So why were there two Sicilies? - In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - CycleBlaze

February 23, 2019

So why were there two Sicilies?

A history lesson

There weren’t.  It’s a trick question.  There’s just the one, the large island off the toe of Italy’s giant boot: home to some of the best Greek ruins in the world, astonishing cathedrals, Roman mosaics, awesome cuisine, the mafia, wildflowers galore, and so much more.  

The better question is why there was a Kingdom of Two Sicilies, when there is just the one Sicily.  I think I understand, and will try to explain.  If it still doesn’t seem clear to you, feel free to do your own research. 

Stepping back in time a bit, you could say that the explanation begins with the dissolution of the County of Sicily.  This entity, which included Sicily, Malta, and a bit of Calabria, was a Norman state created in about 1071 after Sicily was reclaimed from the Moors in the Norman Conquest.  The County of Sicily was short-lived: after about fifty years marked by strife with its next door Norman cousin the County of Apulia and Calabria, the two were merged to form the Kingdom of Sicily in 1130.

The Kingdom of Sicily, in its original form, was also short-lived.  In 1282 Sicily rebelled against the Kingdom after it fell under the control of French King Charles I.  In the War of the Vespers, the islanders broke free of the mainland and declared themselves to be An independent entity under the sponsorship of Spanish Aragon.  The Kingdom of Sicilily retained its name even though it no longer controlled the island (although It was also known as the Kingdom of Naples).  Thus for a period of time there were two Sicilies, although only one of them actually contained Sicily.  I think.

And, as we’ve seen, these two entities were eventually  reunited to form the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, as a step toward the eventual unification of all of Italy.

End of the history lesson.  Let’s get back on the bike.

Lake Oswego

I woke up early this morning, unable to get back to sleep and feeling a bit frustrated.  It’s Saturday, and there’s no decent coffee shop nearby that opens until 7:30.  In our small studio apartment I don’t want to turn the light on and disturb Rachael, and two hours is a bit long to hang out in the bathroom (even for me, Rachael might add here).  I squirm around in the dark for awhile and eventually decide to hop on the bike and head to either Lovejoy or JoLa Cafe, both of which open at 6, seven days per week.

I hope to get some biking in this morning but it looks pretty questionable, with showers forecast for later in the morning.  I don’t really have a plan for the day beyond coffee, and I don’t even figure that one out until I’m on the street pedaling out of the driveway.  By more or less by random choice I turn south toward JoLa, about three miles upriver in John’s Landing.  It’s still pre-dawn when I bike past Tilikum Crossing, giving me a nice look at the light show on the illuminated bridge.  It’s cold also, in the high thirties.  I’m too lazy to stop and put my warm gloves on, so by the time I arrive at the cafe my fingers are starting to go numb.

I’ve never seen the bridge from this vantage point before, in front of the Cancer Research Center. I think this walkway wasn’t open yet the last time we were in town.
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I appear to be the only customer in the joint when I walk into JoLa Cafe.  I’ve always liked this place, but I especially enjoy hanging out this morning because there’s a Leo Kottke album on.  At first I mistake it for John Fahey, a favorite of mine from my college days (and later, when I got to hear him live at a tavern in Salem after he moved to Oregon), but the barista corrects me when I ask him about it.

I stay put for the next two hours, reading the news and putting the finishing touches on the GPS routes for the upcoming tour.  We’ve ended up by booking reservations for the entire tour, an I update the routes to map to the lodging.  We didn’t start out with this in mind though.  At first we just booked lodging in Sicily for the period around Easter, which we know will be a very busy time - Easter festivities in Sicily are famous.  Gradually though, we just kept adding spots where it seemed like we might be vulnerable.  The Amalfi Coast definitely feels like a risk, and then we wondered about some of the most popular towns in Puglia.  Eventually, with enough fixed days in the schedule it seems silly to not fill in the gaps too.  Everything is cancellable anyway as long as we do so far enough ahead of time.

I’m going to quit whining about the cold.
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Finally I’ve had enough coffee and mapwork and am ready to move on.  It looks dry and surprisingly bright outside, and when I check the forecast I’m delighted to see that the predicted onset of rain has pushed out a few hours.  I unhitch Rodriguez and we coast down to the waterfront, tossing around ideas for where to ride today as we go.  I point out that I need to start getting some hillwork in, but Roddy makes the excellent point that I’ll enjoy it more if I stop and put some air in his tires for the first time in over a month.

He was definitely right.  I can really feel the difference as we weave our way uphill through Riverview Cemetery.  I’m feeling good about myself and the pace I’m keeping, until a mixed gender group of ten riders zips past me and feeds me some humble pie.  I definitely need to start putting more hills in the diet.

In Riverview Cemetery
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Jen GrumbyOne of our favorite rides included this hill.

Riverview Cemetery is so beautiful!
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyDon’t worry. From the look of some of the dates up here it’s likely to still be here when you return.
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3 months ago

Leaving the cemetery, I bike past Lewis & Clark college and through the very upscale Dunthorpe neighborhood, with the idea that I’ll head uphill to Council Crest and return home through the zoo.  When I get to Terwilliger Boulevard though, I suddenly change my mind and decide to drop down to Lake Oswego.  I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not because it’s downhill.  It’s because I haven’t been to or even thought about Lake Oswego since last summer, and it has some attractive sights that come to mind.

Coasting down through Tryon Creek Park, I’m taken by how intensely green everything is now.  I watch for signs of the first trilliums, which are common through here; but it’s apparently too early.  Nothing but fifty shades of green.

In Tryon Creek Park
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In Tryon Creek Park
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Jen GrumbyAfter 3 months of the browns, greys, and whites of Denver Metro winter, I really appreciate seeing this green!

After living in Portland for 30 years, it became too easy to fall into the bad winter habit of focusing too much on the dreary .. forgetting the emerald wonderland that's just outside the door.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyThe grass is always greener on the other side, so they say.
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3 months ago

I have a pretty poor opinion of Lake Oswego, actually.  It feels just a bit too snooty, with too much private ownership of beautiful waterfront property for my tastes.  Just as bad, it’s not that bike friendly - the main street through town is narrow and busy, and half the time I end up on the sidewalk with the pedestrians.  Not really Portland-like.  So, I’m always a bit surprised when I take my time here to look around because there are definitely some attractions.  I like all the public art on display, the legacy of an annual sculpture festival that leaves in place the crowd favorites.

My favorite spot here is Foothills Park, an attractive, fairly large riverside green space that is a bit out of the way - for years I didn’t even know it existed until I finally noticed it on the map.  And my favorite spot in Foothills Park is the Stafford Stones, a Stonehenge-like collection of polished columnar basalt etched with lines from the poems of the late William Stafford,  poet laureate of both Oregon and the Library of Congress (and also the father of Kim Stafford, Oregon’s current poet laureate).

Stafford’s poetry has a down to earth feel that reminds you of Robert Frost, and displays an obvious love for Oregon and the natural world.  It’s been too long since I’ve wandered down here to reflect on a few of his words.

The salmon are running in Lakewood Bay.
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Oregon is insanely green/it is the thin light/left over from Eden
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The stream is always revising/water is always ready to learn
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The Lake Oswego Railroad Bridge, from Foothills Park
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For a brief spell while I’m in Foothills Park the sun breaks through, but it doesn’t last long.  I’m still fifteen or twenty miles from home and the clouds are building up, so I maintain a pretty steady pace all of the rest of the way.  I stop briefly at the Oregon City Bridge to admire the views, and am surprised to see what I’m sure is a sea lion in the river almost directly below.  At the right time of year there’s a small, noisy colony that hangs out on the docks near here and scarfs up the salmon.  They weren’t here a few weeks ago, but maybe they’ve just returned.  I consider swinging by the piers for a look, but suddenly I starts lightly hailing and I’m reminded to keep on task.

It starts sprinkling, but after a mile or two it stops again and I’m lucky to bike home dry.  Near town I stop to take a photo of the bridges, but I’m soon scared off by a large goose that just keeps walking closer to me.  He was about thirty feet away when I first stopped, but by the time I finally realize I must be standing in his space he isn’t more than three feet away.  He never acts or looks threatening, but he’s definitely got his eye on me.  Better take the hint before it’s too late.

Willamette Falls, from the Oregon city Bridge. I’m certain I saw the head of a sea lion when I first looked down, but not now.
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The Oregon City Bridge and Civic Elevator
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Some bridge lines
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This is one of the larger Canada geese, not one of those little cacklers. His beak comes about up to my waist, which makes me a bit anxious.
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