Today's ride to the small Baroque hilltop town of Noto was a cyclist's heaven. Out of Syracuse, yesterday's smokestacks gave way to silos, industrial areas turned to lemon and olive orchards. "Lemon trees, very pretty..." was soon on my lips. Traffic was lighter, the road flatter and the wind was dancing elsewhere. It was a popular stretch for bicycle road racers, who passed in groups heading the other direction. We waved our mutual camaraderie. Part way along, I turned off towards the sea and travelled a tranquil oceanside road to Noto harbour. Lots of sun umbrellas and chubby sunbathers speckled the shore. I was tempted to join their basking but kept on route and the steady climb to Noto. In Noto by chance I found a B&B that kindly offered an incredible panoramic view from their balcony (see photo).
After lounging too long in Noto, I took a local rural route to Modica, the second corner of the Baroque Triangle. This road just seemed to climb and climb through olive and grape farms, centred by traditional stone houses. As I willed myself on, I started to feel like one of those sun-drenched grapes and soon my water supply was running quite low with still 20km to go. Other than a few farmhands on tractors in the distance, no one was about and in this arid land I was starting to wonder what to do. Just then a gate opened for a departing car and the driver picked up on my gesture for water and returned to his home and handed me a chilled 2L bottle, a quarter of which went quickly down my throat. More stiff inclines, a wrong turn, and finally I arrived at Pamela's B&B, just outside of Modica.
That night there was a family gathering. The home cooked Italian dinner and atmosphere took me back to my days in university when I dated a girl from an Italian family. So many courses, plentiful wine and animated talk. It was so relaxing there I stayed an extra day and explored Modica the next day.