If there's one thing I believe I deserved after this morning's hellish ascent into the Nebrodi mountains, it's a little relief and relaxation. And — once I was another hour or so past the town of Mistretta — relief and relaxation is exactly what I received. For the rest of today's journey into the Nebrodi, I was cruising all the way! For the remainder of the road to Nicosia (the town that marked "as far in" the Nebrodi as I went), it was virtually all downhill, the weather remained gorgeous, and a sumptuous tail wind pushed me always forward. Perfect opportunity to recover from the morning slog, to cool down a bit, and to enjoy the fabulous scenery of some of Sicily's most striking wilderness area.
First view of the Nebrodi highlands.
Sheep, rolling hills, farmland.
The road that I'm taking — that is, the road from Sant' Stéfano to Nicosia — goes through the western fringe of the Nebrodi. Most of the Nebrodi is protected as a national park, although not all of it is actually uninhabited wilderness. The majority of the landscape that I saw today was farmed: however, the farms were very rustic and medieval, and it was clear that little had changed on them for centuries. The mountains are sometimes barren, sometimes bleak — but always gorgeous, and always sweeping in the vistas that they offer. I think wild is the best word to describe them.
Just to provide some idea of the difference in terrain, between the morning's ride and the midday ride: by the time I'd reached the downhill stretch of the ride, I'd only covered about half the distance to Nicosia; however, that was about 4 out of my (roughly) 5 hours' riding time to the city. Just goes to show: distance is nothing; everything else is everything. If you know what I mean :P.