The Autostrada that is being built from Napoli to
Reggio di Calabria is probably the largest construction site I have seen in my life. And it goes on for, what?,
500 km. There is little traffic, there is already an existing Autostrada, and a new one is being built. As taxpayer
I get a physical impact of the huge amount of my tax-euro that are being sunk into that project.
In Sicilia they also have (very!) impressive Autostrada. With very, very impressive bridges. However, most of
them seems to be completely superflous. See, for example, the one in the middle above. OUt in nowhere, far
from anything, someone has felt the need of a (very) large bridge to facilitate a turn in the road. In addition,
but I was unable to snap a photo of that because I was standing on it, the road with the curve, which is not
an Autostrada, enters the Autostrada just where I had stopped. But that is ALSO on a bridge. So the ramps on
both sides are themselves huge bridges. Unfortunately I didn't see that in time. The need to have the exit just
there, in mid air, does not at all seem reasonable. In fact, it seems to be a complete wast of the euros I have
payed in taxes after having scraped them together.
But the bridges Per Se - that is another story. Ever since I 20 years ago I read "Structures: Or why things don't
fall down" (Amazon) I have been facinated by, well, structures. Thus I marveled when looking at the huge
structures that you see in teh landscape. Go get a grip of the scale, look at the electricity mast on one picture
(it is slightly behing the pillar, but not more than 50 meters or so) and the large truck on the op the other (the
house you see is several kilometer closer than the bridge). I would like to believe that it is well planned and
not a result of waste, but I am not convinced. Oh well. Let's have breakfast!
As I told you yesterday, we have stayed the night at Albergo Belvedere, via S. Vito 12, 92100
Agrigento, phone [SIZE=-1]+39 0922 20051[/SIZE]. It has two names: The other is Palma B&B. They offer breakfast,
but they offer no soul. It is not like yesterday at Villa Canisello, via Pavese 1, 96017 Noto (SR) (website here).
Thus, we head off to the Greek temples. There is a bar discretely set at the side, and we sit down in the sun.
A good cappuccino makes most problems in the world seem smaller.
I won't bore you with too much archeological stuff, but you need to know that these temples are from about
500 BC. The picture shows only one out of seven. More info here and here. In the background you can see the
modern Agrigento. About 50.000 people live here today. I find it cool that 2.500 years ago the city was at least
six times larger :eek1 Agrigento was destroyed by Carthago about 200 years before the Romans came.
We get back to the hotel, roll out the bike, load up, and depart. We aim for Trapani, but there is one
thing I would like to do before we get there: Drink Marsala in Marsala. I love Marsala (the wine), and
the idea is that drinking Marsale (the wine) in Marsala (the city) will be the proper thing to do.
Before we get to Marsala we encunter some rain. We stop at a bar and have a light lunch while we wait
for it to pass. I hate those things: An unplanned lunch is rarely a good one. And this is no exception. Not
bad, but nothing worth remembering. And this is the thing: If a place and a meal isn't worth remembering,
then it isn't worth having. There are enough nice places to visit.
Oh well, we get to Marsala (also a very old city), and the picture above was taken at a nice bar in Marsala,
just as I order a (small) glass of Marsala. I am already dreaming about the sigar I will refrain from enjoying
with this Marsala here in Marsala.
But, Lo and Behold, when I asked for a small glass of Marsala they replied they didn't have it! It seems that
so few people in Marsala drink Marsala that the bars don't even have a bottle on the shelf for the
once-a-year tourist! As you can see, I sit slightly depressed outside not wanting the sigar any less. In fact,
I wanted the sigar even more!
Can you imagine not being able to get a Cognac in Cognac? Or not a Port in Porto? Or not a Barolo in
Barolo? Or not a Brunello di Montalcino in Montalcino? Argh - when I savour the water I bought instead
I don't lke the Sicilians at all.
BTW: The jacket has seen a decade of action and I think I need a new one.
But my state of depression is blown away a little while later. From Marsala (the city) without Marsala
(the wine) we ride over to Trapani. There we stop at B&B Novecento, via Conte A. Pepoli 80, 91100
Trapani, phone +39 3406264834 (website here). Very clean, very nice, computer with Internet for finding
tomorrows accomodation, large terrace, and a gentle English-speaking host. What more can you ask?
Ah - yes: Garage. No problem!
For cena (dinner) we walk a few meters and sit down at a place with an odd name: Vecchia America.
Fortunately it isn't called "Old America", so we'll let it pass without further ado. You'll find it at via Conta
A. Pepoli 154.
We start with antipasti al buffet. Different vegetables prepared in a variety of ways. Surprisingly
good - these things are ofter boring, but here everything was fatta a casa! Then She had rigatoni
with a Trapanese tomato-cream saus while I had Ravioli with a saus al mare. Then She had a large
salad while I had scaloppine al limone. To this a local red alla casa.
And then, finally, they cut me some pecorino (both prima sale and seconda sale - fresh and salted), and
Marsala (the wine). Knowing what the evening still has to offer when we get back to the B&B, and
knowing careful attention that has gone into preparing what I have just eaten, the Marsala is simply
the ultimate thing!
I advice you to ride to Trapani, and drink Marsala, after a good meal. It is worth the detour!
Tomorrow we will visit the temple at Segesta, reflecting on Segesta's role in the worst massacre
that took place during the thousand years we call Antiquity, and ride along the coast almost back
to Messina where we landed on the island some days ago.
188 km today.
Thank you for your attention.
Absolutely a great report with some fantastic photos!
Wow - this is a triple drooler -
Scenically, historically, and gastronomically!
We wake up to day seven, after having slept well and inexpensive at B&B Novecento, via Conte A. Pepoli 80,
91100 Trapani, phone +39 3406264834 (website here). The plan for the day is to ride along the north coast of
Sicilia more or less to Messina (where we will take the boat back to the mainland tomorrow).
But before I ambark on todays ADVentures I have to discuss another of the ugly things we saw in Sicilia.
For some ugly reason, Sicilia is full of half-finished but abandoned buildings. I am not talking about
ruins, or not maintained buildings. No these are properly built, but abandoned things. Many of them
are large. Now, the reason I bring this up, is that I am talking about thousands! In every little village
and in every town you'll see them. We speculated wildly on what can make such amount of resources
to be wasted, and again my taxpayer-soul gets this uncomfortable feeling. I will very much like to be
Enough of negative things - let us talk about something more fulfiling: Wine.
Marsala (the wine) aside, we drank two wines on this vacation: Bianco d'Alcamo (a white) and Nero
d'Avolo (a red). The former (Alcamo) is a town while the latter (Nero d'Avolo) is a grape. Both are
much stronger and powerful than most wines from Toscana. Nothing wrong with Chianti (the wine)
but in Sicilia, where the food has more taste, more power is needed.
As we rode from Trapani east we saw a lot of vines. It is too early for a nice photo, but they were
working on the fields preparing the vines for spring. Obviously they will look much better in a few
months when the fields are lush green. But I have included a few images so you can get an understanding
of what it looks like. I look forward to the warm summer afternoons, when we have huge lunches
in our garden, with mighty grilled Bistecca Fiorentina, then I'll try out some of these Sicilian reds.
If you know anything about Trapani, you should now Say "Hey, Hey, HEY - hold on a minute. Are you leaving
Trapani without a visit to Erice?" Is it old? Her is Wikipedia: The ancient name of Erice was Eryx, and its foundation was associated with the eponymous Greek hero Eryx. It was not a Greek colony, but was largely Hellenized. It was destroyed in the First Punic War (264 to 241 BC) by the Carthaginians, and from then on declined in importance.
The problem is that the weather forcast says "Trapani: Rain in the afternoon". If it one thing Capa della Famigla does not like, then it is rain while she is on the bike. For a variaty of reasons. Thus we depart from Trapani in the morning to make sure we escape it.
And, in fact, when we arrive in the evening we hear it had been raining all afternoon in Trapani. So no Erice.
However, RyanAir flies to Trapani from Pisa so a weekend trip is no problem.
We continue east, and arrive at Segesta. Today there is nothing there but a completely unscratched Greek
temple. The city itself was located on the hill you see in the lower of the two pictures. Segesta is (very!)
old. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:The unfinished hexastyle doric temple of Segesta, (late 5th century BC) is built on a hilltop just
outside the ancient city of Segesta with a commanding view of the surrounding area. It is one of
the best-preserved Greek temples, partly because of its isolation— there was never any temptation
to dilapidatit it for local building materials— and never desecrated because it had never been completed. It would be a peripteral temple if it had ever had an enclosed cella within it. But it was never roofed over, and its columns stand in the rough, waiting to be fluted.
It was built by the Elymian people, probably around 430-420 BC, but it was never completed.
Isn't odd that something this large wasn't finished? Maybe it is a very old tradition in Sicilia to have half-finished but abandoned buildings filling up the scenery? However, the history is less cosy and more bloody. Here is more from Wikipedia:Segesta was in eternal conflict with Selinus (modern Selinunte), which probably tried to assure itself a port on the Tyrrhenian Sea. The first clashes were in 580-576 BC, and again in 454 BC, but later the conflict would have repercussions for all of Sicily.
In 415 BC Segesta asked Athens for help against Selinunte, leading to a disastrous Athenian expedition in Sicily (415-413 BC). Later they asked Carthage for help, leading to the total destruction of the city of Selinunte by the hands of Carthage.
Notice that the temple was build circa 430 BC. In 415 BC Segesta asked Athens for help. Or, with other words, the Greek temple was built to appease the Greek. When the Athenians don't arrive to assist, Segesta instead ask Carthage for help. Here is what happens:The defeat of the Athenian armament left the Segestans apparently at the mercy of their rivals; they in vain attempted to disarm the hostility of the Selinuntines by ceding without further contest the frontier district which had been the original subject of dispute. But the Selinuntines were not satisfied with this concession, and continued to press them with fresh aggressions, for protection against which they sought assistance from Carthage. This was, after some hesitation, accorded them, and a small force sent over at once, with the assistance of which the Segestans were able to defeat the Selinuntines in a battle. (Diod. xiii. 43, 44.) But not content with this, the Carthaginians in the following spring (409 BCE) sent over a vast army amounting, according to the lowest estimate, to 100,000 men, with which Hannibal Mago (the grandson of Hamilcar that was killed at Himera) landed at Lilybaeum, and from thence marched direct to Selinus. The Selinuntines were wholly unprepared to resist such a force; so little indeed had they expected it that the fortifications of their city were in many places out of repair, and the auxiliary force which had been promised by Syracuse as well as by Agrigentum (modern Agrigento) and Gela, was not yet ready, and did not arrive in time. The Selinuntines, indeed, defended themselves with the courage of despair, and even after the walls were carried, continued the contest from house to house; but the overwhelming numbers of the enemy rendered all resistance hopeless; and after a siege of only ten days the city was taken, and the greater part of the defenders put to the sword. Of the citizens of Selinus we are told that 16,000 were slain, 5,000 made prisoners, and 2,600 under the command of Empedion escaped to Agrigentum. (Diod. xiii. 54-59.).
The point is, Carthago (which, by the way, is in Africa) was not at all interested in a Greek temple. So the Segestians abandoned it. It must have been terrible to sit on the other hill and look at this half-finished and abandoned building and thinking about the amnout of resources that had been wasted. Life sucks, I guess.
To get an idea of the size, check out the person I managed to get "on film".
Capa della Famiglia is considerable less interested in Old Things than I am. She is relaxing down at the bar, having hot tea and reading. But as you can see from the pictures, the sun is not shining and the weather is not as nice as we want it to be. We decide to just turn onto the Autostrada and run over to the B&B where we have booked the night. Take a nap, walk around, and look forward to dinner.
I ask Zumo to tell me, and she does. However, someone has forgotten to uncheck the "Avoid Autostrada"-button in the routing menu. And as I don't pay attention (that is, after all, what I bought Zumo to do for me) we suddenly find ourself downtown Palermo. Also in Palermo there are wunderful things to see. But not from the bike during rush hour while we believe we'll be out on the Autostrada any moment. Important lesson learned there :huh
Finally, much delayed, which obviously destroyed the lunch, we arrive at B&B Monika, via P. Mascagni 1, 98040 Torregrotta (ME), phone +39 0909911289. With the bike securely stored, we ask where we can have our dinner; remember this is on of the important questions I always ask. She is slightly ashamed to report that all the places she thought would be open are either closed for the winter, not opern for obscure reasons, or permanently shut down. But, she says, there is a bar nearby and we can have warm panini there. Maybe a stuck of pizze (she is German, thus the 'k' in Monika). We look astonished on her, she gets the message, and does the Sicilian thing. Within minutes her son arrives with his car and offers to take us to a proper trattoria. I love Sicilia again!
We drive through many dark streets and obscure villages, before we arrive at Eidos, via Prov. le Arcipretato 30, 98048 Spadafora (ME), phone +39 0909920553. We ask how we will get back, and the owner says that he, personally, will take us back to the B&B. He knows where it is becuase a friend of a friend....
We decide to go with white and She orders penne con pesce spada (sword fish) in burro and I spaghetti con vongole (shells). She find it to be a little too much butter for her taste, while I am happy.Then she takes involtini da pesce spada while I haev a orate (a white fish) with cozze (shells). We are both happy. For dolce I continue the custom of havingn Marsala (the drink) outside Marsala (the place), with pecorino. The cheese is very stagionata (old) with whole pepper grains in it. Excellent! She has a ice-cake that she enjoys.
Then, as promised, we are taken back to B&B Monika. Can one ask for more?
Yes one can, and I do, and the evening draw to a satisfying close.
Overview of the whole vacation is here. The map is here.
Thank you for your attention.
Although I live in Australia my parents are from Fivizzano. Did you get back there? If not you should try a restaurant called Il Giardinetto in Via Roma. The castle you mention was most likely Verrucola and is owned and occupied by an artist who doesnt like visitors. The paese, however is fascinating.
Buon Viaggio, I also have a GS however our scenery here does not live up to yours.
Not yet, but there has been snow on the passes since I was there in December. But I will, and you'll find a report here.
In fact, just this morning I was thinking of bringing a pair of customers next week to Aulla on the Autostrada and then ride back through Garfagnana. Then a detour to Fivizzano might be just what we need for lunch.
Watch this place for details.
E dica a sua genitori che ora, qui in Toscana, tutti gil alberi sono fioriti.
Take care, and thank you for reading! Hope you like it.
Thank you for your reply.
There is also a Medicean castle in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, near Fivizzano. They do tours of the castle in the afternoon and it is fascinating. There is the Brunello castle in Aulla as well, home to a famous English author whose name escapes me.
As a young man I lived the areas you ride, although I rode them on a 50cc bike. Many memories, many happy times.
I can also recommend Monte Argegna, and Lo Scoiattolo restaurant. A brilliant ride. As you head towards Cerreto, turn right at the lights in Fivizzano.
Also in Fivizzano, Pizzeria Wladimiro. Best pizza in the world. Serious.
I think you've stolen the life I was born to lead. I'm glad to see that it's in good hands. I like the way you write and the things you write about. Keep it coming.
that RR really did whet my appetite. I am planning to ride to Tuscany end of March, well, actually I want to ride south until it gets warm enough. How's the weather end March/beginning of April??