Sicily: Ortigia to Ragusa

Antico Roma Hotel 1880 bike use included!

The bike ride this morning couldn’t be called an unqualified success.

It started out ok. I set off down the hill from my hotel freewheeling, (tested the bell and discovered I had 6 gears to play with), and then I hit the sea and the bike turned right as if by magic, into a one-way street with oncoming traffic. I managed to negotiate this ok. And then I found myself in a square, the way out was either to negotiate a one way street the wrong way again, which seemed optimistic, or take a back route that went uphill to the Piazza Duomo, which I did.

Despite changing down a few gears the bike wobbled and I fell off! Fortunately very slowly. My pride and left elbow were dented. As it was so early in the morning there were few spectators. I pushed my bike to the top of the “hill” tried to get on, only to discover the chain had fallen off. In days of yore I would have wrestled with it and got oily fingers. In days of yore.

I pushed the wretched thing back to the hotel and gave it back. The whole episode has taken me longer to write about, it than do.

I am not sure how well this bodes for the real bike trip, which starts Friday.

I will not bore you with the rest of the day in real time! My aunt in her 90’s tells me this bike idea is “a bit drastic” and she got to be as old as she is by having the odd walk with the WI and a pub lunch. You heard it here first, the recipe for longevity, is a pub lunch!

Ortigia the island part of Siracusa is a wonderful island of white stone buildings, with shady courtyards hiding restaurants and cocktail bars, streets full of local artisan stuff, ceramics, leather, art, very little chain stuff. Max Mara has infiltrated and has a shop on the roundabout where the Diana Fountain is. I’ve never had my own fountain before.

I found the food market at lunchtime and had a happy time having lunch, and bought some herbs. On the way out I stumbled across a police car. I have never quite understood why our police need BMW’s to drive around in but here, the cops have taken Euro one upmanship to another level, they have a Lamborghini! I kid you not. Blue and white with lights on the roof. I wouldn’t have believed it had I not seen it.

The Piazza Duomo said to be one of the most beautiful squares in Sicily has 2 churches abutting, one with a Caravaggio (done in a hurry, so not great) and the cathedral of St Lucia, which envelops a Greek temple. Lucia translates, as Saint Lucy seems a tad odd, Lucy’s are usually 6 and not saints. The Doric columns are still visible. It is a joy to sit in the Piazza and while away the afternoon, a bonus being a wedding is held in the Cathedral whilst I’m there.

Later that afternoon we are collected and taken to Ragusa, part of Montalbano country, the Italian detective who has a murder a week to solve in an hour. Our bike briefing is later. The hotels on our route are tasked with raising the alarm if we don’t turn up by 7 pm. With Google maps and my team having Google locator. We won’t be getting lost. If I leave to go home on my own they track me to make sure I make it! Which is a bit spooky, but fine if you actually do get lost.

The bike clues talk of picnics and snakes. One picnic seems to be compulsory as we are so off the beaten track that day, will probably be a nice covered cabana, chill out music, wine ….  This is the second time I have been on a moving bicycle in years.



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