It was a lazy old start this morning; but eventually, I checked myself out of the guesthouse in Pisa, and I jumped on the midday train to Venice. The local train from Venice to Florence was fine; but when I reached Florence, I realised that the city has two main train stations, and that my connecting train on to Venice departed from the station that I wasn't at. Eek! Apparently, while I got off at the "main" station of Firenze SMN, the InterCity train to Venice leaves from the "other main" station of Firenze Rifredi. Anyway, I managed to get the high-speed EuroStar Italia service to Venice instead: that train does leave from SMN; and although it has the added cost of a compulsory seat reservation and supplement, it is quite a nice train, and it didn't get me there too late (less than an hour later than planned).
While camped in my field near Pedagaggi this evening, I was cooking up some dinner in my tent, when I caused a lightning-quick and most disturbing accident. I turned on my little gas cooker (i.e. opened the gas valve, used a cigarette lighter to ignite it), and a massive flame shot out of it, ½ a metre straight up in the air. And this was inside my tent! The flame usually leaps out a little bit when you first ignite it — but not this much. Needless to say, the flame touched the walls of my tent: and it burnt a hole right through my front tent flap. Fortunately, the hole wasn't too big — only about 20cm in diameter — so I was able to patch it up (as an interim measure), with a large tract of trusty 'ol duct tape. The hole is sealed for now, but I'll have to get it fixed properly when I return home next year.
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.
Although I haven't always been a good boy on my trip, so far I've managed to avoid any trouble with the law. I've been a victim of crime before, and I've gone to the police before; but today it was the police that came to me. After I accidentally found myself on the A29 autostrada (freeway) this morning — headed west from Mazara to Campobello — I suddenly and unexpectedly found myself getting pulled over by Sicily's Polizia Stradale ("Highway Police"). As I (pretty much) knew, it's illegal to cycle on an autostrada — and once you get on them, it's impossible to turn around, and impossible to get off until the next exit.
I had lunch (the usual last-night's pasta leftovers) in a sunny little plaza in the town of Paceco today, just south of the city of Trapani. I had the plaza all to myself — except, that is, for a funny-looking old geyser who was occupying the bench adjacent to mine. He sure looked like a poor homeless bum: he hadn't showered since before John Lennon died; he had a beard that seemed larger and less threatened than the Amazon jungle; and he was accompanied by the obligatory garbage bags full of god-knows-what. But when I offered him an apple, he declined, indicating that he'd already had lunch for the day. Maybe he wasn't a bum after all?
For my 5th and final day hiking in the mountains, I intended to just go and visit the famous "Laguna 69" (no idea why it's called that — but it is a cool name!), which is about a 2½ hour walk from my campsite (from last night) of Cebollapampa. Nothing more: simply visit the lagoon, then come back. But instead, I accidentally took the route up the mountains, to the Pisco high camp. Anyway, all turned out well in the end, and I had a much bigger and better day than I originally bargained on.