Before leaving the Piazza Armerina area on Day 5, I paid a visit to the Villa Romana del Casale (http://www.villaromanadelcasale.it/en/ ) A couple of days earlier I was in ancient Greece just outside of Agrigento. This visit transported me a few centuries later for a glimpse into a Roman Castle from 1700 years ago. I then loaded up my bike again to head for the hilltop town of Agira. My summary for the day was:
Distance: 70 km
Elevation Gain: 1,063 metres
Elevation Loss: 1,105 metres
I took some time at the start of this day to explore the local area, before loading up my bags onto the bike for a ride up to Agira. My main destination was just a few km away – a Roman castle from the 4th century, Villa Romana del Casale. It is a UNDESCO World Heritage site, and contains the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world.
Once back to the B&B, I loaded up the bike for the relatively short 70km trip to Agira. A bit of climbing to start, followed by a long descent, some rolling hills, and a good 8-9km uphill climb to finish. The temperatures had cooled only slightly with a few high puffy clouds against a brilliant blue sky in southern Italy.
My extra bit of adventure on this day would be to arrive in Agira with no accommodation booked. My regular pattern would be to attempt to book something each evening once I decided how far I would get the next day. Given this was May and before the busier tourist season, there was always a variety of options available. But, on this day I never did get the WiFi working before I left Pizza Armerina and decided to “wing it”.
|Villa Romana del Casale|
Upon arriving on the outskirts of Agira, I did spot an interesting-looking roadside sign for B&B La Terza Stella (http://www.bebagira.it/). About an hour later I reached Agira, after the final climb of about 400 metres over about 8-9km! As I was riding along the main drag I saw a smaller version of the same sign just outside a small office. As I was staring at it, Giuseppe came out of the office and struck up a conversation with me. It turned out the B&B is run by his sister, and he offered to give me a ride in his car as he said it was uphill another few blocks away. I respectfully turned down his offer, and rode my way up there. He did drive up there to meet me there, and opened up the B&B to offer me my choice of rooms. We also made our way to the rooftop patio, which offered an amazing 360 degree panoramic view. To the east, I got my first glimpse of Etna partially peeking out from the high clouds surrounding the 10,000 metre volcano!
Later that night, another guest made his way to the B&B – John from the U.K. He would be the first, and only, other touring cyclist I would encounter on this 2-week trip! He was much more experienced at touring than me, and he had been making almost annual trips to Sicily on his bike for about 10 years now. This trip would be about a week long, with a big loop around Etna starting and ending in Catania. This would be my destination the next day, so he gave some good tips on what to see and do.
No fancy dinner tonight, just some good beer (non-Italian) and snacks in a local bar.