We catch up with David Nolan, one half of our Grey Gappers, in Sicily this week:
We stopped for 4 days at Marina de Ragusa allowing us to cycle every day. The real advantage of electric bikes coming back to the fore, as the towns are on top of hills. Though we are fitter after a year on the road we still like the assistance to help us along up the hills!
Our last run was to the town of Scicli, another Baroque town. The restaurants we had been recommended were closed - this being out of season - so we took a plunge on our own and hit gold. A small family place with great local food. Karen had deconstructed lasagne with fennel and I had 'broken' Sicilian chicken, both fantastic - with half a carafe of local wine at a fair price, too! The 40km run burned off some of the calories...
The next morning we said farewell to our friends at Ragusa we headed off to Modica another baroque town, famous for its chocolate. The place to visit there for chocolate is ‘Antica Dolceria Bonajuto’, they are very welcoming and knowledgeable, with no hard sell and they will let you taste to your hearts' content. Do try the chocolate liqueur!
above: The Cathedral of Noto
The town itself is pleasant but we are getting really baroqued out! We still had our next stop Noto to go, but made that oddest of mistakes and did not believe the route our satnav had chosen for us. We ended up driving through the old town, our wing mirrors clipping other cars, vans and some shop signs, as we nervously drove down the narrowest of streets. Amazingly, the only damage was a scuff to one hubcap. To add insult to injury the whole town seemed to be closed and really quite dull, so tail between our legs we headed off to a site we had been recommended!
above: The deserted (and narrow) streets of Noto.
To add insult to injury, we soon realised that the site offers free shuttle bus to town! With Karen’s birthday coming soon we decided to treat ourselves to a B&B in Siracuse. The free shuttle service dropped us to the train station, and we soon found ourselves in this truly historic ancient city an amalgam of Greek, Roman, Byzantine…. all gives the old town an ancient feel, that is really accessible. There is lots to see and do, the old town being compact is all walkable. The market is just great fun and there is a sandwich shop there called ‘Caseificio Borderi’, it takes the owner about 5-10 minutes to make each individual sandwich a creation from his heart. He regales you all with stories, while breaking off to make little titbits for the queue. Was it worth it? Oh yes!!
The sandwich showman!
After two days exploring this our 5th UNESCO site of the trip home we headed back to the camper park where NiKi has rested in the lemon groves. The owners were very relieved to see us, as they had wanted to call the police to report us missing. Another British couple, Peter and Carmel - plus rabbit! - had arrived while we were gone and were able to guess we had overnighted and managed to calm our hosts. Our lack of Italian getting in the way again, we paid and with a few bottles of their own home made Limoncello, lemons, oranges and grapefruit we set off heading for Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano.
We did not know what to expect not having seen that many volcanos, but when suddenly it just appeared through the haze, snow-capped and majestic, we were stunned.
Our plan was to stay at the cable car point at 1,923mt or 6,300ft, the road up was typical narrow bumpy and very windy. As we climbed, it got colder dropping from 19 degrees at the bottom to 3 degrees at the top.
Though there was no snow forecast it was 5 feet deep all around us. We wimped out and drove back down to Giardini Naxos, a gateway to what we were told was the beautiful town of Taormina, and yes, it is probably the prettiest town we have seen here in Sicily.
Though the sun has left us we will stay a day or two more to see it in the sunshine.
The Route this week: