Here we go. Well I had planned to plan day by day. What a plan. And yes, of course – that didn’t really happen. I ended up changing it all as I went along. But let’s start at the beginning: day two on the bike. My plan was to start in Cefalù and continue for a while on the coast all the way to Finale in order to hit a side road and start the “climbing” part. I had no real goal of where I wanted to end up, but more or less was hoping to kill at least 1000m in altitude and then find some sort of refuge for the night. Well there are certain “side-effects” that do come with “side-roads”: on the positive side it is very quiet, hardly any traffic (about 1 motorised vehicle every 30 min max) and on top of that also hardly any people. On the negative side it is very quiet, hardly any traffic and hardly any people. But let me explain: riding into this valley (direction of Botindari) I realized with a bit of a shock within the first 30 minutes that so-called “wild camping” is out of discussion. You wonder why? I saw the dogs. Not any dogs, no, those beautiful, huge, white sheperd dogs (that I had a rather disturbing face to face encouter with last summer in the French Alps). They scare me, they really do. Besides that there was really nowhere to camp “wild” – it was just the road and fences (thanks god for the fences) and sheep and cows and dogs – no grass, no nothing that looked like I wanted to spend the night. So my idea was to find some decent people and ask for a space in their garden. But as I mentioned, no people around. The few houses that there were, were deserted or people were haveing their siesta. So I soon realized that this might be a long day, at the same time realizing that I did not nearly have enough water with me. Weirdly enough I passed through a village, which according to my map didn’t exist, and also had the only Tratttoria I saw during a duration of at least 4 hours. So water problem solved. When I realized that really this was one of the few mistakes on my map and there wasn’t another village or so to come I took the decision to ride all the way to Gangi – unless I found somewhere else to stay on the way. 2 Cliff bars later (thanks to Lisi and Gernot!!), two agritourismus places left behind me (one was far down the road, so no option, the other had crazy dogs, so no option) and many, many turns and hills and kilometeres later I arrived in Gangi. And this really, really did not amuse me much: it was built on the top of a hill. Oh well. I checked into a B&B and decided that my tired legs deseverd some beer. In a nutshell: it was the second day riding (and yes, this is the season start for me) with 70km and almost 1700m of altitude. Gangi was very cute – see for yourself:
Well the following two days were much easier. From Gangi I made my way to Troina (60km, 1100m of climbing) and from Troina I decided to ride to the coast again (I was in need for warmer temperatures and a place to camp) and hit the direction of Catania (64km of mainly downhill, but I ended up doing around 80km with 600m of climing – as I managed to get “lost”).
Here are some impressions from the road:
It was nice and easing riding. I felt the first rain, but the down pour only started once I was warm and cosy inside. I also took my first (and hopefully only!!) fall. Nothing happened to my bike – I was lucky (and nothing happened to me, besides some more bruises, but I am soooo bruised from pushing this bike around that this doesn’t matter anymore). It was a classic: first traffic light in two days and that was exactly what I was thinking, when my front bag touched the wall on the side and since I have a hard time riding with the crankbrothers click system I could not “un-click” and just fell. The guys in the cars jumped right out and made sure I was alright.
I also had a super nice dinner (it was fish-Friday in the mountains:-)) with about three waiters around me, continously asking me “everything all right lady” (seriously – I AM a lady now!!)?! I met a nice Romanian women showing me the way, continously talking to me in Italian. I answered in Spanish, French and English and in the end she told me three times how happy she was she met me and of course she had to kiss me too (what is it with all these people and kissing lately??)
Troina by the way was also very cute. Pix here under. Not much to say about today except for that I really dislike Paterno (impossible to get out of this town and find a decent way to Catania that is NOT a speed- or highway) and that what I have seen so far of Catania has not impressed me either (getting through town on a bycicle is really very horrible). But I am hopeing it will – as I will limit my riding to going downtown for coffee and aperitivo tomorrow!
There would be so much more to add on the beautiful Sicilian mountains, the quiet villages, the old men sitting on the side of the street, etc… But there are so many more days to come and with that stories to tell. So before I say good night, have a last look at this:
The best part of these three days: