Distance: 57.4 km
Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Average speed: 20.9 kph
Cumulative distance: 3083.51 km
Cumulative time: 156 hours 20 minutes
Phrase of the day: ‘cambio di programma’ (cam-bee-oh dee pro-gram-mah) – change of plan
Ortigia was extraordinarily lovely. We had a pre-dinner walk about, taking in the very tip of Ortigia island and its sea front…
… the atmospheric streets…
… the main piazza and the duomo, in the Baroque style…
… and finally the lungomare at sunset.
It was all beautiful, and a visual contrast to Catania’s dark volcanic stone. We had dinner very near our apartment, and that was good, with a bottle of red wine blending Frappato and Nero d’Avola grapes. We first had Nero d’Avola on our visit to Sicily fifteen years ago.
The courtyard outside our apartment was full of very cheerful ‘nonnas’ playing cards in the cooler evening air, it was obviously a very serious contest!
We had an excellent breakfast in Piazza Minerva this morning…
… and realised that the flag we’d seen yesterday as we crossed onto Ortigia is the Sicilian flag. It was also flying near the café, and on looking it up, we discovered that it is composed of Medusa the gorgon, three wheat ears, and three legs representing the three ‘corners’ of Sicily.
We left Ortigia, pausing only to have a quick look at the Temple of Apollo on our way out.
It was a tricky navigation out of Siracusa itself, but we managed it without error somehow, and trundled off down the strada statale. We’d read that this area of the south Sicilian coast is full of polytunnels in which various crops are grown, including tomatoes and melons. It seems odd that the polytunnels are used, given the incredibly warm climate, but there are indeed lots of them.
We turned off the main road onto a quieter one and found ourselves near the coast again. We took advantage of a little bar at Lido di Avola for some water – it felt very hot, and quite close under the thin cloud cover. That’s Avola as in Nero d’Avola, the grape. Apparently it was first grown in this region, although it’s very common in Sicily generally now. No grapes to be seen, but there was a nice-looking beach.
We stopped again for lunch not long after, at Lido di Noto. Not a great experience, we waited for ages for our order to come, only to find it had been lost. There were lots of other grumpy-looking people waiting for theirs, too – not the most organised place! Eventually our food arrived, and we ate up fairly quickly and left.
We made short work of our only hill of the day, which at least gave a view over the countryside from the top.
Finally, we saw grapes! Not quite visible in this shot, but our first view of ripe red grapes. There is a different shape to the vines, too, no cordons, just individual, quite vertical bushes.
We’d had something of a change of plan – our apartment host in Pachino had messaged to say that there was a problem with the apartment there, and offering us alternative accomodation near Marzamemi, the little village we’d already been planning to visit en route to Pachino.
So we piled along, and on arriving in Marzamemi discovered that the problem in Pachino was a complete lack of water supply, not only in the apartment, but more widely in the town. The alternative accomodation turned out to be our host’s family home, where we are now settled. It’s extraordinarily generous of them to put us up, they could have just cancelled and returned our payment, but they have welcomed us and given us a lovely room, loads of water, use of the washing machine, and our host’s father is bringing pizza in for us later! They are lovely people, and this far into our Italian trip their lack of English holds no fears! It’s a much more immersive experience than we’ve had so far, but it’s a good time to embrace it, so we’re going with the flow.
So it will be a longer day tomorrow now to Marina di Ragusa, but little in the way of climbing, so we should be fine.
Here’s today’s track.