Week 3 – Travelers in Italy – Pt2

Sunday 14th to Saturday 20th April

Pozzallo – Taormina – Tropea – Sila N.P. – Matera

Sunday 14/04/19 – Ride Day: Agrigento to Pozzallo 165klms

Palm Sunday and we were woken to the sound of Agrigento’s Church bells heralding the coming King. We packed our gear and enjoyed the most amazing breakfast in glorious sunshine on the rooftop of our BnB. No wets today even though it was a little overcast and the sun eventually came out.

We leisurely tracked south and east as we followed the coastal road, detouring into the small seaside towns on the way. We stopped in Gela for coffee and hit the lunchtime crowd promenading along the waterfront. We also picked the cafe where anyone who thought they were anyone congregated. It didn’t take long before the Guzzi gathered it’s own crowd.

We arrived in Pozzallo without incident and relaxed for an hour before joining the Sunday evening crowd on what seems to be a national pastime of sauntering the main street and eating icecream – can’t say we disapprove. We’re trying to restrict our icecream intake to Fridays, but our BnB host directed us to a Gelatino where apparently everyday is a Friday. Well done.

Day 04

Monday 15/04/19 – Ride Day: Pozzallo to Taormina 185klms

I washed the Guzzi this morning – it certainly needed it, dirty Italian beauties are not a good look.

After another lovely breakfast we headed north on the SS194. We were on a mission today to visit the towns where our daughter in law Gabby’s descendents came from.  First was the hilltop town of Monterosso Almo where her mother’s mother was raised prior to emigrating to Australia.

Then just north and the very next hilltop town is Vizzini where her Dad,  Agostini Lo Giudice, was raised before emigrating to Australia.

We had a look around and negotiated the narrow cobbled streets at our peril.

It was then onto Taormina. Somehow I’d instructed TomTom to ‘avoid motorways’ which was a bad move as it took us through every back street it could find on our way up the coast. We found a quiet cafe, had some lunch, and sorted TomTom out. But she had the last laugh by getting confused and lost through Taormina’s one way streets 😲😨 We finally found our apartment which was one street off the main drag with parking right at the door, literally.

This type of issue is the only fault I have with TomTom Go Mobile, that it can get confused like this right when we don’t need it, so from now on I’ll check it against Goggle Maps for the final approach to our accommodation.

Day 05

Tuesday 16/04/19 – Lay Day: Taormina

Taormina is a very interesting place with a history going back to before 750BC.

We did what tourists do – we wandered and took photos.

There must have been a never ending stream of buses running up and down the hill as there were dozens of tourist groups thronging every area of town.

We visited the local gardens which appeared to enjoy the only level piece of acreage in the whole town.  Taormina is also famous for its Greek and Roman ruins which are generally overrun with tourists, yet we came across this Roman Odeon constructed in 21 BC for small performances frequented by the local Roman elite and there was no-one else there.

I washed the Guzzi again.

Wednesday 17/04/19 – Ride Day: Taormina to Tropea 165klms

Up early and on the road with a run up the freeway to  Messina where we took a short ferry ride across the strait to the Italian mainland.

We then hugged the western coast as we passed through a number of coastal and hilltop towns, (check the viaduct – they’re everywhere)

arriving at our lovely accommodation in Tropea in the mid afternoon.

We had a wander around town which was surprisingly quiet but we were assured it would be wall to wall people in the summer with virtually standing room only on its very popular beaches.

Day 06

Thursday 18/04/19 – Ride Day: Tropea to Acri via Sila N.P. 245klms

After a sumptuous Italian breakfast we were on the road. North up the coast for a ways before cutting east towards Cartanzaro then north for 100klms through Sila National Park.

This was a very pleasant ride although the roads left a bit to be desired at times. It was also quite cold with recent snow still in the shades.

Our accommodation for the night was a lovely Agritourismo just short of Acri. It was 2klm up/down a dirt track which would have been very tricky in the wet on the Guzzi 1200 Sport being no lightweight and shod with road tyres.

Day 07

Friday 19/04/19 – Ride Day: Acri to Matera 240klms

There was snow on the eastern mountains as we were greeted to a beautiful clear crisp morning. After the usual high carb breakfast we were on the road with a long and windy descent to the coast. Not a lot of sand on these beaches.

It had been suggested that we savoir a Panini at Craco which is a ghost town. The old town was abandoned due to natural disasters, which has made Craco a tourist attraction and a popular filming location.

We’d noticed a town very high up as we moved inland and up the valley. Norma was expressing concerns that ‘we won’t be going up there will we’, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t; I was wrong. As it turned out it was a good ride with terrific views out across the valley.  The panini was delicious.

A straight run up the valley to Matera was looking good. We’d passed a little sign quite a bit further back that needless to say was in Italian, so I’m guessing it must have said Bridge Down, Road Closed, Seek Alternative Route. Which would have been OK except for the fact that we only had about 25klm of fuel left so going back around was out of the question.

What to do, when old mate local turns up. No problemo, follow me. Yeah right. He’s in a 4×4 and we’re on a fully loaded pig of a road bike and even he’s slowed to a crawl as we follow down one of the roughest roads I’ve ridden even on an Adventure bike with long patches of standing muddy water and deeply eroded channels in the rocky surface. At least there was no sand, and not a sound from Norma on the back as we negotiated the 10klms to a sharp left onto a narrow potholed strip of tar, then straight up the hill to the hilltop town of Pisticci that I’d previously assured Norma, cross my heart, we’d be going nowhere near. Old Mate came through and we were extremely thankful but it had been a heck of an experience, especially for Norma sitting on the back, what a legend even though her side of the story is a little extreme IMHO.

Fueled up and washed the bike with a few admirers watching on. Onto Matera.

Day 08

Saturday 20/04/19 – Lay Day: Matera

Matera  is a  city, famous for the Sassi ancient cave dwellings and its World Heritage Listed system of underground water cisterns. It is also where Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion Of The Christ’ was filmed.

We did what we normally do.

Needless to say we were just two of thousands of people crowding the ancient walkways. In the 1950s, the people that lived in these caverns and habitats were transferred to modern quarters while the Sassi underwent complex restoration works, the objective of which was to return them to their original beauty. It doesn’t appear to be working all that well. But it is very fascinating and beautiful.

We lined up for the queue for the tour of the main water cistern, 8pm tonight along 50 other people. No thanks. By chance we came across the only place where you can descend into the system. And we were the only ones there. Admittedly it’s nowhere near as impressive as the other but for €6 we weren’t unhappy.

So that’s the end of week two which has had its ups and downs quite literally, but the sun is shining. Tomorrow we head south.

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3 thoughts on “Week 3 – Travelers in Italy – Pt2”

  1. Hi guys Bike trip sounds fabulous. We have had excellent weather here but need some rain. 20-24oC for Two weeks which is great for April, normally 12-14oC and very wet. Low pressure arrived last two days so now back to normal. I cannot remember when you arrive in the uk? I know it was July. Just to fill you in on our commitments- 6th July we have our friends 70th birthday party and the 7th July my cousin is having a close family get together and 70th party at her house. 19th July we go away on our boat on a cruise with Princess yachts to Jersey for two weeks. As you probably know JILL is off to NZ on 20th May until 18th June to look after Olga. Apart from that we are around. Hope this fits in with your plans and look forward to seeing you both. Ride safe. Phil x

    Sent from my iPhone Phil Gabriel +44(0)7808 141094 Philgabriel60@gmail.com

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