Day ride: north of Noto - In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - CycleBlaze

April 13, 2019

Day ride: north of Noto

A brief note about today’s ride, a narrow oval north of Noto: up one ravine, and down the neighboring one.  We top out at almost 2,200’, and layer up near the top because it’s cold and windy - we’re almost wondering if we should have brought the warm gloves, and we think ahead to how it will be next week when we climb up to Enna, at 3,000’.  We’re paying the early season penalty in exchange for finding quieter roads and towns.

At the north end we’re just south of Palazzo Acreide, a town we’ll stay at next week after doubling back from Syracuse.  We’ll be seeing a lot of this part of the interior, which is fine with us - it’s really fantastic cycling.  Today’s descent was almost indescribably wonderful - a winding road dropping down a ravine, lined with stone walls with an amazing variety of wildflowers in bloom growing along their base.   Views of the neighboring valleys and ravines are spectacular.

A half mile out of Noto and we’re struggling up a 15% grade on this nothing lane. There hasn’t even been time to limber up yet.
Heart 4 Comment 0
We quickly gain enough elevation to get a nice view of the town. Unfortunately when I stop it activates the local cur. Who needs some damn dog snarling at your heels on a 15% climb?
Heart 5 Comment 0
We’re past the worst of it, but it’s still too steep for Rachael to remount and start up again. Well, if she can walk I can too.
Heart 2 Comment 0
So is this just another variety of rosemary then?
Heart 3 Comment 2
Andrea BrownThis looks like a salvia (sage) to me, but there are numerous cultivars. If the leaves are not the slender tough leaves of a rosemary, then it's probably a salvia.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownGood. It didn’t really look like one to me either, except for the blossom shape.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
This terrain is really striking, chopped up by deep ravines.
Heart 6 Comment 4
Jacquie GaudetI'm not sure ravine is the word for it. It looks to me (not an earth science professional) like there was a sinkhole and then the collapse of an underground cavern. Very interesting!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetThere are a lot of true ravines here, but you’re right about this spot, I think. It’s all a karst plateau I think, so there are many interesting effects.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Bruce LellmanI read this journal in order to increase my knowledge of geologic formations and their terms. Apparently you, Scott, are playing fast and loose with this term "ravine". I'm glad Jacquie spoke up.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanI’m a very unreliable witness. People should take anything I say with a grain or two of salt. Not much good at geology or botony, and definitely not to be trusted on food or wine, since I can’t taste it anyway. Pretty good on magpies though.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Another fantastic cycling road.
Heart 4 Comment 0
We’ve been steadily climbing up this ravine for about 45 minutes, and stop for a last look back at Noto and the sea before rounding the bend.
Heart 2 Comment 0
We’re up over 2,000’ at the northern extreme of the ride. The weather is different here than down by the coast - it’s windy, quite cold, and we start wondering about rain. In fact, we do pick up some light sprinking soon.
Heart 1 Comment 0
I’ve interrupted his reverie, or maybe his nap. When I biked up he was gazing fixedly at the trees until I caught his attention.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Here she comes. She stopped for a quick snack a ways back. I kept going but then decided I should keep her in sight after all. I’ve been waiting in the sun here at the end of a half mile straight stretch for several minutes until she finally comes into view.
Heart 3 Comment 0
This was a fabulous descent. Words and photos can’t really do it justice - perhaps the video will give a better sense of it.
Heart 2 Comment 0
We’ve seen only a single vehicle in the last hour, the small truck in the video.
Heart 5 Comment 2
Bruce LellmanWhat a great trip you two are having! What a great place to ride!!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanIt really is great. Exceeds expectations, even the second time around. Five stars.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
OK, Andrea - give it to me again. I think you identified this one for me somewhere in the Balkans last year, but that was so long ago now.
Heart 3 Comment 2
Andrea BrownCentranthus ruber, Jupiter's beard.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonOoh, it must be a new one then. I’m sure I’d remember that name.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Now that. That’s spectacular. A river of gold flowing off the ridge.
Heart 6 Comment 0

We get back to our room in midafternoon, rest up for a bit, and then head out to see a bit more of the town before showing up at a tiny back-alley restaurant we saw last night and made a reservation for.  The highlight of our town visit is a climb up the campanile of the Church of San Carlo Barromeo.  It is an intensely narrow corkscrew staircase, with stairs about 16 inches wide.  At the top you’re rewarded by breathtaking views of the town and especially across the street to the Saint Nicholas Carhedral.  Also, if you’re  lucky with your timing, you too can be deafened when the bells unexpectedly start hammering right next to your ears.

After we came down, I walked over to the cathedral staircase to sit and lie in the sun until dinner, while Rachael continues exploring the town.  I’m suddenly not feeling that well - a bit nauseous, and experiencing the worst SVT episode I’ve had in months - it lasts about a half hour, before finally quiescing just in time for dinner.

After dinner I still don’t feel that well, and I hop into bed and under the blankets as soon as we get back to the room.  I feel a bit feverish and wonder how I’ll be in the morning.  If I am getting sick, there are worse spots.  We have several layover days ahead and an easy ride to Syracuse, so I’ve got a good window for recovery.  Hope for the best.

Let’s have another look at the fabulous Church of Saint Nicolas, Noto’s cathedral.
Heart 7 Comment 0
Remarkably, the dome of the cathedral is new. The old one collapsed in 1996 as the delayed reaction to the 1990 earthquake. The rebuilt dome opened in 2007.
Heart 1 Comment 0
A detail of the Noto cathedral
Heart 3 Comment 0
The interior of the Church of San Carlo Borommeo.
Heart 1 Comment 0
In San Carlo Borromeo
Heart 3 Comment 0
The steep, ultra narrow staircase to the bell tower. If others are going the other direction, you have to wait your turn. It must get really crazy in tourist season.
Heart 6 Comment 0
Saint Francis Church, from the bell tower
Heart 6 Comment 0
Quite deafening, if you’re lucky. I took a video to record the sound, but I wished I’d grabbed a photo of the young girl plugging her ears instead.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Reading a bit of history on the way down.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Our restaurant for the night is good, but tiny - only five small tables. Also cold, which doesn’t really work that well for how I’m feeling. Rachael though enjoyed the best pasta she can recall - ravioli with pistachio, stuffed with grouper.
Heart 3 Comment 0

Ride stats today: 37 miles, 2,900’; for the tour:  551 miles, 32,900’

Today's ride: 37 miles (60 km)
Total: 543 miles (874 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 7
Comment on this entry Comment 3
Sharon PledgerEnjoying your and Rachael's journey! Hope you feel better tomorrow.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Sharon PledgerThanks, Sharon. And thanks for the benediction. I’m feeling fine today, after sleeping it off. Who knows what that was about?
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Jen GrumbyGlad that you're feeling better! Hope today's ride goes well.

Beautiful photos and video!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago