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

April 12, 2019

To Noto

We have prefect conditions for a traveling day: a balmy day with no chance of rain lies ahead, and a strong west wind promises to ease the miles.  After enjoying a leisurely morning of home-brewed espresso, home scrambled eggs and cold cereal, we leave our apartment in Scicli about 9:30.  First up: a modest climb out of town, giving us a nice view back as we leave The Most Beautiful City in the World.

A few miles later we crest the ridge, and begin the long descent to the sea.   Our work for the day is nearly done, and it’s just gone 10.  We won’t face a climb more severe than a highway overpass for nearly 40 miles, until we approach Noto at the end of the ride.  Our descent to the sea is fast but windy, as we’re blown sideways by the west wind.

One last look back
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Five miles later, the sea comes into view.
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Here’s a brilliant stroke of luck to start the day off right: while I’m focusing the camera on another dazzling floral explosion, this guy swoops into the frame and perches on a snag.
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Bill ShaneyfeltGreat shot of the magpie! That could be used for bird identification!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_magpie
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI was so pleased about this. Magpies are really pretty difficult to get a decent shot of, in my experience.
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2 months ago
Jen GrumbyWe've tried photographing magpies here a few times and they're very uncooperative.

What a lucky shot!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyIt’s odd alright. You’d think they’d be easy - big, common, easy to spot. They really keep their distance though.
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2 months ago

At the coast, we picked up the marked cycleroute to Syracuse.  Finding it well marked and interesting, we scrap our premapped plan and instead follow the marked route east to Pachino.  

There is a marked cycle route that follows the southern coastline all the way from Trapani to Syracuse.
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The route mostly follows minor roads, but at times it’s like this.
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Or like this. The long, flat beach on this part of the coast is sandy, with a consistency like white sugar. Even on the paved stretches there were spots where sand drifts covered the shoulder and pushed us out into the traffic lane.
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Or like this. It looks like this tree has been down for quite a while - long enough for a walkaround to get established.
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Bruce LellmanI think since this tree could have been taken care of in a matter of minutes I have to conclude that it says something about the culture of the people.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanCould be. It’s in a pretty off the beaten track spot though - maybe there’s just no ongoing trail maintenance.
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanI find it interesting how people differ from country to country, culture to culture. In Laos I know their inclination would be to leave this tree right where it fell forever, except, they would want the firewood so badly that they would remove it pretty quickly. In Germany, even in the middle of nowhere and no one needing the firewood, someone would remove this tree from the road immediately simply because it shouldn't be there.
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2 months ago
The route is well posted. Nevertheless, it was surprising to be steered out to sea at this point.
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We were sceptical, but a woman sitting by the beach encouraged us to go on and assured us it was the route. Hard packed, smooth, just fine. A bit of an adventure to start the day.
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Not quite as easy at the other end though, pushing up this rise through the soft sand.
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This part of the trail was lined with these colorful golden trees, a species I don’t recall seeing before.
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It’s a yellow acacia. It was hard to get a well focused shot of its delicate pompom blossoms, but you’ll get the idea.
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It’s surprising how little time we’ve spent by the sea here in Sicily. This is the only spot so far where there’s been a seaside road quiet enough that you can enjoy it.
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We were puzzled by this derelict when we first saw it in the distance. It almost has the look of a ruin d Greek temple.
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This is Fornace Penna, the ruins of a brick factory from the early 1900’s, intended for shipping bricks around the Mediterranean. It lasted only ten years before being destroyed by arson.
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The ruined factory is another spot on the Montalbano circuit. It is featured in several episodes of the TV series.
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Fornace Penna is a very evocative sight, standing isolated on a point visible from miles away. It reminds me of the ruined abbeys in the British Borderlands.
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There are some beautiful sandy beaches along the coast here, but this early in the season they’re nearly deserted. I think we’re in Pozzalo here.
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In Marina de Marza, I believe.
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Another beautiful bit of coastline. The ride for about fifteen miles here was really exquisite as we were blown eastward along the sea by a 15 mph tailwind.
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In Pachino we stopped for lunch, pulling up at a small cafe for a pair of involtini and a Moretti.  After that we dropped back down to the sea for a few more miles before finally turning inland just past the marina at Marzamemi.  Soon afterwards we were on the highway, working our way inland and upwards to Noto.

Noto is probably the best known and most visited of the Sicilian Baroque towns, so we look forward to another gallery of spectacular sights.  We’ll be here for three nights, staying at an Airbnb just outside the historical center.

In Marzamemi
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We couldn’t tell what was happening here, but I think it’s a training session conditioning the horse to the water.
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About eight miles from Noto, and the fun ends. We’re back on the highway for the final stretch, climbing over a series of three low ridges.
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Noto in our sights, but still two rises away.
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We have a super-efficiency unit. You’re seeing the whole thing, except for the shower which is tucked behind the kitchen. It’s a bit dangerous, because there’s insufficient head clearance on the stairs to the bed chamber. We’ll Be lucky if we don’t have a career ending injury here.
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Our walk to the historical center takes us through the Porta Reale and up Corso Vittorio Emmanuale. We’ll enjoy walking up and down this spectacular avenue for the next three nights.
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Our first view of the cathedral, constructed of golden limestone, is almost shocking. It’s so radiant in the late day sun.
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It’s really great being here a such a quiet time. Not many tourists yet - mostly just locals, like the youths hanging out on the cathedral steps.
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Black leather and designer jeans on the cathedral steps
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Weaving our way back to our room. It’s warmer down here, and this is the first night to tempt us to try out the gelato.
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Ride stats today: 49 miles, 2,000’; for the tour:  514 miles, 30,000’

Today's ride: 49 miles (79 km)
Total: 506 miles (814 km)

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