To Cefalu - In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - CycleBlaze

April 23, 2019

To Cefalu

After yesterday’s arduous challenge, today’s ride felt like a holiday. There was a bit of climbing involved, but with a net drop of 3,000’ we spent most of the ride coasting down the deep, dramatic gorge of the Pollina River, skirting the eastern edge of the Madonie Mountains.  Better yet, the weather improved drastically overnight after the storm front moved on.

We arrived in Cefalu in late afternoon and found a town crowded with tourists and the beach covered with sun bathers. It is warm, in the low seventies - warm enough that we dined outdoors for the first time on this tour, and indulged in gelato afterwards.  It feels like we fell asleep last night in one spot and woke up today in a different country or season.

We’ll be in Cefalu for three nights.  We’re not sure how we’ll spend our layover days yet, but I’m sure that we’ll bike back up into the mountains on at least one of them.

Petralia Sottana is one of the most interesting small towns we’ve visited here. We’ve now stayed both here and in the nearby upper town, Petralia Soprana. Both are worth the stop, but I think I prefer this one.
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In Petralia Sottana
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Looking north from the town’s viewing belvedere into the Madonie Mountains.
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I considered including three or four weathered tile photos here to show the diversity. Like snowflakes, no two are alike.
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The Basilica, Chiese Madre Maria
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Inside the Basilica
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Inside the Basilica
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Inside the Basilica
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She’s really leaning into it here. At least the stones are dry this morning.
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Petralia Soprana, the sister to last night’s village. It sits on top of the hill above Petralia Sottana, about 600 feet higher. We stayed up there the last time we came this way.
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We considered taking the high road south from Petralia Sottana today, but are glad we chickened out. It tops out at 5,500’, which today looks like it would have taken us through a cold alpine fog. Crossing the ridge ahead was high enough for today’s conditions.
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The Madonie Mountains were the location for Targa Florio, one of the first endurance automobile races in Europe and one of the most difficult.
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Approaching Geraci Siculo, another striking Madonie town. Most of the town is hidden in this view by the large rocca that it is built against.
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In Geraci Siculo
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In Geraci Siculo
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In Geraci Siculo. This boy and his friend were curious about - well, everything. Here, he’s checking out Rachael’s mirror. They were also interested in my shorts and wanted to know if they were cold.
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Jacquie GaudetClearly, he (or his mother) thinks it's cold out!
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetA bit peculiar, alright. His friend was just as bundled up as he was. It really wasn’t cold at all.
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4 months ago
We were surprised to see that there was still snow on the highest peaks, which top out at 6,500’. They are the highest mountains in Sicily after Mount Etna.
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We’re looking here across the immensely deep gorge of the Pollina River. The last time we biked to Cefalu we descended the other side of the gorge, on the road you can barely see halfway down the slope. I think the most remarkable thing in this photo though is that village perched atop a crag at the top of the cliff. I think this must be San Mauro Castelverde.
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The miles from Geraci Siculo to Castelbuono are an amazing ride, a steady ten mile descent on a road that is a continuous squiggle.
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Dropping toward Castelbuono.
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Castelbouno, another Madonie town not far inland from the sea. We stopped for lunch here, having salad and a focaccia slice at a small bar.
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It looks quiet here after sundown, but actually Cefalu is pretty busy now. There were quite a few sunbathers on the beach earlier today when we biked in to town.
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We want more cat pictures! I get that all the time, so here’s one. This guy and a friend were frisking around in this planter for several minutes like it was planted in catnip.
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Ride stats today: 39 miles, 2,000’; for the tour:  836 miles, 57,900’

Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 839 miles (1,350 km)

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Catherine HastingsEnjoying your journal. So many towns that are new to me - it's making me want to return to Sicily! Please send my greetings to the stunning Christ Pantocrator in the cathedral at Cefalu. It's still my favourite.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Catherine HastingsOh, good. Your request came in just in time. We’re on our way over to the cathedral after breakfast. We’ll put in a good word for you.
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4 months ago
Catherine HastingsThanks! Need all the help I can get!!!
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4 months ago