Day 55: Gioia Tauro – Villa San Giovanni

Distance: 46.5 km

Time: 2 hours 51 minutes

Average speed: 16.3 kph

Cumulative distance: 2858.21 km

Cumulative time: 145 hours 6 minutes

Word of the day: ‘stretti’ (str-ett-ee) – straits (e.g. of Messina)

We saw a bit more of Gioia Tauro than we’d expected, after we got a bit lost on the way to the supermarket. When we realised we were off-course we asked a gentleman walking the opposite way where it was. He answered in what sounded like pure dialect, and the only words either of us caught were ‘subito’ (immediately) and ‘Crai’ (the name of the supermarket)! Fortunately he was also pointing, so we went that way, and there it was. Phew. We bought some provisions, and had a little chat with the friendly butcher about whether a Calabrese’s definition of ‘not very spicy’ is different to an Inglese’s, and whether it snows in Yorkshire!

After dinner back at the apartment we turned in quite early, slept well and woke up quite cold – the air conditioning was wonderfully effective!

Once on the bike, a scant kilometre and three quarters of warm up had us at the bottom of today’s big climb, all five hundred and some metres of it. It started gently, and we ground up it quite efficiently. There wasn’t much to see, as we’d turned inland, but it was pleasant enough. We stopped about two thirds of the way up on a ‘shelf’ in the climbing to drink some water, and then pushed on, negotiating a little diversion at Palmi where they were repairing a roundabout (or something). The latter part of the climb was steeper, and then finally, the crest appeared, and then gradually our rear wheel became higher than the front and we were free-wheeling down.

We stopped to refill bidons and drink more water at a public water fountain where a visiting American of Italian origin was filling water bottles for his parents, who lived locally. “I thought you must be American!”, he said. We confirmed that we were not!

On we glided down the hill, then round a corner and…

Wow. Just wow. There it all was in front of us, the very tip of Calabria, the straits of Messina and Sicily! It was incredible to see it after all this time – we’ve been saying since the start “We’re going to Sicily”, and finally, we could actually see it!

We could also just make out Scilla at the tip of the furthest headland, which a few people in the last couple of days had told us was worth a visit. Our route was taking us right through it, so we’d identified it as a good place to stop for lunch.

First, we had to get down the remaining part of the descent. It was one of those ‘clinging to the hillside’ roads, perfectly safe but a little disconcerting near the edge!

There were fantastic views, Scilla and Sicily getting ever clearer and ever closer.

We stopped at a little restaurant just before the town proper, where there was a great view back to the headlands we’d surmounted to get to Scilla, and had a small but delicious lunch.

It was a pretty place, one side a harbour…

… and the other a long beach.

After lunch we tackled the last few kilometres, arriving in good time at Villa San Giovanni, where we’ll spend our last night on the Italian mainland.

The ferry port is just two kilometres from here, and tomorrow we will cross to Sicily and cycle along the coast to Mazzarò, just below Taormina, where we spent a lovely week in 2003.

We still can’t quite believe it! Sicily!

Here’s today’s track.

2 Replies to “Day 55: Gioia Tauro – Villa San Giovanni”

    1. Thanks! All being well our route from here goes down the east coast of Sicily (Messina, Taormina, Catania, Syracusa) to the southernmost point, then west to Agrigento (to see the Greek temples) then finally across the centre of Sicily to Cefalù, where we intend to stop pedalling and laze around on the beach, before hiring a car to return to Cervinia. J xx

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