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Photo by George Guille, It's going to be a long 300km... Bolivian Amazon

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by George Guille
It's going to be a long 300km...
Bolivian Amazon

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Old 20 Oct 2014
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The Amalfi Coast is one of the world's top motorcycle destination roads, earning it's reputation by offering up twists and turns and amazing sea-side scenery. Situated just east of Napoli, the pretty part only covers 40 kms between Positano and Salerno, but there's much to see in such a small stretch of coastline.

Getting ready to hit the Amalfi Coast!

Worth getting up early for this!

We woke up bright and early because we wanted to really take our time on the Amalfi Coast, but since we were headed eastbound we had the sun in our eyes for most of the ride. The road is short enough that you could probably ride back and forth a few times in a single day, but we wanted to head further south so this was our only run.

Small towns and villages cling onto the Amalfi coastline and provide a pretty backdrop to our twisty ride

Such a scenic view from the road above looking into all the small villages in the bays below

The Amalfi Coast really lived up to its reputation. Our helmets were like bobbleheads taking in the 360 degree panorama of views around us, the coastline far below us to our right, the pretty towns that we rode through, dodging the local kamikaza scooters as they railed around the turns that they have memorized day in and day out. Neda and I both agreed that this was one of the top 5 roads that we've ever ridden in all of our travels. So glad we made it here!

Honeycomb pattern of villas and vacation rentals like kudzu on the cliffs of Amalfi

Local fruits and veggies

Thankfully we were blessed with incredible riding weather, blue sunny skies with only a few clouds lingering in the stratosphere, perfect temperature and not too much traffic on this early Saturday morning. After the last few days of rain, it would have been a shame having to ride this road in the wet.

40 kms turned into a 4-hour ride, we stopped at the side of the road to take many pictures

and when we saw the town of Amalfi, we decided to park the bikes and explore a bit

Amalfi is the main town on the Amalfi Coast, there are tons of other smaller villages that we passed through, but the opulence and the splendour of the buildings here begged us to stop and explore the place a bit more. Amalfi used to be a popular vacation spot for rich British people, perusing all the high-end stores and dining at the expensive restaurants in town. Now smelly, hobo bikers like us wander around and eat groceries from out of our topcase.

Round the Amalfi Coast with an Italian Supermodel?

Like most European beaches, Amalfi had a pebbly shore where we laid out our towels for a soak in the sun and surf

Neda said she prefers the pebbly beaches instead of the sandy ones because you don't get all dirty. Maybe it's because it's what she was used to growing up in Croatia, but to me, my childhood memories were of chasing tiny crabs as they popped up out of the sand after each wave came ashore on the beaches of Ipoh in Malaysia. To me, a beach has to have sand!

That, and pebbly beaches also leave weird pock-marks on your butt when you get up! Or maybe that's all the pasta I've been eating...

An octopus washed up on shore to become someone lucky sunbather's take-home dinner

Waving goodbye to Amalfi beach. Back on the road!

Pictures and words don't really do the ride around the Amalfi Coast justice, so here's a video instead
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
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Old 27 Oct 2014
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Italy has been such a beautiful place to visit so far. The western European culture here is so familiar and comfortable that I've taken over most of the trip planning again, even though my Italian is non-existent. This allows Neda to just enjoy the ride, since she did so much work while we were traveling through Latin America. So basically, this will be a nostalgia tour because we're going to visit every place that I've read about or seen in TV shows from when I was a kid!

We scored a pretty nice place for cheap in Capitello through AirBnB, on the western shore of the boot of Italy, right where the ankle meets the foot. Our place had a great view of the Gulf of Policastro and in the morning, we woke up early to catch the first rays of sunlight rise above the mountain range in the east. These mountains separate the Campagna region where we came from, and the Basilicata region, which we are headed through later in the day.

Nice thing about catching sunrises in the mountains is that you don't have to wake up too early.
This is about 45 minutes after the official sunrise for Capitello

View of the Gulf of Policastro from our place! Spectacular!

Neda looking out into the bay

Early morning fisherman against the many-layered mountains of Basilicata

The Basilicata region is the most mountainous region in Italy, almost half of its area is covered by mountains. These peaks fall and end abruptly at the shoreline, and we skirt the edge of the cliff-side road peering over the edge at more of the fantastic scenery that we had experienced the day before at Amalfi.

In some ways, the road further south of Amalfi was a better drive
because there was much less traffic and it offered the same view of the coastline

And we still got to ride through quaint little villages along the way. Not as crowded too!

We decided to stop at Maratea for lunch, since it was the only coastal town in the Basilicata region. As we got closer, we saw a small statue of Jesus high atop a cliff, which looked kind of cool. But the closer we got, the bigger Jesus grew - the statue was huge! It was so big, we had to investigate, so we rode up this very cool winding road that they had specially built to get to the top of the mountain.

That was fun!

Neda, the CIO (Chief Instagram Officer), gives the shareholders some updates

Cristo Redentore di Maratea stands over 21m high on the top of Monte San Biagio and is the 5th tallest statue of Christ in the entire world. The head itself is over 3m (10 feet) tall! It's made out of pure Carrara marble. Impressive! We spent a bit of time walking around the summit of the mountain, taking in the marvelous views of the town of Maratea as well as the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Just drinking in the scenery!

The Basilica of St. Blaise, also on top of Monte San Biagio opposite the statue

The road that they built to get up to the statue was a ton of fun, and we weren't the only ones enjoying as we passed cyclists and other motorcyclists. The mountain is so steep that they had to build a supported road with switchbacks away from the side of the slope. There were much better views going down, so here's a short video of our descent!

At about 0:09s you can see the statue as we are leaving it

Standing outside one of the numerous churches in Maratea

Maratea is a very picturesque village, but packed with lots of tourists. We had made plans to find a cheap restaurant to have lunch here, but all the places we stopped into had expensive menus and high copertos, so we carried our complaining stomachs further from the centre of town until we stumbled upon a small-hole-in-the-wall diner that was more kitchen than diner. There was no set menu, the Italian nonna who owned the place just continually made different pasta dishes throughout the day and sold whatever she had at the time. So glad that lasagna was what she happened to be cooking at the time. Both Neda and I agreed it was THE BEST lasagna we had ever eaten!

Neda is trying to trick this cat into thinking that there's food to be had!

More pretty Maratea

Back on the bikes after lunch and we're on our way further south. The coastal road takes us through deserted beach towns that probably would have been teeming with tourists from all over the country and Europe just a month ago. I can see and feel the sun and temperature warming up the path ahead of us, and what was an initial wet entry into Italy is turning out to be quite a nice tour! Yay!

Found a campsite right on the beach, as well as a cheap bottle of red wine from the "cellar" of the campground cafeteria

2014 was a good vintage year, wasn't it? Especially the month of September...

Sun sets, wine finished, back to the tent. Stumble, giggle, stumble. Pee a couple of times in the middle of the night...

The next morning, we ride down to the very tip of the boot to catch a ferry!

Saying goodbye to mainland Italy. We're heading to Sicily!

Funny thing is that we had not really planned to ride down this far. We were going to turn inland after the Amalfi Coast but after some research, I found that the ferry ticket was not that expensive and I was intrigued with Sicily even though I don't know much about it. So after some convincing to get Neda on-board, here we are!
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Old 5 Nov 2014
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Great Ride

Spent the last 2 months slowly going through your ride and have now caught up! Great job, really enjoy it. I am in withdrawal now. Post something.
BTW this is my first official post on the HUBB.
Cheers S
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Old 6 Nov 2014
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Originally Posted by airdrill View Post
Spent the last 2 months slowly going through your ride and have now caught up! Great job, really enjoy it. I am in withdrawal now. Post something.
This is exactly how I felt when I caught up! But then they were only in America!
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Old 6 Nov 2014
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Yeah, c'mon Gene

Stop having fun & catch up some, for those of us that are bored at home will ya
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Old 18 Nov 2014
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Just took a little break from riding and writing, working on getting the blog up-to-date now!
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Old 18 Nov 2014
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Happy to hear that you will be stoking our fires within....to get on the road
Warmest Regards
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Old 19 Nov 2014
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We disembarked from the ferry out into the waiting arms of the port town of Messina. With the sun beating hot down upon us, we threaded our way through the congestion of this industrial city. Cars and scooters rushed past us on every side - budding in front of us, squeezing in between us, hanging onto our rear wheels... we quickly realized that the mythical crazy Italian drivers? They were all here in Sicily!

"Oh my god, they're crazy down here", I radioed to Neda. As if to underscore my point, a scooter zoomed past us, running the red light that we were stopped at. I looked behind me wondering if there was an impatient driver ready to yell at me, "Che cazzo fai?!? The light is red! Andiamo! Go, GO, GO!!!!"

Riding south, hugging the eastern coast of Sicily

It took us a good long while to make it out of the city centre. I decided that maybe we should bypass the Autostrada to save some money, but as the slow ride continued, the heat and the traffic were beginning to take their toll (no pun intended) on Neda. We passed several small towns on the coast and I remarked to her how ever since leaving Rome, the towns and buildings in Southern Italy had really begun to resemble Latin America - everything was a bit more unkempt and a bit less maintained than the north. Neda grunted her agreement. She was in no mood to converse.

Our route down the eastern shore took on a pattern: small unkempt sea-side towns, coastal road, sea-side-town, coastal road. After a couple of hours, we got the general idea. So we sucked it up and hopped on the Autostrada and headed towards Syracuse, or as they say in Italy: Siracusa. The toll turned out to be not that expensive. And even though the communicators remained silent after paying, I could hear Neda's voice in my head telepathically admonish me, "We should have taken the Autostrada"...

I think we may be overdoing it with the whole take-the-backroads-all-around-Europe thing. It may be a good idea to hop on the high-speed roads once in a while, and to pick up the pace a little bit too...

Ever wonder what's in that huge topcase behind me? Groceries!

We booked into a very luxurious apartment just outside of Siracusa and stocked up on yummy Italian groceries since we had a kitchen for the next couple of days. Our AirBnB host told us of some great places to visit in Sicily so we took some notes.

Our first stop, Ortigia!

Ortigia is a small island that's basically attached to the coastal city of Siracusa by a couple of very short bridges. It's the historical centre of town and is where all the touristy stuff is located, so we ride down to take in the sights. As usual, we do like the scooters do and park anywhere and don't pay a single cent!

The Fountain of Diana in Piazza Archimede

Did you know the famous Greek mathematician Archimedes was born in Siracusa? Although he was known for a whole bunch of mathematical stuff, the one fact that sticks out for me is that he was the first to exclaim, "Eureka!"

"Oh Don Juan, you charmer, you!"

Piazza del Duomo

The most famous sight in Ortigia is the Duomo di Siracusa. It's in the Piazza Duomo which dazzled us with its expansive white stone floor. In the bright Sicilian sunlit afternoon, you definitely need sunglasses to shield you from the glare!

The Duomo was actually originally an old 5th-century Greek temple (the Temple of Minerva) that was converted to a church. Carve an arch here and there, add a few columns and voila, instant church! Sacramental pita bread for the Holy Communion...

Here you can listen to some nice accordion music, and then drink from the Holy Grail...

We watched a photoshoot for a magazine on the boardwalk. No socks. Is that the fashion these days?

Someone forgot to tell the weatherman that RideDOT.com is in Sicily. The weather is beautiful down here!

The coastline of Ortigia

Writing on this tablet doesn't look very native to Sicily? Aramaic maybe?
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Old 19 Nov 2014
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Expensive restaurants in the historical tourist town of Ortigia. We have homemade pasta waiting for us tonight!

R1200GS sightings all over Syracuse

I noticed something very peculiar in this area of Sicily. There are tons of R1200GSs here! Not BMW motorcycles generally, but the R1200GS, and specifically the old air-cooled version like mine. These are just a few that I took some pictures of, but there were many, many others that were riding around that I didn't get a shot of. I know it's a popular motorcycle in Europe, but this was the highest concentration I've ever witnessed. So funny seeing my bike all over the place.

One thing I am really glad about in Europe is that our German motorcycles don't stand out all, not like in Latin America where our big bikes got a lot of (sometimes unwanted) attention. But here in Syracuse, not only did I not stand out, but I looked like a local! At least with my helmet on and the visor down...

Another one!

Even parked on the smaller streets

Before we headed into Syracuse, we gassed up outside our AirBnB apartment. The gas station attendant showed some interest in my bike, so I started explaining what it was and all the features. He smiled and shook his head. I had misunderstood his Italian. He wasn't telling me he was interested in the bike, he was trying to tell me that he OWNED the exact same bike.

Huh! R1200GS. The official motorcycle of Siracusa!

Opra dei Pupi

A popular attraction in Siracusa is the Opra dei Pupi, an elaborate puppet show with intricately detailed marionettes that enacted classic stories of Knights, Love and Honor in Medieval Europe. This is a modern Sicilian tradition from the 19th-century (but the roots date back to Medieval times) that is being kept alive in this town. Puppet builders and operators practice their craft to the delight of adults and children in daily showings.

We didn't attend the show. The official reason is that it was too expensive for our budget, but truthfully, life-like puppets and dolls kinda creep me out. Some people have an aversion to clowns, I dislike puppets and dolls. There's a scientific explanation for this mild phobia, you can Google "Uncanny Valley" if you're interested.

The ruins of the Greek Temple of Apollo, right in the heart of Ortigia. Too much work to turn this one into a church...

20 paces and Nikons at dawn! DRAW!

I have no idea who this guy is, but I'd like to think that somewhere on the Internet there's blog with this exact same picture of me doing the same thing.

Riding to the Necropolis!

The next day, we set off for the Necropolis of Pantalica which is about 25 kms outside of Siracusa. The road to get there is fabulous and twisty, goes up and down and around the mountainous terrain and thankfully is very well-marked. However every time I saw the sign for Pantalica, I couldn't help but think that would make a great name for a heavy metal band. Like if Pantera and Metallica ever decided to get together, this is what they would call themselves. And their first album would naturally be called Necropolis!

Neda: "We're going to find this place, because Nothing Else Matters!"

The Necropolis of Metallica is a cemetery made up of over 4,000 tombs carved into the limestone overlooking a large gorge, covering over an area over a km long and half a km wide. It's considered a prehistoric site, the tombs were all built during the Bronze Age!

Did they even have ladders that tall in 1200 BC?

As we got closer, it was quite a sight to see all those square holes cut into the rock like the regularly spaced windows of a large apartment building.

It didn't occur to me until later that I was suntanning in front of someone's tomb...

I read later on that the earlier tombs in the 12th century BC are elliptical in shape, but later on they had better tools, so the tombs built in the 6th century BC were more rectangular, and had little vestibules and porches. Neat!

Excavation was done in the early 1900s, but all the tombs had all been raided long before that.

We spent most of the morning hiking around the area before the sun got too hot. I really liked visiting the Necropolis of Pantalica and not just because of the cool-sounding heavy metal name.

Farewell Pantalica! What else is there to see in Sicily?
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Old 19 Nov 2014
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First of all..So sorry to read your sad news.

We have just caught up on your blog and read through the pages since leaving the UK on our RTW trip after selling up everything .. House, table, fork etc..

I really enjoyed reading your blog before we left and now find ourselves on Crete in a very cheap lovely apartment which is a lot less than camping!!...that was after reading about you doing this before..

Here comes the weird bit... we was at the MotoGP..camping in the same place as well as driving down to Sicily at the same time as you!!!...visiting Pompei, Amalfi etc.

Having spent longer than we planned in Sicily (it is rather lovely) basing ourselves in Catania (we went to the west of the island and didn't like it much) with all the places there like Ragusa, Noto etc, We headed for our winter hideout..Crete ( 3 boats, a 3 hour drive across italy and a 3 hour drive across Greece and we were here.)

We would have so loved to have said "Hi" to you both and had a or two.

Next time we will make sure we stay fully up to date on your blog...!!!

Safe travels and keep the great writing and photography up..

Cheers Kevin and Heike.
Facebook " Kevin Heike " come and say Hello as we travel around the world.

Last edited by Overland Tonka; 19 Nov 2014 at 21:37.
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Old 20 Nov 2014
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Originally Posted by Overland Tonka View Post
Here comes the weird bit... we was at the MotoGP..camping in the same place as well as driving down to Sicily at the same time as you!!!...visiting Pompei, Amalfi etc.

We would have so loved to have said "Hi" to you both and had a or two.
Hi Kevin and Heike! It is a small world! Yes, we are going to be on the continent for awhile, so let us know where you'll be when you leave Crete and we can meet up for some BEvERageS!
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Old 22 Nov 2014
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In South-Eastern Sicily, there are eight towns in the Val di Noto (Noto Valley) that were rebuilt after a huge earthquake in 1693. Considerable work was done to populate these towns with the popular Baroque architecture of the day. Noto itself was only 40 kms away from Siracusa, so we hopped on the bikes one afternoon and headed into town to see some cool architecture.

Through AirBnB, we found a tiny cave-like apartment dug out of the old buildings

Kind of small and dusty, but it was right in the historic centre

The infrastructure is not very good in the historic centre. Every afternoon after lunch, the town shut off all the water so all the buildings and businesses in the area had to rely on huge water tanks on-premise that were replenished when the water supply was turned on again in the morning. We had to make sure to turn on the pump every morning to re-fill our tank otherwise no shower, flushing toilets or washing dishes after lunch!

Despite all this, it was a cool experience, living for a couple of days in the centre of town.

We're going to do things a little bit different while we're here in the Val di Noto. Because all the towns look so empty during the middle of the day during the Italian riposo (siesta), we decided to take an afternoon nap ourselves and then do some sightseeing in the evening for a change. Living la vita Siciliana!

Porto Real arch leads to the famous cobblestoned walkway of Corso Vittorio Emanuele

Noto comes alive in the evening, tourists and locals hanging out in front of magnificent examples of Baroque architecture

So many people walking around! I really don't understand the whole riposo thing. I can see that maybe in the middle of the summer, you'd want to sleep off the afternoon heat indoors where it's nice and cool. But this late in the season the days are actually pleasant: mid-to-high 20s. Why keep the same schedule all year round?

Sitting on the steps of the Noto Cathedral

More expensive restaurants. Can't eat here or we'll go Baroque.

Just outside of the historic centre, we found a take-out pizzeria selling large pies for €5. Finally cheap food! We're finding food generally is cheaper in Sicily than the mainland, but the tourist traps in the middle of all the attractions still gouge the holiday crowd.

Why is the beach so empty?

We really wanted to hit at least one of the famous Sicilian beaches while we're down here. Calabernardo Beach is the closest to Noto, less than 10 kms away, so we hopped on the bikes to get some sun in. The place was entirely empty! We found out why... less than 5 minutes after we put down our beach towels, it started to rain.

Of course we checked the forecast before we came. 60% chance of showers means 40% chance of sun, doesn't it?

Back to our cave
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Old 22 Nov 2014
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Our next stop is another Val di Noto city called Modica. It's less than an hour away from Noto, so we take the backroads through what's known as the Iblean Plateau. It's the same kind of limestone geography that we saw at Pantalica. We've booked another place through AirBnB, a farm about 15 kms outside of Modica, and we ride for a while through very narrow laneways lined on both sides low stone walls that Neda says reminds her of Pula.

Our home for the next few days

We really like our AirBnB stays, mainly because of the price point, but also because most of the owners are really cool people to talk to. The owner of this farm was originally from Bologna, but her family moved here recently. She told us all about the good and bad about Sicily. Apparently the Mafia is very real and very present down here. As a tourist you don't really see it, but if you try to start any kind of business, they get involved very quickly.

I've always wondered why Sicily seems to be the very poorest part of Italy, given that it's got such nice weather, it should really be raking in the Euros due to all the tourist activity. However it was explained to us that companies are hesitant to start up businesses here because of the mafia and the government corruption, so there's very little investment in Sicily.

As usual, Neda finds a four-legged friend on the farm

We're continuing our night-time tours of Val di Noto. We hop on the bikes after sunset and head into Modica where our first priority is to find a chocolate store. Modica chocolate is well-known for it's particular dry, grainy texture, they say once you have it, you can't go back to regular milk chocolate. I don't know about that, but we did enjoy it a lot that we bought several bars for the trip, but they all magically disappeared before we even left the farm.

Where did they all go, Neda...?

Neda on the hunt for chocolate in Modica

Historic centre of Modica

Cool night-time architecture

We climbed up to one of the highest points in the city to get a view of the narrow, labyrinthine corridors of the old city

Night-time wedding photos in the old town

Modica was really beautiful at night

*Everyone* comes out in the evenings!

RainDOT.com in Sicily. Can't we just have one week of solid, uninterrupted dry weather?

Back on the farm next day, a huge storm hits the area. We watched from our bedroom window as the water pounded our bikes parked outside. The owners told us that a mini-twister touched down a few kms away! So glad we decided not to camp!

From inside, I could hear Neda chomping down on some dry Modica chocolate to console herself against the bad weather...
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Old 25 Nov 2014
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As we leave the Val di Noto, we visit another one of the Baroque towns on our way out. Scicli (pronounced Chick-Lee) is only a few kms away from the farm that we were staying at.

Tan brown buildings of Scicli greet us

The church of St. Bartholomew is the centerpiece of the town

Our AirBnB hosts told us that although not as well-known or as popular as Noto or Modica, Scicli is perhaps more picturesque and accurately reflects what Mediterranean life might have looked like on the Sicilian coast 150 years ago. Lots of Italian TV program and movies are filmed here for just that reason.

I liked the towns in Val di Noto because they didn't need to slap on pastel paint
on all the buildings to make them look appealing to tourists

Because Scicli is built in the V of two different valleys, there are many places you can walk up to get some nice views of the town

Another point of interest are the Chiarafura Caves, which are carved out of the rocks of the hills overlooking the town. I don't know when they were actually built, but they say that the poor people in the area inhabited these dwellings as recently as the 1950s. We tried to visit a few as they are part of an archaeological exhibit, but the entrance looked like it had been closed for a while, probably a victim of budget cuts?

Close-up of the cave dwellings above the Baroque buildings of Scicli

View of Scicli as we were riding away

From Scicli, we rode down to the southern shore of Sicily and tried to hug the coastline as much as possible as we headed westwards. Neda, being a flora and fauna buff, pointed out all the olive tree orchards we passed by. In a lot of areas, the roads were narrow and in poor condition, reflecting the neglected nature of the island. Once again, waves of deja vu rushed over me, as if we were riding back in Latin America.

Agrigento, outside the Valley of Temples. Our free parking spree in Europe continues!

The ruins of the Valley of the Temples stand high atop a hill overlooking the city of Agrigento. This is one of the things I really wanted to see in Sicily, so we gladly paid the €10 entrance fee and ran into the park like little kids rushing into Disneyland.

Valley of the Temples is kind of a misnomer - the ruins are situated on a ridge overlooking Agrigento

When I was a kid, three things scared the crap out of me: 1) Poltergeist, the movie, 2) Pet Sematary, the novel by Stephen King, and 3) Medusa, the snake-haired Gorgon who turned men to stone with her gaze. Despite the latter, I devoured all the books I could find about Greek mythology, read all the stories about the jealous and philandering gods and their heroic half-mortal offspring. Images of Ancient Greece filled my child-hood fantasies as I pictured myself slaying three-headed dogs and one-eyed giants.

Temple of Concord
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Old 25 Nov 2014
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There are seven temples in the area all in differing states of preservation. Most were built around the 5th century BC. The Temple of Concord is the most-well preserved and is considered one of the best examples of Greek architecture even though it's in Italy. This really brought home the fact that the geopolitical lines on today's maps are just a current snapshot and territorial disputes (Ukraine, anyone?) constantly move and blur the borders over time.

Sitting in front of the Temple of Hera

Temple of Juno. I always pictured Greek temples as being made of white marble!

Temple of Hercules

Greece has always been on our bucket-list of places to visit, so it was the highlight of our visit in Sicily and a bit of an advanced screening to see these Greek ruins here in Italy. This whole trip has been about making my inner kid jump up and down with glee!

Town of Grotto

Accommodations in Agrigento were a bit too expensive for us, since the Valley of the Temples is one of the most visited sites in Sicily. We found a cheap place, again via AirBnB, about 20 kms to the north in the sleepy town of Grotte.

Old Sicilian men gathering in the square in Grotte

Paolo and Lucie were our AirBnB hosts, and they took us out for drinks when we first arrived in Grotte. We thought that was really nice of them, so we invited them over for a home-cooked meal. As Neda was preparing dinner, I told her she was very brave to attempt making pasta for an Italian. Her eyes widened. The pressure was on her now!

Thankfully, the meal passed muster. Paolo told us that the most difficult part of perfecting pasta dishes was not the sauce but the consistency of the pasta. Most people overcook the pasta and that it should be slightly al dente.

Paolo and Lucie over for dinner

It was really nice getting to know them over dinner, and the conversation was very interesting because Paolo doesn't speak English, just Italian and Spanish. Obviously, I only speak English and a little Spanish. Lucie is from the Czech Republic and only speaks Czech, English and Italian. So between us, Neda was the only one to speak all the languages. It was like a UN conference, all of us switching languages and translating to communicate with one another. It was all made easier as the night wore on and the bottle of home-made red wine that Paolo brought with him disappeared.

Lucie was very interested in trying her Czech with Neda to see the similarities with Croatian. It seemed she missed speaking her mother tongue.

I know now that there are many different dialects of Italian, and some regions are so different that someone from another part of the country wouldn't even be able to understand the regional differences in speech. Since my Italian is not so good, the only thing I picked up was that Sicilians pronounce spaghetti: "Schpagetti".

A very entertaining evening!

Scala dei Turchi (Stairs of the Turks)

On Paolo's recommendation, we rode back down to Agrigento the next day to check out the Scala dei Turchi, a rock formation right on the coast. It draws a lot of attention because of it's made of a white rock called Marl. From a distance, it looks like it's made out of marble! This is what they should have built the temples with!

We found a nice spot right on the edge overlooking the Mediterranean Sea

Here we were, sitting on the southern shores of Sicily, having traveled the entire length of Italy. Bare feet on the warm rocks of the Scala, and looking out towards Africa only two hundred kms away, it was nice time to reflect on our journey while soaking up some UV light while it lasted!

The striations in the white rock made of limestone and mud were very photogenic

Did you know it's against the law to take any the Marl rock away from the Scala? Thieves face a €500 fine!

The white is so dazzling in the afternoon sun, you need sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare

A great spot for wedding photos!

Greetings from the south of Sicily! Where to now, Neda?
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
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cuba, rtw, visit

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