[ blog » 2021 » 07_Tour_Italy ]d03: Akragas ( by Philipp Gesang, location: A pizzeria at the Agrigento beach)

After a delicious breakfast I said goodbye to the incredible view on the Segestan temple and carefully walked down the steep sterrato again. At the bottom I noticed the first gear failure: The left attachment of the front fender came loose and was rubbing against the tire. I lost the whole delicate array of washers and the bolt that held it in place, but I managed to fixate the fender to the left Salsa cage where it remained fixed the whole trip. Could be worse.

Pt. 1: Rural Sicily

I took the scenic road from Calatafimi to the southern coast -- not that there's a road on this island that isn't scenic! -- which came with a number of moderate climbs. Where moderate refers to the slope and the length, but not at all to the road surface. Which was rather rough. Those small roads serve mostly agricultural purposes, giving access to the vast orange orchards, and wine and olive plantations. Not surprising at all that most people I encountered on them drove tractors or off road vehicles. With large and robust wheels. That have no issue with the uncountable potholes and the kilometers of asphalt that have long degraded into gravel.

All that was little more than a small nuisance that is quickly forgotten over the spectacular countryside. The slopes covered in olive trees, the steep rocky crags, the endless vines. Judging by the large number of charred fields region seems to be plagued by wildfires. In the distance one occasionally notices a thick cloud of ash emerging over a stretch of land that is in flames; one fire I spotted on the slopes just below the town of Salemi.

Pt. 2: The Long Road to the Temples

The contrast couldn't be more striking: gone were the undulating rural roads, in their place a wide, even road -- the SS 115 -- that follows the coastline all the way to Syracuse. It was loaded with traffic. No autostrada down there means the entire southern coast is connected through that road. Nevertheless traffic was orderly with very few exceptions and I felt quite safe despite being passed by one truck after another. Fairly level thanks to numerous tunnels and bridges, it allows for very efficient travel. Having fallen behind schedule in the morning I recovered much of that loss over the 70 km or so that I followed this road. Nonetheless, it's hard to call it a pleasant ride due to the merciless heat. With 41 degrees it was somewhat less brutal than yesterday but over those 139 km the sun hat much more time to cause damage. Thankfully I always managed to refill my water bag in time but near the end I felt the effects of electrolyte depletion, and the legs weren't working nearly as efficiently as they should have.

I did make it though. The Scala dei Turchi turned out to be rather small, really not much I you've seen the Seven Sisters of south England. Agrigento, the ancient Akragas, hometown of Empedocles, however was fantastic, especially the view from above onto the Valle dei Templi. That view will have to suffice for now, I'll leave an in detail visit of the site for next time I'm on the island.

Today's pizza: Frutti di Mare, in a restaurant right at the beach. I arrived famished as never before and was ready to eat two pizze at once, but it way exceeded my expectations and my hunger.


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