After a week and a half of soaking up the warm weather (and a bit of rain), we're leaving Sicily! The plan is to ride straight through the middle of the island to Palermo for a change of scenery from the coast.
Riding through some of the back roads around Grotte
So glad that it's both sunny and hot!
Riding through the middle of Sicily reminds me a little of the arid terrain of the South-West United States
This isn't a very large island and it only takes us a couple of hours to reach the outskirts of Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Lots of speed traps along the way - haven't seen that in a while. We don't spend too much time in the big city, but instead make our way towards a suburb in the north-west to find cheap accommodations. We end up setting up our tent in an RV park in the coastal town of Sferracavallo.
The sleepy community where we are staying just outside of Palermo, Capo Gallo in the background
On the hunt for some cheap food while taking in the views of the northern shore of Sicily
After researching the costs involved in getting back to mainland Italy, we've decided to take the ferry from Palermo to Civitavecchia, the port town just north of Rome. They've priced the tickets so that it's exactly the same price as the gas it would take to ride there, so we're saving all the time and travel costs (food and lodging). Good deal!
Waiting to board the ferry
The only wrinkle is that the ferry leaves at 1AM! When I booked this, I knew Neda would have a tough time staying up. For that reason, we left our campgrounds just before sunset. The docking port is in Terminal Imarese about 45 minutes south-east of Palermo, so we spent the last half hour of our ride in darkness. The sun is starting to set much earlier in the day, signalling an impending autumn. We've not had to run away from winter for over a year and a half now. Not sure what we're going to do in Europe.
As I suspected, Neda has trouble keeping awake. The shot of Limoncello at the terminal bar didn't help...
Neda and I share a lot of the same qualities, hobbies and beliefs in the important things in life. However, with the smaller things, like the approach *to* life - we could not be more different. For instance, Neda is very much a morning person. I think mornings are the best. The best for sleeping...
The physical pain I feel when I'm forced to wake up early is the same kind that Neda experiences when she has to stay up late. We like to joke that she turns into a pumpkin (like Cinderella's coach) at midnight. Tonight, she doesn't even make it that late. The picture above was taken at 10PM, three hours before departure!
We decide to try boarding a bit earlier. We're the only vehicle in the dock.
It's a 15-hour ferry ride to the mainland. I remembered the ferry we took to Newfoundland and how it was impossible to sleep in those chairs they provided to the general admission tickets, so I made sure we booked a cabin. After the last few days of camping, farms and rustic Sicilian caves, our cramped ferry cabin felt like pure luxury!
oooh, everything's so shiny and modern!
We got let out into the early afternoon sun of Civitavecchia. Fifteen days of riding down and only fifteen hours of ferrying back up! Surprisingly it wasn't raining! Since we had already covered this region, we hopped on the Autostrada and headed north to the province of Livorno. Right into some storm clouds. No luck.
We are staying in a campsite in Montopoli, very pretty town in Northern Italy
And since it's the afternoon, nobody is around. We have the town all to ourselves!
We set up our tent hurriedly, with the threat of rain looming over our heads. I was constantly checking the approach of the storm on my iPhone. The rains actually didn't start until we were safe inside our tent later on that night. It was a bad one, frequent lightning illuminating the outside so that it looked like daylight for a split second. Wind and rain pelting the sides of the tent so hard that we were wondering if our staking job would hold.
Nothing puts a smug smile on your face faster than getting into your tent before it starts to rain.
Nothing wipes that smug smile off your face faster than having to go pee in the middle of the night while a storm still rages outside.
Thankfully the next morning, the blue skies returned. Took forever to dry our waterlogged tent though
Neda: "Tell us how you *really* feel about mosquitos, Gene..."
For the day, we double-backed westwards towards the coast to check out another pretty town that is supposed to have some interesting architecture. When we arrived, we were greeted with a strange sight: hundreds of people milling around the area, all pantomiming for each other. It looked like a Marcel Marceau convention but without the clown makeup. It was so bizarre-looking, so I had to take some pictures.
The ever-popular "You're Trapped In An Invisible Box" pantomime
Some of the participants showed a bit more creativity in a bid to impress the judges:
Neda asked: "I don't understand. Isn't Marcel Marceau French?
Why are they holding the mime convention in Italy?"
Normally to spice up the blog entry I'd insert a mime joke here, but I've never heard one.
Exploring the rest of Pisa
Almost everything in Pisa is related to the leaning tower, since that is only reason tourists come to this small city. There are so many stalls selling Leaning Tower trinkets and souvenirs.
But there are other interesting buildings here besides the tower
Stan Lee riding a bike in Pisa!?!
After having ridden the length of Italy, it's apparent now how different the north is to the south. Everything is more orderly and clean up here. We've been told that there are three major influences, the Greek southern part of Sicily, the German part to the north and there is still a French part to the north-west that we haven't seen yet.
Goodbye Pisa, mime convention capital of the world! :)