Avola is a sleepy little resort and hangout town, on the east coast of Sicily, just south of Syracuse. It probably gets fairly busy in summer, but it's real nice and serene in November. I passed through the town this afternoon, and I stayed at a campsite nearby during the evening.
From last night's camp at the site of Sabbiadoro, this morning I embarked on the short but pleasant ride north to the city of Syracuse. For part of the way, I took the minor road that stays right on the seashore, and that goes through the scenic area near the resort village of Fontane Bianche; then I cut back to the main SS115 highway, and stopped off at the town of Cassibile. Now, yesterday morning — while passing through the town of Pachino near the southern tip of Sicily — I stocked up on my milk supplies. Sadly, I wasn't able to find any bottles of milk in this small town, so I had to buy a 1L cardboard carton instead. Usually, I only ever buy milk in plastic bottles, with good watertight screw-on lids, so that I can safely shove it in my saddlebag, and use it for several days. However, today I had no bottle — only my cardboard carton, which I'd opened for this morning's breakfast, and of which I'd only used about half of the milk inside. And thus was born the incident with the leaky milk.
Jochen, his wife and his 12-month-old baby girl are on vacation here in Sicily, and they're travelling round for a few weeks in their campervan home. I met them this evening at Sabbiadoro, where they were camped near my tent. The couple are mad about cycling: they've brought their racing bikes down in the campervan, and are getting in a few hours each day; in the past (i.e. pre-baby), they've done such ambitious cross-country cycle trips as the famous Carretera Austral (in southern Chile); and they currently own and operate a bike shop, in northern Italy where they live (they're both originally from Germany).
Noto is a charming place — but the afternoon was still young, and the road goes ever on. So after my gelato break amidst the Baroque façades this arvo, I hit the pedals once more, and rode the short highway that leads from hilltop Noto to the sleepy beach resort town of Avola. My map indicated that proper campsites are in abundance, in Avola and its surrounding area — and when I reached the place, my expectations were lived up to. After a little bit of searching, I found a place that was both open for business (not something to be taken for granted in November), and reasonably appealing as a place to spend the night. And so it was that I wound up pitching my tent about 10 minutes north of Avola (as the bike rides), within the grounds of "Camping Sabbiadoro".
Over the past two weeks here in Sicily, I've met more than my fair share of locals. The main contact has been during my morning visits to the local coffee bars in town — but I've also struck up conversation with them at tourist sights, in supermarkets, and in hotels and B&Bs. Usually, the first thing they ask is: "da dove venite?" (lit: "where do you come from?"); and then when they see my bike, they invariably proceed to give me a wide-eyed stare, and to ask incredulously: "dall'Australia, in bicicletta?" (lit: "from Australia, by bike?"). After about 5 seconds, they realise just how hilarious the notion of cycling from Australia to Italy is — at which point they proceed to burst into laughter, as though it was the funniest joke in the world, and as though they were the first ones ever to think of it. Which of course they weren't, since I hear this exact same joke 10 times every day, and since (therefore) I find it neither original nor amusing at all. After that many repetitions... I'm sorry, but it's just daym lame.
Continuing north along the coast — from the southern tip of Sicily — this afternoon I visited the town of Noto. Noto is the last and the most impressive of the three towns here in south-eastern Sicily which — according to my guidebook — are the jewels of Baroque architecture and town planning in Sicily. As well as a gorgeous historic centre — all of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site — Noto also boasts some delicious gelato. When I arrived here, I found quite a lot of tourists on the street — and all of them were eating the stuff. I felt it prudent to follow the "when in Noto" principle, and to do the same. I had no regrets.