Day 62: Licata – Agrigento

Distance: 48.41 km

Time: 2 hours 53 minutes

Average speed: 16.8 kph

Cumulative distance: 3301.78 km

Cumulative time: 167 hours 8 minutes

Word of the day: ‘disseccato’ (dees-ay-cah-toh) – parched

We didn’t make much of an effort to see Licata last night, to be honest. After nipping out to the shops for ingredients for dinner we went straight back to our lodgings to drink more water and aranciata and recover from the rigours of a hot, hard day. The Captain prepared a risotto, and we shared a bottle of local red wine, but before long our eyes were drooping!

Still, today was our last day before two full days off, and we’d only planned forty-eight kilometres and two or three significant hills into our effort for the day. We drank some extra water before leaving, “pre-loading” for another parched day.

The first few kilometres were straightforward enough, as we left Licata on a strada provinciale. It being Saturday the roads were reasonably quiet, and we kept up a good pace heading inland to before turning towards the sea and the town of Torre di Gaffe.

Once we reached it we knew we had to join the busier strada statale and start the first of today’s climbs. Luckily the busy road had a bicycle-sized hard shoulder and we settled into it and began our ascent, well out of the way of lorries and coaches.

The first climb achieved, we enjoyed a long pedal-free descent before a second ascent much like the first. At the top was a petrol station, clearly a popular halt, and most certainly popular with us as we could buy cold delicious water, half of which we consumed immediately. The other half was used to replenish an empty bidon.

Again we descended. Again it was a short-lived experience before we set off up the highest climb of the day. As we were approaching the top we spotted a wind farm, with all the blades completely static. It occurred to us that we’d seen virtually no wind farms in Italy, and we speculated that this was because solar would be a more cost-efficient source of energy, particularly in the south.

When preparing today’s route we’d spotted two tunnels on the main road, both several hundred metres long. This wasn’t a viable option for us, and fortunately there was a closed strada dissestata running more-or-less parallel to the tunnel section. A useful cycling blog had alerted us to the fact that while the road was officially closed to traffic, and was indeed quite ruined, it was navigable with care by cyclists.

So for seven kilometres we cycled carefully along a meandering road with numerous large potholes. Here is a picture of the Stoker cycling carefully 😊:

Of course there was no traffic, so we could use the full width of the road to avoid the more serious holes in the road. It wasn’t fast though, and demanded a lot of concentration. We noticed an enormous solar array to the north, so perhaps our speculation about solar power was correct.

We also spotted some huge white grapes growing under cover by the side of the road.

Eventually we were able to turn back onto the main road for a kilometre, before turning onto a smaller road which was heading inexorably seawards. While the predominant trend was downhill we still had a few short climbs to negotiate before we reached the outskirts of the seaside town of San Leone. It still being far too early to check in to our hotel, some five kilometres distant, we called lunch.

After that we wove through traffic on the lungomare for a while before cutting across a small river to the promontory on which our hotel sits. Wait, though, what’s this? A road made entirely of sand, heading sharply uphill! Oh joy, just what we needed! It did, though, lead to our hotel. From the road we could see the town of Agrigento above us.

Here we shall remain for two days, the first of which we intend to use for exploring Agrigento’s famous “Valley of the Temples”. The second we shall spend by the pool, building up energy for what should be the last two days of our journey, via Sciacca to Marsala.

Here’s today’s track.