To Caltagirone, and a mail delivery - In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - CycleBlaze

April 8, 2019

To Caltagirone, and a mail delivery

We’re in Caltagirone, a great city which demands exploration; so I’ll keep this short.  Yesterday we sat around our room in Gela until about ten, waiting for a bit of early morning rain to pass on.  When we left, the last clouds were just disappating, leaving a lovely morning in its wake.

Today’s ride wasn’t quite as idyllic as yesterday’s, but still fine enough.  We spent a few more miles on busier roads, but other than the usual chaos biking into and out of cities the ride felt perfectly safe and mostly relaxing.  The miles on distressed roads were a bit more distressing today though - dogs, rough surfaces, and in one spot impassable.

We arrived in Caltagirone about four, and were relieved to have our host hand us a package when we checked in - Rachael’s new GoPro mount!  Video tomorrow!

Caltagirone is an important town with some remarkable sights.  We’re a bit torn about whether to go for a bike ride tomorrow or just take the whole day off to explore here.  We got out a bit this evening, but I’ll save everything up for tomorrow’s post. 

We got up early and walked down to a cafe on the waterfront: the well named Best Cafe. There was this slight rainbow out at sea, which should have told us something. Five minutes later it was raining.
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The jetty at Gela is huge - it looks like it must be a mile long. Actually, it’s almost exactly a mile long - I just measured it.
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The dome of the cathedral at Gela, which we just biked past on the way out of town, focused on our search for a supermarket. Big mistake - it’s quite an important and interesting church, and we should have stopped.
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We missed the cathedral, but at least I got a good look at this budding cactus while waiting for Rachael to come back from the store. What kind of cactus is it though? Grows like a many branched candelabra, and this one is about 8 feet tall.
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Also, it attracts flies.
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We’re leaving Gela by a different road than we came in last night. In the distance to the west, this is the same formation we biked past yesterday.
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The daisies just won’t quit in this part of the island. If you zoom in and know where to look, you can barely see Rachael way off in the distance.
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Canola! Canola! (Seems like a more discreet way of describing this scene than the alternative).
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We merely biked past the ruined 13th century Castelluccio of Gela too, but then there’s a lot less to see here than at the cathedral anyway.
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We saw pillboxes scattered in fields around Gela, making me think we’d gotten lost and we’re back in Albania again. I’m not a war historian, and was surprised to learn that the Battle of Gela in April 1943 was the initial maneuver of the Allied Invasion of Sicily.
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Hmm. What do you think, Rachael? Does this look like a good way to go? Actually, they were loud but just big pussycats protecting their trash heap. When I walked forward, they walked backward. All was good, as long as I kep my hands away from their garbage.
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OK, so not every minor road is great and not every day can be the best cycling experience ever. Surprisingly enough, this is a marked bike route - note the sign above Rachael’s head.
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The broad Gela river valley is blanketed with vast artichoke fields.
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The broad, flat Gela River valley is about five miles wide, rimmed on the east by this thousand foot ridge. We’ll angle across its face soon, topping out at the town of Niscemi.
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Approaching the start of the climb.
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It’s an easy climb, with a steady gradient of about five percent. Views are great the whole way up. This is Niscemi again.
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Looking down and across the Gela valley.
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From Niscemi, looking back down the Gela river to the sea. You can just see the city of Gela on the coast, about ten miles off. I should have said more about Gela, a historically important city dating to about 700 BC. The great Greek playwright Aeschylus ended his life here, allegedly killed by an eagle that dropped a tortoise on his bald head thinking it was a rock. A fitting end for a tragedian!
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Here’s a more complete look at that flowering plant, Andrea. I particularly liked this one for the mildewed prickly pear blade as a backdrop.
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Andrea BrownThe spiral spray of flowers make me think it's a phacelia, but the closest one I've found, Phacelia campanularia, has more rounded leaves.

Bill?
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2 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Andrea BrownPerhaps Echium vulgare, viper's bugloss.
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2 months ago
At our lunch stop we have a surprising guest. We’ve been watching this beetle slowly lumber toward us from about fifteen feet off, struggling through the weeds. He just kept coming! Finally we had to call him off when he tried to crawl inside Rachael’s shoe.
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While watching the thrilling March of the Beetle, I looked across the field and saw these. They grow as isolated, widely scattered individual plants.
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We’re biking here through a small cork woods. This poor guy looks especially brutalized.
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So, maybe not the best route after all. It eventually petered out to a rough trail through the woods, and finally became completely unpassable. We backtracked a few miles to find a paved alternative.
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Once again, a day that began blue is turning dark grey. We’re trying to decide whether to shorten our route, but the weatherman said it would be dry all day so we stayed with the original route. Who are you going to believe - the weatherman, or your lying eyes?
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We’re starting to believe our lying eyes after all, so we pick up our speed a bit.
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Now there - I’m sure that’s rain. Sure glad it’s way over there.
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At Anima & Core, Rachael’s favorite meal of the tour so far: sea bass with pistachio and zucchini. Also, with a carrot slice carved in the shape of a fish.
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Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonThat’s the word for it, alright. A shame to just scarf it down.
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2 months ago
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Ride stats today: 44 miles, 3,600’; for the tour:  372miles, 22,400’

Today's ride: 46 miles (74 km)
Total: 364 miles (586 km)

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