Out of Palermo
After a great breakfast at my lucky find, this morning I headed out of the Sicilian capital, and found myself back on the road. I didn't really see much of Palermo — although I was here almost 24 hours, all I did was relax and catch up online — but I don't think I missed that much: apart from a few nice churches and museums (which are everywhere in Italy), it's really just a big and chaotic city. From Palermo, I headed south-west, uphill past the town of Monreale, and over a small set of mountains to Partinico. The weather was perfect when I first headed out, although it quickly deteriorated into a cold, light drizzle; and to some extent, the dreaded wind of previous days came back with a bite.
Getting out of Palermo proved to be less difficult than I'd feared. Fortunately, the road that I needed to take — the highway south-west to Monreale — is a main artery that begins right in Palermo's historic centre (where I was staying), so I was able to cycle up one road, that that got me pretty much all the way out of town. The fact that this road was one-way in some spots (the wrong one way, that is) made it a little tricky; but otherwise it was fine, and the Sunday morning traffic was quite light as well.
The riding was uphill pretty much all morning — but I found it surprisingly easier than the long uphills I've done on previous days. I think that a few factors contributed to this: I had most of yesterday to recover and to rejuvenate myself; I wolfed down a really solid breakfast this morning; and I guess that after 7 days straight of cycling (this being day 8), I'm getting into it and getting fitter.
From Monreale, I continued up the winding highway to the town of Borgetto, where I managed to buy some groceries that I was out of, and where I found all the locals in a very lively, very Sunday market-ish state. Soon after Borgetto, I reached the crest of the hills in this area; and thereafter followed a long, winding stretch of descent. This was the road from Borgetto to Partinico: it was quite an impressive route, with sheer cliffs all around in some parts, and with the road hugging the narrow gorges tightly, and performing some crazy sharp bends at regular intervals. This would have been more fun — except that this was when it really started to get cold and drizzly, so I totally freezed my nads off coming down.
After I'd made it down out of these hills, and gotten around Partinico, I decided that a coffee break was in order — I found a roadside bar on the highway, and warmed myself up with the daily hot choc. From there, it was a reasonably flat ride for the rest of the day — through the town of Alcamo (lunch stop), and then on to Segesta — more-or-less easy going, except for the wind still being something of a bitch.