Waking up alive at the graveyard is always a good sign
Luckily the walls of the cemetery have protected us from the violent wind and the rain. The morning begins with a leaden sky, ready to rain on us and dark low clouds that run fast, driven by strong southwest wind blowing incessantly. Cycling will be tough but certainly we won’t get wet! The first section of the road is pleasant for our legs, surrounded by flower-filled meadows and mountains with towering rock walls.
Apart from the piles of rubbish on the roadside, another thing capture our attention, there are a lot of dogs. Maybe stray, maybe just free to live their animal lives in the Sicilian countryside. In particular a small female dog strikes us, she challenges us in a mad rush for a few kilometers. She wants to stretch her short but strong legs, it is evident! If we stop she pushes us to start again, she wants to run and she wants to do it in front of our bikes at an unbelievable speed for such a little creature.The fear, however, that she can be hit by cars running on the opposite lane, convince us to try to discourage her, we gently try to push her away but she doesn’t seem to take care of our moves apart from cycling. She runs in front of us even on a steep uphill! She escorts us through a group of barking shepherds dogs and the she leaves. We keep wondering whether she has dont it on purpose or not, brave little dog.
The road that from Corleone reaches the sea, passes through many small towns , Bisacquino , Burgio (well known for the production of handmade pottery) real images of the stories of Sciascia , Tomasi di Lampedusa, and of the many others contemporary writers who still tell of the beauties and the horrors of this land. Finally, the sky is clear , the southwest wind that pushes us back, blew away all the clouds, and now only a deep blue sky and a nice sunny accompany us through fields of olive trees, and the strong fragrance of the Mediterranean spring. The pleasure of the moment is interrupted for a few kilometers from an uphill almost possible to cycle, to enter Villafranca Sicula. A short and well-deserved break in the little park of the desert town (we are offseason and there’s pretty much none around), to enjoy the sun and the rich meal of tomatoes, bananas and a fresh sausage typical of the place, which we will eat small piece by small piece to have the chance to enjoy it as much as possible. Break is over, uphill is on again. The hinterland is a constant up and down, the speed goes from 60 km/h along the serpentine descents, pure joy for every biker with or without an engine, and a 6 km / h to ride the long, steep uphill, which in some places touch the 10 % of slope, of the cultivated hills. The last effort should be the 6 kms to reach the village of Calamonaci, inland outpost from which begins the long descent that will take us to the sea. Retrieving our strength in the desert village of Calamonaci, we have the chance to receive a nice offer of fresh water and a good rest by a very old lady, with a famous lastname Montalbano (the name of the main character of Camilleri’s saga) and to meet a funny man with Einstein style hair, who declares to be (and we trust him) an surgeon of one of the biggest hospital in Rome, our expression shall be very perplexed as he decides to show us the card to prove his profession!
Cycle-route to the sea
We leave Calamonaci and cycle the last last hill that separates us from the sea, immediately begins another Sicily. Temperatures are already less rigid (so far we have cycled quite always wearing long sleeves) the mitigating effect of the sea is evident, landscapes become less luxuriant and drier. Leaving the hinterland we will start having hard time to find water sources along the way. The sea is near but we can not see it yet, still many hills hide it from our view. Quickly we pass Ribera, where the impact with the traffic and the heat makes us pushing on pedals to go faster, on a top of a hill we finally see it: blue and impetuous, agitated by the wind that has opposed has for more then 48 hours, and that will be with us for the rest of our stay in Sicily.The clock is ticking and we must now accelerate to find a place to sleep along the coast, outside the town we meet the first street sign of the cycle path that we will follow to Syracuse: SIBIT. Despite some intriguing signs the cycle route is well signposted and the road is provided with signage that invites motorists to pay attention to cyclists. Posts which are of course completely ignored, perhaps because people her drive at such an high speed that can hardly read them. Once again we are riding on a very dangerous high speed street, luckly is a short ride and after an heavy climb we are on the beach at Eraclea Minoa. We allow ourselves to have a special dinner: a plate of pasta with fish, abundant, good and at a reasonable price. The night falls and we just have the strength to put our tent in the nearby pine forest that soon we are sleeping.
The fatigue and the award
No bathing at sea the next morning, the sea is still impetuous and has completely covered the beach, of the summer pictures of the place there is pretty much nothing.Up on our saddles again we start following SIBIT posts just out of Eraclea Minoa, the sign reports 4 kms of which 1 km is on a dirt road passable only by pushing the bicycle (it will be the first of many signs that will lead us to ask whether it is a cycling route, then thought for cyclists of all sorts , or an adventure camp only for trained people ).Fortunately we managed not to get off our bikes and in a short time we’re back on the asphalt, cycling up and down along the coast, our goal today is the coast of Agrigento. Following SIBIT slavishly sometimes brings as to face uphill that becomes really difficult, we admire the association willingness to create a route that does not ride on high speed roads but sometimes maybe their fundamentalism is too excessive. Anyway it seems we are not good at doing it our selves too, as we end up pushing the bikes along 500 meters of an almost vertical street!
A brief visit to the “Scala dei Turchi”, a wonder of geology, the example of the perfect cooperation among elements: water, earth and air. White crags above the turquoise sea. After a refreshing swim and we meet Angelo, who has offered to be our guide by contacting us through our facebook page, at the entrance of Agrigento.
A visit to the Valley of the Temples, a ride in the cradle of civilization walking inbetween red pillars of tuff and construction sites that have stood firm by 500BC. Italy sites stands firm since then! Angelo, a sicilian guy Favara, offers us to spend the evening ant the night by his home, we happy accept and spend a wonderful evening in the company of that part of Sicily and Italy who love its land and has a profound respect for it, struggling everyday to to make it a better place to be. With our belly full of good food prepared by the imagination of Liliana, we go to sleep, the day after we have to cover more then 80 km to get nearer to Syracuse.