Day 60: Marzamemi – Marina di Ragusa

Distance: 82.2km

Time: 3 hours 53 minutes

Average speed: 21.2 kph

Cumulative distance: 3165.71 km

Cumulative time: 160 hours 13 minutes

Word of the day: ‘conversazione’ (con-ver-satz-ee-owe-nay) – conversation

We had a wonderfully relaxing evening last night with Nicola and his parents, hours of conversation, while we ate pizza, followed by melon, peaches and gelato. We spoke entirely in Italian for about three hours, and must have committed multiple solecisms, but they didn’t bat an eyelid. There was one particularly amusing incident, towards the end of the evening, when they were trying to compliment us on our Italian but we didn’t understand what they were saying – cue much laughter all round! What a lovely family.

We set off this morning in the wrong direction (deliberately!) as we hadn’t had the chance to look around Marzamemi yesterday. It has a fine small piazza, and many buildings which look more Arabic than Italian. They are rightly proud of their restored tonnara, a restored ancient tuna warehouse, which is indicative of the town’s origins in tuna fishing, in the days when tuna were more plentiful in the area.

After looking around we took breakfast in the usual manner, before setting off in the right direction, towards the south, past the modern harbour.

We wanted, out of a sense of completion, to visit Sicily’s most southern point, and enjoyed a scenic ten miles or so on the way there. Eventually we turned left on a minor road to the bay which looks over the Isola dei Correnti. We stopped, dismounted and dipped our toes in the sea to celebrate yet another milestone on this journey. Incidentally, the sea here is now the Mediterranean, so that’s our fourth sea (Adriatic, Tyrrhenian, Ionian, Mediterranean). Across the sea from where we were standing is Malta, and then Libya.

There’s no more pedalling available to the south!

We couldn’t linger too long, though, as we still had plenty of kilometres remaining in our day. We climbed out of the bay and set off along the coast. We were following the “Sibit” cycle path (Sustainable Inter-regional Bike Tourism, a bit of a mouthful!), which follows the entire southern coast of Sicily, and provides us with quiet roads and the odd cycle path. It crosses a beach at one point, but we decided not to follow that part – sand and bicycles don’t mix very well.

To our left we spotted some vines – presumably Nero d’Avola. At the start of our journey, near Barolo, all the vines sported tiny green grapes. Now most of the grapes are deep red and plump.

Shortly afterwards we turned a corner to find two shallow lagoons, one on each side of the road, full of (mainly white) flamingoes. The only pink parts were under the wings, visible when they took off.

For most of the remaining distance we were adjacent to the sea, which was indescribably blue in a manner we can never seem to capture in pictures. Today it was a paler blue at the sea edge, darkening to a deep navy at the horizon. We passed beach after beach, all occupied with sunbathing holidaymakers, enjoying the sparkling sea.

We made two stops, one for litres of delicious cold water at Bove Marino, and the second for a late lunch of panini at Cava d’Aliga. Finally we turned right off the lungomare and climbed through the quiet streets of Marina di Ragusa to find our lodgings for the evening. Here we have a very unusual but very pleasant outside kitchen – we intend to make good use of it later on.

Tomorrow is another longer day, to the town of Licata. We’ve changed our final destination to Marsala for two reasons. Firstly we were having trouble finding accommodation in the centre of the island between Agrigento and Cefalù (our original end point), and secondly Marsala seems to be a more logical place to end our journey, as it is Sicily’s most westerly point. So we have only four more days of cycling left, plus two rest days in Agrigento, to allow us to visit the Greek temples and then cool off in the pool!

Here’s today’s track.