The Amphitheatre in the gods

Posted by on 14, Feb 2023 in 2023 - Sicily and Italy, Italy, Tilly the Tandem

The Amphitheatre in the gods

Once away from the Palermo suburbs the roads quietened down and the villages became sleepy and generally closed up for the winter. Our first stop was at Terrasini at the Bakery BnB where the owner made us some fabulous breakfast muffins which which were able to have on the rooftop terrace. The town itself was chalk and cheese to Palermo. The cars parked properly, the roads weren’t lined with rubbish and the town centre had a square filled with restaurants, many obviously closed

The ride on to Castellamarre de Golfo undulated and we kept close to the coast cycling through numerous tiny fishing villages where everything was, as usual, closed.

We’d planned to enter Castellamarre at the port then cycle up the hill to our accommodation but the road about 1km away from the town was closed – even to bicycles – and we had to slog up to the top of the hill, join the main road then come back down it again to our hotel. Very irritating!!

The town itself was, guess what? mainly closed – a theme we’re finding repeating itself eveywhere unsurprisingly in January but there’s always a couple of restaurants open for the locals and as we are knocking the door down as soon as they open we’ve had no trouble getting seated.

For some reason neither of us slept well that night, we had a great room, quiet comfortable and cool, had eaten well but both spent from around 1am awake. No idea why either. We woke knackered and toyed with the idea of staying another night but in the end opted for getting our worst hill of Sicily out of the way.

Our route out of Castellamarre was up to the Greek / Roman ruins at Segestra at 300m. This was fortunately on a small back road with what we’ve come to expect of small road maintenace standards – lay it, leave it, abandon it, close it. So, as we got nearer to Segestra following the brown tourist signs we came across a no entry sign and road closed sign. We could see the Amphitheatre on the hill in the distance so took a leaf out of the Italian book of driving and ignored it and ploughed on. The road deteriorated until it vanished into mud and rock where it must have been washed away previously so we hopped off and pushed Tilly across the lunar landscape. Once the other side we continued our push for quite a while! We can cycle 7% hills, but anything over we now push. I’d like to say this is to protect Linda’s knee but I think we ‘re just wimps on hills!

We did manage to cycle some more and rolled up at the car park to the ‘Bus Closed’ sign which was a bit soul destroying.

It’s another 100m climb to get to the Amphitheatre on a 1km road and we were both a bit knackered from our ascent this far and this early in the trip. But, you can’t come this far and wimp out so we bought tickets and the guy said ‘Would you like the bus it goes in 3 minites?’ So in record time we got Tilly through all the security barriers, bought tickets, removed our valuables from the panniers then locked them and the back box and Tilly too and sprinted for the bus. When I say sprinted it was more of a desperate hobble.

The driver was so impressed with us cycling he spent the whole time talking to us in Italian and not looking out of the windscreen whilst we hurtled up the side of a mountain not understanding a word he said! We did reach the top very quickly though and then explored this marvellous monument with an incredible backdrop of the Med in the distance. It held 4000 people once and must have been an incredible place 2000 years ago.

We braved the bus for the descent with Linda opting for the brace position from the word go so she couldn’t see the corners and edges on the hairpin bends. Good plan.

At the bottom we had lunch and tranquillisers and then wandered up (why did the Greeks like hills so much?) another hill to see the amazing temple at Segestra, still standing after 2500 years, which is about 2490 years more than many of the buildings here look like they will last. Finally trampled out, rested and fed, the security cheered us off and opened the main gates so we could bypass the security barriers. Celebrity Tilly strikes again!

The ride down from Segestra (after a couple of short inclines) was fab with us rolling for ages and ages on a new tarmac road. (Planned to be abandoned in 20 years time) and we entered Tripani to find another lovely old centre.

We hadn’t booked accommodation as we really didn’t know if we would get that far that day so walked into a hotel right on the sea front and asked them if they could store Tilly which they could and then opted for a sea view room which had a balcony that you could have jumped off into the sea. The town wall was just below with a small path between the hotel and the walls so we had the windows open all night and listened to the sea. Heaven, and a good end to a fab day.

We slept solidly, they could have knocked the hotel down and we’d have slept through it we were that tired and had breakfast on the roof in glorious sunshine listening to a very loud elderly American couple complaining about social media

Trapani is a lovely town with a nice square, some gorgeous building and a nice pedestrianised centre and unlike Palermo, traffic was not manic, the parking good and the rubbish placed in bins. I think I’m becoming obsessed with the rubbish!

Our second segregated cycle path followed the coast again shortly after we passed the salt pans leaving Trapani. We stopped for lunch at the ferry to Mozia – the ancient Phoenician town – and got attacked by a duck who took umbridge at us not feeding him and started pecking our legs instead. Even the local stray dogs stayed clear of him and I considered giving up being a veggie for a day and feeding the blighter to the dogs!

One Comment

  1. Yes, obviously got to protect Linda’s knee !!!

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