Day ride: Monte Erice - In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - CycleBlaze

April 1, 2019

Day ride: Monte Erice

Italy seems to be experiencing a temperature inversion right now - the temperatures in the south are colder than the ones in the far north.  We’d be warmer today if we were traveling in Turin.

Pairing badly with this is the fact that none of the places we’ve stayed so far have had a working heating system.  It’s felt cold every place we’ve stayed, and we’ve been spending our mornings and evenings huddled under the covers.  In the mornings we’ve had to remind ourselves that it’s probably warmer outside than in so we might as well get started.

And speaking of lodging, here in Trapani we’re staying in the very strangely named Hotel Moderno.  It’s in a very good position, in the old town on a quiet side street about a block from the pedestrian zone.  It’s very economical, the rooms are clean, the WiFi strong, the water hot, the bed comfortable.  Perfect!  But yet, it’s definitely not modern.  It’s in a quite old building, and looks like it’s in the middle of a restoration project because there is rubble everywhere.  Just a bit odd.

There is no meal service in this hotel, so this morning we had breakfast on the town.  Two breakfasts actually, because the first place we tried, by the ferry terminal, was pretty unsatisfying.  We stopped at a second spot on the way back to the room and enjoyed better food, better coffee, and the charming sight of seven college students grabbing chairs from throughout the dining area and squeezing in tightly together around a tea table built for two.

Our ride today is a loop around Mount Eryx/Monte Erice, the two thousand foot high formation the rises just east of Trapani.  I don’t know its geologic history, but it looks like a volcanic plug.  On top is the famously scenic village of Erice, where we stayed on our last visit.  It’s quite a hard slog climbing to the top - nearly 2,000’ in about five miles.  We did this climb twice on our first visit, and remember it well.  Our plan for today is to circle the mountain counterclockwise and then climb over the mountain before returning to Trapani.

It takes us about a half hour to work our way through the busy, unattractive outskirts of Trapani.  We pick up lunch ingredients in Pacheco, six miles into the ride, and then a mile later we finally escape the city and find ourselves once more on the quiet and scenic backroads of the interior.  We won’t experience any traffic to speak of until returning to Trapani at the end of the ride.  

Just east of Paceco we start gradually climbing. Behind our backs the sprawl of eastern Trapani recedes in the distance.
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Get used to this look. This is Mount Erice, seen from the south.
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Oh, these roads again. “🎵Nothing could be finer than to be in western Sicily in the morning🎵“
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A row of eucalyptus, a crumbling farm building
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Eastbound on the road to Salemi, we see Monunt Erice recede behind us.
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Northbound on provincial road 35, toward Fugatore. We’re only about ten miles south of the route to Trapani we followed yesterday, but here the land has a much lower profile. Easy riding.
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Another eucalyptus row. That’s two - we’ll stop here for the day.
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Near Fugatore we bend back to the west. We’re at our furthest point from Mount Erice here.
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We stopped for lunch at a tiny village, Tangi.  Sitting atop a small knob at an elevation of 1000’ at the end of of a gradual six hundred foot climb, it was to be the high point of the day.  Besides offering a fine view of Monte Erice and the surrounding farmlands, it has what felt like a tiny open air museum next to the church steps where we sat and ate our usual picnic lunch of bread, meat and cheese.  I couldn’t tell if there is actually anything happening in  Tangi now, but there apparently was at one time - beside the rather modern church there is an unmaintained, weedy children’s playground and what looks like an old post office.

Another old steel wheeled tractor! It reminds me of the lovely old Cockshutt 30 we spotted near Valemount last summer.
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It’s a Landini!
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Thatched hay shed, Tangi
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We took our time over lunch, spending perhaps a half hour on the church steps at Tangi.  While we were there, weather conditions took a significant turn for the worse - the sky clouded over and a cold wind raised up.  Looking up at Monte Erice, we could see clouds forming around the summit.  As much as we both relished a steep 2,000’ foot climb, it didn’t seem wise to climb up into the clouds and probably get soaked.  Instead, we abandoned our dream of gelato on the summit and took the most direct route back to Trapani, staying on the east side of the mountain.  It was a fast ride and we had a bit of a tailwind most of the way, but we were cold when we arrived at the hotel and more than ready for a warm shower.

The descent from Tangi - cold and grey, but very quiet. We didn’t see a single car drive by the entire time we were on this old road.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Some of the best Sicilian roads look like this: distressed, intermittently unpaved or broken, empty.
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Monte Erice is starting to disappear into the haze and clouds. If it’s cold down here I don’t imagine it would be too much fun on top.
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We passed these beautiful blood red roadside flowers all day. I don’t know why I never stopped for a picture when the sun was out, but it’s not too late.
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Andrea BrownThese are related to the wild vetch we see in Oregon. Sulla (Hedysarum coronarium).
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownIt looked like vetch to me also, but on steroids. They’re large enough that they remind me of lupines.
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2 weeks ago
On the way back to Trapani we took a short detour to get a better look at this varnished cliff.
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It’s not just a pretty face - it’s a hotel. These holes are full of roosting crows.
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A last look at the mountain before we head back to our room. It’s definitely looking wet on the west face of the summit. We’re riding back on the right side.
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Here’s hoping we get home dry.
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We got back to our room about four, and frittered away the rest of the afternoon showering and then hunkering down under the blankets until the dinner hour.  I’m a bit put out with myself for not going out again for a better look at the city, but the warm covers were just too seductive.  Maybe I’ll make the rounds in the morning after coffee.

For dinner we ate at the same windowside table at the same restaurant we dined at last night: Tavernetta ai Lumi.  Like last night, we enjoyed another fine meal, and another relaxing evening sitting by the window taking in the street scene.  

The facade of the baroque Jesuit church and college. This is the structure with the huge door shown in yesterday’s post.
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The interior of the Jesuit church and college
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The interior of the Jesuit church and college
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Bronze doors of the Trapani Cathedral
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In Tavernetta ai Lumi: another image for my collection of restaurant tuna art.
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Tonight’s starters, both excellent. Across the table, Rachael’s gleanings from the appetizer buffet; and before me, a creatively presented Sicilian caponata.
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Suzanne GibsonLooks like a fine beginning to your meal - buon appetito!
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2 weeks ago
The scene at the wine bar across the street is livelier this evening, which surprised me because it seems colder. It looks especially cold sitting on the concrete stoop, except that they all have seat cushions.
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A fuller, uncluttered look at the town hall, Palazzo Senatorio
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Ride stats today: 36 miles, 1,900’; for the tour:  140 miles, 9,500’

Today's ride: 36 miles (58 km)
Total: 140 miles (225 km)

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