THE COMPLETE TRIP HERESorry, but I had to change the map into a link. Please, avoid including maps or pictures, which you do not own. Link to Map
Just realizing now that travelling by bicycle often ends-up turning into a sort of a drug: any excuse, so far, regardless of the season, easily tends indeed to transform into a good occasion to pack-up your bike and just leave … and that’s exactly what happened for this new trip too.
In the deep South of Italy I’d already been several times of course, by bicycle however only a first time in October 2012
and most recently in October 2015
Being January, this time it will be a full winter cycling experience and therefore, at least in the attempt to meet a milder weather, the trip shall start from Crotone and then following the Ionian coast of Calabria first and then Sicily we will aim to end-up to "Isola delle Correnti
”, the southernmost point of Sicily.
Approaching the “start-point
, by car, passing through the snowy mountains near Altamura and Gravina di Puglia to reach Crotone, the place chosen as the actual starting point of our bike trip.
The day is terribly cold. In Altamura an heavy snow storm forces me to stop and mount the snow-chains; the journey continues through several difficulties and with some serious concern with respect to the bad weather that we might expect for the upcoming days !!!THE TRIP STEP-BY-STEP
- 18JAN2016: Crotone-Cropani, 60km, 526mH+/565mH-
- 19JAN2016: Cropani-Soverato, 45km, 222mH+/224mH-
- 20JAN2016: Soverato-Marina di Gioiosa Ionica, 64km, 122mH+/123mH-
- 21JAN2016: Gioiosa Ionica-Melito di Porto Salvo, 85km, 313mH+/313mH-
- 22JAN2016: Melito di P.to Salvo-Reggio Calabria, 44km, 312mH+/312mH-
- 23JAN2016: Reggio Calabria
- 24JAN2016: Reggio Calabria-Messina, 32km, 112mH+/112mH-
- 25JAN2016: Messina-Taormina, 50km, 468mH+/412mH-
- 26JAN2016: Taormina-Catania, 72km, 588mH+/598mH-
- 27JAN2016: Catania-Siracusa, 72km, 418mH+/420mH-
- 28JAN2016: Siracusa/Ortigia
- 29JAN2016: Siracusa/Ortigia
- 30JAN2016: Siracusa/Ortigia
- 31JAN2016: round trip Marzamemi-Porto Palo-Isola delle Correnti, 38km, 118mH+/118mH-- TOTAL = 562 km / H 3199 m18JAN2016: Crotone-Cropani, 60km, 526mH+/565mH-
After a pretty cold night in Crotone, today this first stage has been marked-up by rather low temperatures and a strong side wind that gave us no peace till the end. However, all the way long, we’ve been very lucky to have a bright and somehow friendly sunshine, just few clouds ... and a sea of a blinding blue. ... unfortunately the weather forecast for the next days seems to be quite bad and promises rain and snow even at low altitudes !!
Passing by Capo Colonna we stopped for a while in the neighbourhood of the Greek temple of Hera Lacinia where the ruins of the only one left column still dominate the blue horizon.
The journey continues through a sort of gentle rolling fields planted with fennel and artichokes till the somehow unappealing urban area of Capo Rizzuto. It goes a bit better in the vicinity of le Castella where, barely connected to the mainland by a thin land strip, we can visit the beautiful and so far well preserved Aragonese castle.
Just a few more kilometers, not particularly beautiful, and we finally arrive in Cropani where we can find accommodation in the only open B&B of the place !!19JAN2016: Cropani-Soverato, 45km, 222mH+/224mH-
Short but rather tough stage today. Cold, very cold, and water, occasionally mixed-up to snow !!!
The planned route was envisaging indeed some deviations to the sea but, due to the very bad weather conditions, at the end we unfortunately had to adapt the planned route to follow the main road (strada statale SS106), quite busy indeed though never dangerous at all.
To highlight the transition to Copanello, definitely the most critical section of the stage; here inevitable the passage for a very dark tunnel of 500 m that before leaving I studied with a magnifying glass ... just in the attempt to avoid it !!
Immediately out of the tunnel, taking a detour to the right and so far leaving the SS106, the road was repeatedly blocked by landslides and falling rocks. Nevertheless a very nice bit of a road, for the most part overlooking the sea from the top.
The arrival in Soverato under a very cold rain offered us a pretty well-deserved shelter where to warm&dry-up and make plannings for the day after.20JAN2016: Soverato-Marina di Gioiosa Ionica, 64km, 122mH+/123mH-
Today, as soon as the dawn light started to filter through the window blinds I realized that the day would have been much milder than foreseen and, above all, with no rain at all.
Most of the road continued to follow the coastline with long stretches overlooking only from a few meters away the sea, from time to time crossing summer resorts mostly totally desert in these winter days.
A particular mention for their beauty goes to the waterfronts of Soverato, Gioiosa e Roccella Ionica.21JAN2016: Gioiosa Ionica-Melito di P.to Salvo, 85km, 313mH+/313mH-
The nice weather seems to resist !!! Even today a wonderful day with temperatures in the between 13 ° C in the morning and 17 ° C in the afternoon.
Crispy air blows and superb sea views are obviously deeply welcome though, unfortunately, they seem to be totally unable to “compete” nor “compensate” for so much widespread degradation of the surroundings, hundreds of horrible and generally empty or incomplete houses just a few steps from the beach and then the usual infamous junk abandoned everywhere. A magnificent example of an environmental :censored: anarchy, in other words a sort of a total social and economic self-castration !!!22JAN2016: Melito di P.to Salvo-Reggio C., 44km, 312mH+/312mH-
The arrival to Reggio Calabria was certainly not one of the best, some twenty kilometers of large degradation that it would have definitely been better to avoid !!!
However, the thrill of being able to see Sicily across the other side of the Strait was equally great and rewarding; definitely exciting in the background the unique shape of Etna in the amidst of leaden heavy clouds as I had rarely seen before.23JAN2016: Reggio Calabria
Apart the sad degradation of its surroundings the centre of Reggio Calabria is nevertheless worth to be visited. Worth to mention the magnificent magnolias that enrich the seaside boulevard and the Riace Bronzes, finally restored and now standing-up in all their majestic elegance !!!24JAN2016: Reggio Calabria-Messina, 32km, 112mH+/112mH-
During the night I unfortunately had a very bad dream: the bridge over the Strait was there !!! In the dream it appeared to be beautiful, refined, elegant ... horrible !!
Fortunately it was just a dream, nothing more !!25JAN2016: Messina-Taormina, 50km, 468mH+/412mH-
Getting out of Messina, and that wasn’t for me the first time, always has been one of the most complicated things I could think.
Nevertheless, once overcome the initial town outskirts, the rest of the route followed the main road again that, thanks to the parallel motorway, was never busy at all.
The various waterfronts up to Taormina, our final destination for the today stage, enrich with a certain continuity all the surroundings; worth to mention the ones of Ali, Roccalumera e Mazzarò.26JAN2016: Taormina-Catania, 72km, 588mH+/598mH-
Nowadays it appears somehow easy to have everything as for granted, though certain little emotions are still possible, such as cycling in the heart of winter and be faced with scenarios like the one of the picture below: this was the volcan Etna this morning in all its “white cap” elegant magnificence.
Other awesome pieces of a road during today stage, perhaps a little bit "rough" but still definitely beautiful, were: Fiumefreddo, Riposto, Giarre, Acireale, Aci Trezza, Aci Castello.27JAN2016: Catania-Siracusa, 72km, 418mH+/420mH-
I do not know exactly why but getting out of Catania has always been easier than entering its urban area. The road between Catania and Siracusa is not particularly cycle-friendly and, especially around Augusta, not simple to follow at all. Indeed once in the surrounding of Augusta, not far from the petrochemical plants of Priolo, things all of a sudden get somehow complicated: the SS-114 Orientale Sicula becomes a sort of a motorway and as such effectively banned to the transit by bicycles. Mandatory therefore at this point to move to the provincial road (i.e. SP114, ex SS114) following by close several kilometers of the petrochemical plants for finally arriving to Siracusa through the splendid cycleway built just a few years ago on top of the dismissed railway track.31JAN2016: round trip Marzamemi-Porto Palo-Isola delle Correnti, 38km, 118mH+/118mH-
A very mild day today … January the 31st, here in the deep South of Sicily !!
An exciting piece of coastline, all over through extremely quiet roads always overlooking by close a splendid sea. After a few km, just from a little more than an handful of meters away, l’ Isola delle Correnti (the Isle of Currents” ... a kind of magical mirage between the Ionian Sea and the Channel of Sicily.