|Well we crossed the 3.7km strait between mainland Italy and Sicily by ferry. Apparently there have been plans in the past to build a bridge to join the two; it would be the longest suspension bridge in the world. But due to the high level of seismic activity in the area it has been put on hold for now. Based on that, driving through Sicily that worries me a little the highway is dotted with tunnels and crazy high bridges the whole way round I certainly wouldn’t like to be on this highway during any seismic activity!
Sicily is a volcanic island. Its mountain ranges are jagged rock and its high cliffs plunge into the blue ocean. It is the home of the mafia and they still hold quite a strong presence here apparently with many judges needing 24 hour police surveillance.
Palermo, like any ancient city, is a mix of the old and new. In part of the city you would think you were in Paris designer stores and flashy coffee shops and at the opposite end of the city lay magnificent architecture and ruins of a great city, partly destroyed by war, partly by earthquakes.
Unfortunately Willy’s initiation to Palermo was a drive through the middle of the city at peak hour. Which now after visiting the tourist info centre they do not advise! I think the sheer size of Moby and the fact we are right hand drive does make it a little easier, but still I’m amazed at the driving here! It took us an hour to drive thru the city to find a caravan park that was in our lonely planet. We couldn’t find it so we drove around for another hour trying to find somewhere to park for the night. We found this really nice suburb on the beach so we parked there. It looked really rich so we thought it would be quiet. All night there were hoons driving past with their music blaring, then some men came to paint some new white lines.... We were back in the city at 8.30 waiting for the tourist info centre to open so we could find this caravan park!
Now we thought we were doing a good job in Asia at being dirty backpackers but touring around in a van is a whole lot dirtier! By this stage we had not had a shower for 3 days, I have never felt so gross in my life, sorry Grandma but I don’t know if I’m up for going back to my gypsy heritage!
Anyway, we found a caravan park and all was good.
So we spent some time looking around Palmero which is a pretty ok city, better than I expected. There is a lot of really cool old buildings and millions of little alley ways to explore with little shops and pizzerias. And yes who could have thought you would ever get sick of pizza, well I think we have had pizza for tea every night since we got to Italy! It’s cheap and it’s that or toast and cereal which is what we have for breakfast and lunch.
Aside from the shower situation and all the pizza I have really enjoyed Sicily so far. I think the area we are staying at the moment has really made it. We are in a little town just out of Palermo, on the ocean and where everything still runs how it always has. The fruit and veggie man drives his little truck around the streets calling for everyone’s business and Mama comes out and fiercely argues with him over the price. The fisherman bring in the fresh fish every day and its all for sale on the street, I have never seen such big fish! Everyone knows each other and the adults talk and the children play in the streets and there is gelato everywhere. Dolce Vita
Giro de Italia- Stage 1 Team Time Trial Palermo
Now, the main reason we are here in Italy is to follow Italy’s version of the Tour de France, the Giro de Italia, for 3 weeks. I will probably be writing a fair bit about it so for those of you who aren’t interested I will be writing all the sightseeing stuff first and when you get to the cycling part, just stop reading!
Today was the start of the Giro, the team time trial. Prior to the race starting we walked around all the different team buses and looked at their bikes. There are so many nice bikes; we have attached a few pics.
In the team time trial each team (there are 22 teams, with 9 riders) must ride together a time trial course of 24kms. The time the team gets is when the first 4 riders cross the line. It’s a great chance to see all the teams and all together in their outfits!
We sat at the start line for most of the day today to get some good pics; the finish line was just chaos.
The American Team Chipolate ended up winning in a time of 26.32 that is like 54kms an hour average! Crazy!