Arzechena to La Maddalena - Springtime Spin in Sardinia 2019 - CycleBlaze

May 25, 2019

Arzechena to La Maddalena

We were joined for a breakfast feast on the outdoor terrace by two guests, Helmut and Madeline from Bern, Switzerland. They had been to Victoria and were so excited to be sharing breakfast with us. She loves to swim in the ocean and Sardinia is her favourite place to visit, this being their fifth time here. They said it topped their list of all the Mediterranean locations known for beautiful beaches. Their English was very good and before long the laughs were coming a mile a minute as we compared our time here in Sardinia. We were describing how we have noticed that Sardinia’s coastal towns are designed to be explored clockwise. That is, their narrow roads are designated as one way and inevitably, we are re-routed around the town rather than through it. If we didn’t ride against the flow of traffic, we’d miss the town centre. Madeline smiled and suggested we just go the wrong way and plead, “I can’t read!” if we get stopped. To which David replied that unlike the Swiss, we Canadians are so law abiding we can’t just can’t do that!  Mirko, a former bartender, came to reel us in for a while but eventually we had to pull out of the camaraderie and get on the road. 

Breakfast spread, before we destroyed it, featuring fresh baking by Mirko’s Ecuadoran wife, Olga.
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Cannigione. It is a sailing culture here. We’ve seen several groups of young people learning how to sail and kayak.
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The greeting committee on the tiled roof welcomed us to Cannigione.
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Notice the traditional house style here, with a generous arched balcony and tiled roof.
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Winds have been generally from the side and rear since we started up the east coast. The temperatures have been ideal for cycling and it’s  been easy to balance our fluids (sweating and drinking), minimize fatigue and stay fresh throughout the day. We use Nuun electrolyte tablets in our water bottles and try to always have a supply of salted peanuts and a banana or orange on board.

We had booked a hotel on La Maddalena Island and told them we would arrive before their afternoon closing time of 1pm. This daily closure is a foreign concept at home but in this part of the world, the afternoon siesta is alive and well. So we needed to catch a ferry from Palau to arrive by 12:30. It leaves Palau about every 50 minutes and we had just 20k to get there from Arzachena.

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Palau
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We hopped on the ferry, last ones aboard. We are islanders ourselves so it’s something we are practised at!
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Two car ferries ply this 20 minute route to La Maddelena Island.
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This is what we were expecting for a ferry.
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La Maddalena.
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Fishermen were selling today’s catch from their boats in the postage stamp sized harbour.
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Once off the ferry we headed to our hotel to drop our gear so we could enjoy a 30k loop around the island.

View from our balcony of our junior suite
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Nice place and a deal at 54€, including a full buffet breakfast.
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The name La Maddalena is shared among the town, the island and the greater archipelago of 6 larger islands and another 55 or so islets situated in the Strait of Bonifacio. The entire archipelago is now protected as a national park. Because of its strategic maritime position though, it has had a long military history. We learned that Napoleon Bonaparte suffered his first defeat here in 1793 when he tried to occupy the island, a defeat that was aided by the fleet of admiral Horatio Nelson. During WW II, many anti-aircraft batteries were built into the granite rocks of the islands. They are pretty much untouched and abandoned today. The picture above our bed at the hotel is one of those batteries, named Candeo. And lastly, we were quite unaware until we came here that the American military has had a long presence here and was the major employer for 95% of the population of La Maddalena from 1972 until January 2008.

We made our way slowly over the rough basalt cobbles through town, past the abandoned military base and then to the bridge connecting La Maddalena to Caprera.

The nearby Caprera Island, where Garibaldi spent his last years and is buried, is accessible via a small bridge. Please drive straight.
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The island is hilly, giving plenty of opportunities to take in the view.
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This ficodindia was loaded with fruit.
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One never tires of these blues.
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Fancy a stay in this hotel? Boats of all sizes are available for rent.
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This one suited us well. We hung out here and gave our feet a nice soaking. My feet have never been so soft! Sorry, all you cold water swimmers, we don’t do cold.
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Cool pink granite. The beach here was like grains of rice...smooth little pink granite stones.
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Beach findings, besides small broken down bits of plastic: cuttle bones, teeny tiny abalone shell, limpet shell, sea sponge and a small glass bottle (looks like a serum bottle?).
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Our road twisted its way around the island.
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The pink granite has been weathered over the millennia. We could just make out Corsica in the cloud from this vantage point.
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Aloe species.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like maybe aloe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe
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2 years ago
Looking over the coast behind La Maddalena. It was a fast descent!
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We both had the spaghetti with clams and mussels, along with a bottle of Cannonau, Sardinian red wine.
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Art metal outside a shop in La Maddalena.
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Santa Maria Maddalena church with its replica neo-classical façade.
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Gary-baldy and me!
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On the way back to our hotel, we were treated to this stunning sunset.
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Today's ride: 52 km (32 miles)
Total: 516 km (320 miles)

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