Santo Stéfano is a gorgeous seaside town, on the north coast of Sicily, that's famous for its ornate local ceramics. It's on a small peninsula, and it's in a fairly quiet area, considering how over-developed other parts of this coast are. I spent one night in the town, before going up into the Nebrodi highlands on my bicycle.
Cioccolata calda is Italian for hot chocolate; and if there's one thing I've learned lately, it's that hot chocolate is indisputably Italian. Nobody makes a hot choccy like the Italians do. It's thick, it's sumptuous, and it satisfies every time. You can't get one at every coffee bar — sometimes you have to subsist on cappuccino — but since I'm not such a coffee man, I try and go hot choccy whenever it's available. It's becoming a tradition, during my Sicilian cycle trip: every day, for morning tea, find a cup of the stuff.
Last night I had a solid and luxurious night's sleep in Sant' Stéfano, and this morning I had an amazing B&B breakfast (my first ever B&B experience, if I'm not mistaken — and it was great). But even all that couldn't prepare me for this morning's ride: from Sant' Stéfano, I decided to take the road south into the Monti Nebrodi; and boy, was it one excruciatingly hard slog! The road began on the coast, just outside the town — and until it got well past the mountain village of Mistrella, it was no less than 4 hours of constant, uphill cycling. It damn near killed me. Plus, it was quite a hot day, and the sun was pouring down on me the entire time. Fortunately, it was a very good road (if rather winding), and the scenery was gorgeous; nevertheless, it was hard to appreciate all that, when my entire body and soul was screaming for relief.
It's no joke: when you go to Italy, you simply eat pizza everywhere you go. Pasta isn't so easy to come by — it's generally only eaten as an appetiser, and it's served only in proper restaurants — but pizza is eaten as a meal, and it's available cheaply and quickly. Most pizza in Italy is vegetarian — just the simple essentials, tomato and some herbs (and possible mushroom, or eggplant) — and it's available by-the-slice, or whole and fresh-cooked. Either way, it's delicious every time. beats Pizza Hut any day.
After a long but pleasant day's riding, this evening I rolled into the lovely coastal town of Sant' Stéfano di Camastra. Call me a lightweight, call me what you will: but there seemed to be no camping options whatsoever around here, and (after roughing it last night) a B&B simply looked too tempting to resist — so I splurged out, and stayed in a B&B in town. And I can't say I regretted it at all: the cost was hardly much more than that of a hostel in Rome (after all, this is rural Sicily, and this is seriously off-season); and the hot shower, comfy bed, and delicious breakfast certainly did me good. What's more, the owner was very nice (although communication was a struggle — ye 'ol language barrier again), and her daughter was quite good-looking.
The morning's ride to Tindari was tough and wet; but in contrast, the rest of the day was easy-going and sunny. From Capo Tindari, I simply continued west for the entire day, along my good friend the SS113 coastal highway. I passed through Capo d'Orlando around midday, but I decided not to ride all the way up to the cape itself: my guidebook doesn't say anything exciting about it; and I've had enough hilly capes for one day. The Sicilian north coast around here continued to be endless, as well as endlessly lovely — it's still a bit over-developed in this area; although the concentration of towns and resorts got less dense as I continued west.
Beach coast around Capo d'Orlando.
I grabbed a delicious hot chocolate and a pastry near Capo d'Orlando; and in the town of Sant' Agata, last night's leftovers became today's lunch. After yesterday's excellent gelato experience in Milazzo, I was kinda holding out for another gelato, in whatever town I happened to pass through this afternoon. Well, that town happened to be the very sleepy village of Caronia: and disappointingly, there was no gelato available there! In fact, there was nothing open at all in Caronia — couldn't even find a packet of chips, a can of coke, nothing — which I felt was most unfortunate.
Sicily cycle map, day 2.
All up, my second day on the road in Sicily was largely calm, relaxed, and easy; albeit a bit uneventful. Anyway, the coast was certainly beautiful — plus, the easy roads made for excellent progress around the island.