Last day in Sicily, after three weeks and about 700 km of cycling. Tomorrow I fly to Rome and then Copenhagen to see my son and also meet Elaine, who has been on a choral tour with Bel Acapella.
I started on May 1, at Palermo airport, and I am now back in Palermo itself. I’ll be taking the train to the airport, which is 35 km out of town, tomorrow morning.
I went anticlockwise around the coast of Sicily to Trapani, Marsala, Sciacca, Agrigento, then took my bike by bus into the centre of the island, to ride to a famous Roman country villa excavated near Piazza Armerina. It was really something, floors covered in amazing mosaics.
I stayed a couple of nights there and then rode on to Caltagirone, Vizzini and Modica, through some very scenic countryside, with one big hill I will remember for some time.
The countryside in early summer is very green and lush, with endless fields of fruit, wheat, olives and grapes. I really enjoyed the cycling, but getting into some of the towns was hard, many being perched on steep hills. Agrigento was the worst, it took me an hour to find my accommodation, up a steep hill. I saw the Greek ruins there, which involved going back down the hill, on foot,since the buses didn’t seem to be running. Luckily they were running on way home. I probably did more walking than cycling in all the hill towns, and the trick was to get to some old church or other famous site before they closed, at 1 pm usually.
From the famous Baroque city of Modica I rode to Syracuse; a brilliant mostly downhill day with a tailwind. Stopped for a look at the Caves D’Ispica, which were ancient dwellings, burial sites and even an ancient Greek school, carved into the walls of a limestone valley. Then on for lunch at Noto, another Baroque town full of beautiful stone buildings like Modica, and not up on a steep hill for a change. There was a festival in full swing, to add to the atmosphere.
Two nights in Syracuse, another ancient city with Greek and Roman ruins. I then caught a train to Catania and spent a couple of days there so I could do a Mt Etna tour. Huge mountain, with snow on top, and a freezing wind. I had planned to ride part way up, but glad I didn’t, it was very steep. I saw a lot of cyclists trying though.
By this time my 3 weeks was almost up and I caught the train across Sicily back to Palermo for a couple of days. It turned out to be an enjoyable city, easy to cycle around if you like dodging vespas.
What’s more, I rang the airport and my bike box was still there. Took the bus out this morning, and after a nerve racking hour found where the box was, packed up and am now in the departure lounge, hoping bike will get on the same planes as me on way to Copenhagen, after a change at Rome.
[note added: it didn’t, it got left behind in Rome, but arrived 24 hours later in Copenhagen, delivered to our hotel.]
See some photos on Google Plus