Posted by on 24, Feb 2023 in 2023 - Sicily and Italy, Italy, Tilly the Tandem

Sciacca Ceramics
Sciacca Town Hall
Valley of the Temples
Birthday Bubbles… ????
Great start to a day….
Our washed away cycle route boardwalk..
Next stop… Malta

This trip we’re being extra careful with Linda’s knee and trying to make cycles shorter and have more days off for rest. The trouble is when we plan a day off it’s usually accompanied by a walking tour of the city and 24,000 steps, which I’m not sure constitutes a day off!

So we planned to stop in Sciacca as there’s not a lot to see, we’d found a nice hotel and just thought we’d sit in our room and watch the sea for a day. Naturally we didn’t.

We had a walk about, just to confirm that there wasn’t much to see and really liked the old town with it’s steep incline narrow streets and blind alleys.  We weren’t so keen on the main shopping street which had pavements around 20cm wide and a white chevron area which we assumed was a pedestrian zone, but the cars, being God almighty here used as parking, despite the tow away signs. Obviously this  meant you had to walk in the road, which the cars took umbridge at.. If only they’d not parked on the footpath!!

Anyway, it was almost a day off ish but we  decided to have another rest day and  get a new chain for Tilly as the rain that accompanied our day off was profuse and combined with the washing the bike after our  the recent mud experiences  had meant poor Tilly’s chain had become quite rusty.

So off we went to the bike shop, which obviously was at the new town, on top of the hill and a 50m climb in a 1km road to get to. Good job the chain was rusty and we could just push!

I’ve generally lost faith in bike shops. They tend to not be very good with Tilly….and true to form this one wasn’t either.  The guy changed the chains but they didn’t run properly, so we had to remove the back wheel and flip the rear sprocket which seemed to cure it. We’d only find out the day we left, when Tilly was fully loaded, that it hadn’t.

But thinking Tilly was all fine we got up the day after our bike shop visit ready to go and I’d had a dose of Montezuma’s revenge overnight and really didn’t fancy cycling that far from a public loo. I once had a dose like this in Petra in Jordan and had had to hide in a cave and quickly dig a hole and didn’t fancy doing anything like that again – mind you, if you’ve seen the transformers movies, then when Shia Leboef is standing on top of a cave in Egypt, he’s actually standing just above my buried poo in Jordan…

So another day off it was.  We did venture to a bench in the the town square, all of 50m from the hotel,  and watched the world go by and Linda had to go to the supermarket (too far from the facilities for my comfort) which involved up and down about 400 steep steps, which she wasn’t best pleased about.

The next day when we did leave and as seems to be the norm for Sciacca, we immediately found our road was closed.  So that’s 4 closed roads into Sciacca! What is this? A plague town? Anyway we didn’t fancy the detour of 7km so I looked at our map and thought we could try a footpath down the side of the hill to the river, when a very kind jogger stopped and actually took us halfway down the path to show us we could get back on our track that way. Relief all round.

The path itself was another build it, ignore it, don’t maintain it and abandon it jobby and despite looking only about 4 or 5 years old had large chunks of the cobbles missing, boulders on it the size of a small fridge and holes we could have lost Tilly’s front wheel in, oh, and the obligatory overgrowth. But we fought our way through and reached the road we’d been aiming for. Hooray!

The cycle on to San Leone was a race between closed roads and tunnels with the latter winning 3-2. Tunnels are our worst nightmare here. Linda says I’m not bothered by much when we cycle and would try and cycle down steps if she didn’t clip me round the ear occasionally to keep me in check!  But even I get off and walk in the tunnels.  We huddled between the bollards that line the edge of the tunnel when they haven’t been knocked over or bent by drivers and then when no traffic is coming run for the next safe section.  Not fun!

Of course even out of the tunnels the drivers are mad and Linda gets the worst of it too, I have mirrors so watch every vehicle to check they actually have seen us and are moving out (even if only a fraction) but Linda doesn’t get to see this and just has the vehicle hurtle by.  The worst moments are when you see a bus or lorry indicating to pass you and the car behind it ignores this and overtakes the coach or lorry.   You then have to judge whether there is enough room for the car to get past and the coach together or if the car will clear the coach by the time it reaches you. If not it’s head for the verge.  Drivers (and this applies eveywhere, not just Italy) are way to selfish and impatient.

But fortunately most of our day was on the old road, which was really falling to bits now and had been abandoned. Perfect for us!!We had some fab views, quite a few hills and lovely weather – a really nice cycle in the end!

San Leone  was our next stop to visit the Valley of the Temples which was quite extraordinary!

The temples are fabulous and dominate the edge of the old city walls gazing out over the plains below and the sea on the distance.  Well worth a stop and wander. We love the archeological sites here and Sicily is worth a visit just for these.  At this time of year there’s very few people, it’s not baking hot and you can sit and gaze at the temples and wonder what life was like then.

After a brief stop in Licata we had my birthday in Coglitti, a sleepy seaside village with a lovely beach and hardly anyone about.  We gave Tilly the day off, though I did change the brake pads, and wandered up the beach for a coffee.  It’s pleasantly warm – t shirt and shorts are fine in the sun but you need a jacket and trousers after about 4pm. We can’t imagine how busy this place will be in August!

Rested we then headed for the ferry to Malta at Pozallo getting our all time record of 5 closed roads!  The first was a bridge that lay in the river, washed away by a storm on 10th February and will probably stay that way for another 20 years now and the last was my fault entirely.

We’ve actually had some very good new dedicated cycle paths along some of the busiest roads, which has been heaven. But taking a leaf out of the ‘encourage cycling by making it incredibly awkward’ UK school of thought we came to our first cycle barrier, on the cycle route. A concrete bollard between two stone walls. I’m not sure how you’d get a normal bike through but for us it was Panniers off, pedals off, and lift. Better than the main road!

I’d plotted a route to come into Pozzallo but we came across a cycle sign directing us in the opposite direction – and as that direction was downhill we thought great! Let’s follow the official route.

Tillys not a great fan of the beach and that’s where this cycle route ended up. The road stopped and the beach began and we were sitting at the bottom of the large hill. We inspected the sand, checked the map and thought we could maybe cycle along the water line as there were rather surprisingly cycle tyre tracks.

Tilly just sank in so we pushed her along the beach for a few hundred meters to where we assumed the path went in land again – a boardwalk on Google maps – and found the whole area had been washed away again by the recent storm we think. No sign at all of a board walk, so we had to push up through the dunes back to a car park. I can push Tilly on my own in most places, including the beach, but the dune, not a chance! With Linda pushing and me pulling we left a deep rut where Tilly ploughed through the sand and we eventually got to the tarmac!

Jubilant that we could almost see the ferry and had about 1500m to go, we followed the road and ended up on a motorway! Surely not!! Fortunately this was for a few hundred meters and there was a nice shoulder but what a day of strange cycling.

Naturally the ferry was Sicilanlly organised. We rolled up at the car check in and got told to go to the passenger gate, where we couldn’t get Tilly round all the check in airport style barriers so they had to remove them. Then you have to get everything X rayed, because apparently terrorists only come as foot passengers and not in cars. Tillys panniers were taken off and x rayed but no one bothered to look in our back box where we kept our Kalashnikov and grenades. Tilly bypassed all the checks but we had our camping knife taken off us for the duration of the sailing. We then reassembled Tilly and continued to head for the passenger boarding which, of course, was a flights of steps! So we were herded back to the car lane and boarded with the cars. Everyone was very nice and helpful, but it was a bit ridiculous.

So, Sicily done for the moment and on to Malta where we have a replacement Sprocket coming by DHL from Germany to make Tilly fully fit again…


  1. You’ve reignited my long term wish to visit Sicily. An amazing trip. If I make it, will be using a bus and hire car

    • Good plan! Not our favourite cycle destination!

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