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

April 14, 2019

Day ride: Noto Antica

Rachael complains that I always bury her video down low in the post where people might not notice it, so today we’ll start with it:

I awoke this morning relieved to feel nearly normal, other than that my stomach felt a bit raw.  Who knows what that was all about last night?  I’m suspicious of a mild case of food poisoning, maybe from some unrefrigerated milk yesterday.

The day began the same as yesterday, with me going a block down the street to a nice cafe for an early morning americano and to finish up the previous day’s post, and then return to our tiny house in time for scrambled eggs and cereal.  We’ve quickly fallen into a routine here, and it’s feeling almost like home.  I’m surprised at how comfortable this little place feels, now that I’ve mastered getting up and down the stairs without braining myself on the ceiling.

Technically, today’s ride is very similar to yesterday’s.  It’s another ovate loop north of town, but a bit further to the east.  It’s a couple miles shorter but has a bit more climbing, so the work’s about the same.  Like yesterday, it tops out at about 2,000’, so we’re mostly climbing the front half and coasting on the return.  And, again like yesterday, the weather is beautiful when we start out but threatens rain when we reach the apogee of today’s orbit and turn back.

And, like yesterday, it’s a totally brilliant ride.  This countryside just won’t quit!  We’ve been biking for the last few days through the western edge of the Iblei (or Hyblaean) Mountains, a large karst formation.  The limestone walls scarring the hills, the weirdly eroded gorges and ravines, the profusion and diversity of the wildflowers - it’s all really lovely and reminds me of Croatia but without the crowds.  I don’t doubt that the pace will pick up in another month, but right now it’s really perfect.

We hadn’t really set out with this goal in mind, but our route led us through Noto Antica, the ruins of old Noto.  A city with Greek origins and 2,000 years of history, the town was completely destroyed in the 1693 earthquake.

We leave for Syracuse tomorrow, but after that we’ll be doubling back through the Iblai Mountains when we start our counterclockwise circuit of Mount Etna.  So, we’ve got a few more days of cycling through this country lying just ahead.  Something to look forward to.

Northbound on SP 287, the main provincial road leading north from Noto. Just four miles out of town, and we’re biking through this wonderful landscape again.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Crossing Santa Chiara bridge, on our way to Antica Noto. I’m sorry that I didn’t find the right spot to stop for a view from the side.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Just across the bridge, we start seeing these religious kiosks lining the road leading up to a sanctuary, Santa Maria Scala del Paradiso.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Another botanical mystery, sprouting from one of the kiosks.
Heart 4 Comment 1
Andrea BrownAntirrhinum, snapdragons!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
It’s Palm Sunday! We’re really lucky in our arrival time, because the service is just ending. We wait for the crowd to disperse and then take a quick peek inside.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Inside the church of Santa Maria Scala del Paradiso. The structure is only a few centuries old (presumably because it was rebuilt after the great earthquake), so it’s surprising to see its Arabic-Norman characteristics.
Heart 5 Comment 0
There is a bike race underway when we bike through Noto Antica. The racers are covering a loop through the monument, on this intensely narrow road. The road hasn’t been closed to cars, so the racers have to squeeze by them (as you’ll have seen already, if you watched the video). Rachael is plastered to the wall down there by the cars, doing her best to not become a statistic.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Thumbs up! Actually, the road is narrow enough that it was unnerving to be biking into the face of the oncoming racers.
Heart 1 Comment 0
And there’s this. You’ll note that not all the cars are faced the same way. Two of them are slowly and carefully backing uphill to get out of the way. They’ve just passed me, plastered to the wall, trying not to hit me while still leaving room for the contestants to race past on the other side. Such fun!
Heart 2 Comment 0
In Noto Antica. We just took in sights we could view from the road, but it looks like it would be a rewarding spot to stop for a longer exploration.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Ancient cave dwellings, Noto Antica
Heart 4 Comment 0
In Noto Antica
Heart 2 Comment 0
Biking through the parklike preserve of Noto Antica
Heart 4 Comment 0
Nearing the far point of our loop, we see a familiar sight - menacing skies on the horizon. Suddenly it’s cold and windy, and feels like rain. Deja vu all over again.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Stopping for a brief bite on our way back toward the coast. Very brief - within five minutes it started sprinkling so we hopped back on our bikes and raced downhill away from the weather.
Heart 2 Comment 0
What do you suppose this scarred structure is? It’s a large, rectangular flat-bottomed basin. Looks like a reservoir.
Heart 2 Comment 1
Bruce LellmanThis has got to be a former quarry don't you think?
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
I thought it might be interesting to get a shot down the wall. The main concern was to not drop the camera.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Actually it wasn’t all that interesting, but I’ll include a photo to satisfy your curiosity. The scarring is interesting though, and obviously manmade.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Continuing our descent to the sea, racing away from the weather. Unlike yesterday, we seem to be losing the race. It’s sprinking lightly most of the way back to the coast.
Heart 1 Comment 0
So many colors here.
Heart 7 Comment 0
Another one I’ve probably just forgotten. One of the great things about having a poor memory is that so many things feel like new discoveries.
Heart 5 Comment 2
Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like maybe snapdragons.

http://www.maltawildplants.com/PLNT/Antirrhinum_siculum.php
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Bill ShaneyfeltThey are! And very cute ones too.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
An endlessly fascinating landscape. It looks like there is a tier of cave dwellings in that cliff.
Heart 3 Comment 0
In the Iblean Mountains
Heart 2 Comment 0
Suddenly, we’re dropping through another dizzying series of switchbacks. Rachael is ahead of me at this point. I considered texting her to come back so I could get her into the photo, but decided that might be unwise.
Heart 6 Comment 0
Still switching our way down, with Lido di Noto (Noto’s coast town) lying ahead.
Heart 2 Comment 0
One last delight, in a day already filled with them.
Heart 5 Comment 0

Back at the room, we warm up and wait for the other big event for the day - the Palm Sunday procession, scheduled to leave the cathedral at 6 according to our sources.  That’s a story for a different post though, coming soon.  In the meantime, here’s a nice photo of the rainbow that broke out right after the procession returned in the rain.

At the end of an otherwise brilliant day, it’s a disappointment to realize during dinner that I’m feeling ill again.  Not as bad as last night, but similar.  I have a difficult time forcing myself to finish my meal, and head for bed as soon as we get back to the room.  Worrying and perplexing.  A sundown scourge?

Saint Francis Church, after the procession
Heart 5 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0

Ride stats today: 35 miles, 3,100’; for the tour:  586 miles, 36,000’

Today's ride: 35 miles (56 km)
Total: 578 miles (930 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 7
Comment on this entry Comment 6
Emily SharpI've been following along and enjoying your journey so far. Looks like you have been finding lots of good squiggly line roads. Hope you start feeling better with no more nausea and SVT episodes - how annoying and unnerving. All the best!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonThanks for following along, Em! Squiggly line roads is exactly right. I think there’s a lot you would like here, including the fascinating geology. Whatever is going on with my health just feels like an annoyance at this point - energy is a bit low, not much appetite. Not much reason to complain, really.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Emily SharpBetween you on the geology and Bill Shaneyfelt on the botany I think there could be a real “ology” tour for the intersection of cycle/science nerds.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Emily SharpTo Andrea BrownHmmm... I don't know much about the geology in Europe - a little bit about Scotland because it is the birthplace of the science, but I'd need to do some reading to get caught up on what was happening in the different periods in Europe.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonOh, you could pick it up pretty quickly, I think. It’s all pretty standard stuff. Mountains, canyons, all the usual suspects. The Alps are big, so you might start there.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Jen GrumbyGreat to start this post with Rachael's video. What a beautiful ride!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago