The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - CycleBlaze

February 13, 2019

The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

Café Ponté

I like to start most mornings here in town by walking or biking to a café for my morning coffee and a pastry and hanging out for an hour or so while I catch up on the news or the journal.  One thing that’s disappointed me so far about our new lodging on the waterfront is the absence of an appealing morning hangout in the neighborhood.  There’s a decent café just below us the waterfront, but the WiFi is terrible and the atmosphere a bit sterile.  There’s a Starbucks outlet close by (of course; there’s always a Starbucks nearby), but I’ve recently sworn off giving its egotistical billionaire a dime more unless I’m really desperate.  That’s about it for places in the immediate neighborhood, so I’ve mostly been trekking uptown to Café Umbria or hopping on the bike to revisit old favorites further away.

Until now.  A few days ago I stumbled across Café Ponté, a small storefront that I’d never noticed before on Naito Parkway (the boulevard facing the waterfront) midway between the Morrison and Hawthorne bridges.  It hits nearly all the marks, and I’m sure I’ll start many mornings here in the coming weeks before we leave for Sicily.  There are many things to like here.  First, there’s the rhyming, almost musical Italian name (note the accents).  Then too: it opens early (6 AM on weekdays); it has a relaxed, comfortable, interesting decor in an older historical building; it has a good selection of pastries and other breakfast choices; the WiFi is excellent; the music is interesting and eclectic; the staff are warm and welcoming; and it’s green - there’s a bin with used coffee grounds that you can draw from to use as compost in your garden.  

A nice backdrop for my morning walk to the cafe
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An attractive old space. I wonder what its history is. That looks like a cast iron support holding up the roofbeams, which fits with the construction of many of the oldest buildings in this quarter.
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An interesting portrait gallery: women of different ethnicity, all drinking coffee; different breeds of dog, each quaffing a different variety of beer.
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An appealing repurposing for attractive old container.
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So, nearly perfect.  What’s not to like here?  As far as I can see, just one thing - there’s no bike rack nearby that you can see from inside, so I don’t think I’ll be stopping by with Rodriguez.  Which isn’t bad anyway - it’s certainly attractive enough walking along the river for a third of a mile to get here.  A nice way to start the day.

The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

In a very roundabout way, sitting here in Café Ponté this morning has led me to reconsider the title for this journal.  One of the featured offerings here is piadinas, a type of food I don’t think I’ve heard of before.  It sounds Latin American to me, and the young woman at the counter looks like she could have a Mexican heritage; so for a minute I thought this place had Latin American roots.  Looking up piadinas though, I see they’re a type of Italian flatbread; and the young lady, Chiara, looks Italian as well now that I take a closer look.

We’ll have to give this a try one of these mornings.
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Chiara. Italian?
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Piadinas originated in the Italian region of Romagna.  I’m not quite clear exactly where that is, so I look it up.  It’s a historical region, and now part of the familiar Emilia Romagna which we biked through just last fall.

Which led me to wondering again which Italian regions we have biked through over the years, so I consulted a map.  We’ve been to most of them by now, and after this year’s tour we’ll have hit all of them except Aosta, Abruzzo and tiny Molise.  Molise is just north of Basilicata, so I look up its map to see if we’ll be close enough to nip off a corner of it too this spring.

Which leads me to this map, which almost exactly matches the scope of our upcoming tour: 

Uncanny. Our route (in red) almost perfectly lines up with the extent of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
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How perfect is this?  On our second tour of Sicily we’ll be covering the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, an entity that was created by the merger of the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily in 1815 and ended in 1860 with the unification of Italy. I should rename the journal - especially as I see that Mezzogiorno is an ambiguous term - sometimes it includes only the southern mainland portion of Italy, excluding Sicily; and sometimes includes Sardinia, which we won’t be visiting this time.  Neither is a perfect fit.

But I won’t.  I like the sound of Giro di Mezzogiorno, so I’m sticking with it.  I will though add a subtitle to give it better definition.

Also, I see that the Kingdom included 22 departments - 15 on the mainland, and seven in Sicily.  Our planned route hits 18 of them, missing only the four northernmost, in today’s Abruzzo and Molise.  I’ll have to look at that route again to see if we couldn’t stretch it out a bit further north and pick up all 22.  Rachael loves this sort of thing and I’m sure will be thrilled if I come up with a route with perfect coverage of the old kingdom.  Scoping it out will make a nice personal challenge for some wet morning in my new find, Café Ponté.

Today’s ride

But not today.  Today looks like a fine riding day - mostly cloudy but dry, not too cold.  We aren’t seeing many good riding days lately, so we have to ride.  Not quite yet though as it’s still a bit damp and foggy when I walk back to the room.  No rush, we’ve got all day.

But for the overlook’s railing this could be a black and white.
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Feed the birds, tuppence a bag.
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Jen GrumbyIs that a shoulder-perched pigeon .. or is it camera tricks?
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYup, it’s up on his shoulder. When the man moved around, the bird would flap around and hop down, then return. I imagine he’s a regular, and they’re all best buds.
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2 months ago

The ride, when it comes, is a good workout but not the most exciting to report on: a 42 mile dash (Rachael’s favorite distance, once again) out Springwater to Gresham and back.  It’s our best chance to get a ride in this week, so we ride steadily with no slack to stop for photos if I don’t want to just be left behind - which is fine, since there isn’t much new to say about a ride on a bike path we’ve ridden hundreds of times.   I can’t help myself and have to stop for a picture of a new barnside mural at the spot where black roosters are often loose pecking in the grass beside the path.  I pay for that stop though, and don’t catch up with Rachael again for the next eight miles, when she finally stops to eat her sandwich.  I pass her by and take my chance to stop in at the  Gresham Pioneer Cemetery for a quick look.  That’s it though.  Long gone are the good old days, when I could stop by the road to glean a few handfuls of wild blackberries and then catch up with her on the next hill.

Camouflaged
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Jen GrumbyIf that rooster could hop out of the mural, I'm quite sure he'd pedal away on Rodriguez.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyHe’s giving it the eye, alright. It hadn’t occurred to me that Roddy was at risk.
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2 months ago
In Gresham Pioneer Cemetery
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In Gresham Puoneer Cemetery
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