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

April 10, 2019

To Scicli

Well, we won’t keep you video-aficionados waiting any longer.  Here, at long last, is our FIRST VIDEO of the tour!!!

It’s great of course, but a bit deceptive.  Rachael cherry picked the best parts of day’s ride and made it look quite a bit more attractive than it actually was.  It wasn’t unpleasant exactly, but the first forty miles weren’t really up to standard.  Busier roads, more traffic, less evocative scenery.  This can partly be chalked up to route selection - with a longer distance to cover, the Chief Navigator opted for a more efficient route today - meaning more direct roads, and more traffic.  It did the trick though, and we made good time for most of the way to Scicli.  It wasn’t really until the last fifteen miles of the day that we escaped onto a quieter road and found more reasons to slow down.

Weather conditions were fine for the ride.  It was still a bit chilly when we started out, made harsher by a brisk west wind.  An hour into the ride though the day had warmed up considerably, partly because we had dropped a thousand feet from Caltagerone’s lofty perch.  The first fifteen miles were largely downhill, but for the remainder of the day we traversed a half dozen small ridges and valleys.  None of them amounted to much of a climb, but eventually they added up.

Leaving Caltagirone
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The red poppies are really coming on fast. We only started seeing the first of them about five days ago.
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Looking back north toward Caltagirone from one of the day’s early climbs.
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Dropping into a sea of plastic. Attractive enough, if you look at it the right way.
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See? Practically a work of art.
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About halfway through the ride we come to the surprisingly interesting village of Acate.  With an origin dating back to the Stone Age, it contains an impressive sixteenth century castle and a baroque church rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake.  We pause here long enough for Rachael to pick up a delicious ricotta treat to supplement her lunch, and we bike on.  Several miles later we pull away from the busy highway onto a dirt road and stop for the midday meal.  She enjoys her ricotta treat plus various edibles she’s squirreled away; and I dine on the remains of last night’s pizza, augmented by a bit or roughage picked up when I dropped one of the slices in the dirt.

The Catholic Church, Acate
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Biscari Castle, in Acate
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In Acate
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Biscari Castle
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After forty miles biking more or less straight south into an angling headwind, at Santa Croce Camerone we bent east and enjoyed both a potent tailwind and the most attractive miles of the day.  Out of the traffic, we were able to look up and around more and enjoy our surroundings as we passed through an open environment of pastures demarcated by ancient limestone walls.

Climbing away from Santa Croce Camarone, we leave the traffic behind.
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Now this is definitely more like it.
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This country has a different feel than we see elsewhere on the island.
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On parade
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It wouldn’t be a complete day without a scene like this.
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The ancient stonework here reminds me of the Balkans.
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Crossing the final ridge of the day, we are almost shocked when Scicli suddenly comes into view.  It is quite dramatic seen from above, with the old city wedged into the bottom of a ravine and the newer development spreading like an alluvial fan in front of it.

We’re staying in a Scicli do two nights, in an apartment that comes complete with a kitchen.  We’re looking at a full week of lodging like this in the coming days, and Rachael is especially looking forward to being able to fix our own breakfast in the morning and have coffee as soon as she wakes up.  As soon as we check into our apartment, she dashes out to the store (and has a very frustrating time of it, not returning for over an hour) to pick up eggs, milk, cereal and other fixings.  It will be a nice change of pace.

We walk out for dinner shortly before sundown, and are amazed by the beauty of this place.  Another rebuilt town after the 1693 earthquake, it’s another baroque marvel covered under a UNESCO designation.  We’ll take a look at it tomorrow, so for the moment just imagine a small, quiet place  with  excellent restaurants but not much in the way of tourism, built largely of white marble and filled with an array of striking monuments.

Descending into Scicli, our home for the next two nights. I’m wishing it were longer.
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A misplaced photo, from yesterday. I keep forgetting to include photos of myself, but Rachael keeps insisting.
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Ride stats today: 53 miles, 2,900’; for the tour:  425 miles, 25,300’

Today's ride: 53 miles (85 km)
Total: 417 miles (671 km)

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Suzanne GibsonFinally a video! Yoohoo! Love seeing the roads like this, and great music as usual.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonI read this to Rachael while she was waking up, and she shouted I like Suzanne! She’s my favorite person!
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2 months ago