Archive for ‘Italy’

Sicily on a scooter

So anyway.

Fanny and I spent June riding through France, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy.  Fanny on her bright green Kawasaki ER6F and me on a KTM 990 SMT.

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Fanny somewhere along the Simplon Pass in Switzerland

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Me on the KTM in Chamonix

But before Fanny flew out from China to join me, I decided to fly out to Sicily and hire a scooter to explore the island.

I had been working really hard over the previous year and was a bit tired after the Coast to Coast yomp across northern England. Also, I had nowhere really to go having been unceremoniously kicked out onto the streets and subjected to unnecessary nonsense and drama by the evil Ayatollah of Wimborne and my 怕老婆小弟弟.

So, Sicily it is.

I booked a cheap and very basic British Airways flight from Gatwick to Catania, together with what seemed to be the entire lower middle middle class of Great Britain (as John Cleese would describe). Common people going to Spain, the lower middle middle class to Sicily, and the upper middle middle class to Cornwall. Or so it seemed.

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A few “tornadoes” to tackle on the scooter in central Sicily.

 

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I rode the east, south and central parts of Sicily and visited most of the tourists spots, like Catania, Siracusa, Etna, Modica, Taormina etc… All lovely, but my favourite by far was central Sicily, and in particular Agira that I found so beautiful and peaceful.

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Breakfast!!    So, the general plan was during the two weeks in Sicily to ride (a bit only), drink copious amounts of coffee, eat gelato or raspberry sorbet, look about at stuff, amuse locals with my three Italian words, ride a bit more… and then stop for a beer or two.  A tad lonely without Fanny, but the locals were very friendly and kind.

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Set a route on Google maps on my Apple telephone and then generally ignore it! I loved the back roads pootling about at 30- 40 kph in the hot sunshine

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Catania… very pleasant.

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The Italians absolutely love parades. It gives them a chance to dress up and prance about. It also gives old people something to do between idling about outside cafes

Honda 125 scooter

The beast… my transport for 2 weeks. Brakes didn’t work very well, oil light was on the whole time (not my engine), but apart from that .. perfect for the job.

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Rode up the twisties to Mount Etna and then an unnecessary 4×4 taxi truck for final leg up to the crater. It was asleep.

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Lots of charming old towns and lanes across all of Sicily

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Very charming, indeed

 

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A beer and a good book, relaxing in a street cafe enjoying perfect weather …. a proper holiday

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Different book and a different drink…. same idling about though

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View from my room in Agari… Mt Etna and a plume of smoke in the far distance. By far the nicest place I stayed. It had a 9.7 rating on the booking.com and trip advisor. I could see why.

 

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Looking down from my room …. very nice. After its been hoovered or what ever they were doing for me I spent a relaxing afternoon reading, drinking and swimming.

 

Link to Facebook videos that I live streamed while riding here and there. Bit boring for everyone else, but a lovely reminder to me… and that’s what matters.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Frupertpaulutley%2Fposts%2F10156565786583103&width=500

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Morning coffee on my patio roof garden before heading off to explore again on the scooter

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I don’t normally like swimming pools as I always find a discarded Band Aid plaster stuck to my forehead when I get out… but I make an exception with this one. I was the only guest, too!

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I enjoyed the flora and fauna … reminded me a lot of South Africa

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https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Frupertpaulutley%2Fvideos%2F10156558008028103%2F&show_text=1&width=267

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Only two good days with a boat. The day you buy it, and the day you sell it.

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Perhaps if you owned this one, such worries about money don’t apply… just other worries instead.

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A lot of churches and cathedrals in Sicily. This is just one of hundreds I stupidly photographed.  I realised when I got home and flicked through the album that they all look the same.

Links to Facebook videos I live streamed as I mooched about:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Frupertpaulutley%2Fvideos%2F10156557938953103%2F&show_text=0&width=267

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South coast of Sicily … I stayed in a lovely B&B

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Central Sicily … with Mount Etna always somewhere in the background. Hot, dry, nice breeze, smelt awesome.

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Lots of hill towns … all very charming and relaxed … except the rowdy scooter boys of course.

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So, I get tempted by a very pretty Sicilian lady (aren’t they all) to a  selection of cheeses and salamis …with beer of course. If I remember there was donkey salami, goat cheese, Sheep cheese, the local stuff (delicious)

 

Another short clip from Facebook Live …. needs reducing

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Frupertpaulutley%2Fvideos%2F10156557944523103%2F&show_text=1&width=267

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Another B&B … all found with booking.com and very reasonable

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Which reminds me —-The Mayor of Sheffield —- what an arse. It pleases me no end that I spend so little time in England.

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The bars in the early evening serve food with your drink….so much so that there is no room for dinner!! In fact, I was told that bars compete with each other to attract customers. Good stuff.. I like a bit of healthy competition and a free bun

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A nice evening setting. Popular with tourists. Food pretty good. Beer excellent.

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I am rather fond of mooching around piazzas

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A uniform so smart it has a PhD from Oxford

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East Sicily — just north of Catania

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It is Italy after all

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Frupertpaulutley%2Fvideos%2F10156569074518103%2F&show_text=0&width=267

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Veal … and a surprisingly good orange and onion salad … strange but tasty

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sword fish … not best I’ve had… but OK

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If I am giving the impression all I do is drink beer and idle about … that would be about right.

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Pretty streets … we have these plants in Hong Kong… but no where near as lovely

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Oooh! cakes and pastries

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Nun today and none tomorrow … still keeps the old biddies off the streets

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A visit to the Canadian war cemetery near Agari. Beautifully kept and a poignant reminder of the ultimate sacrifice our ancestors made for our freedom. Sicily was the location of some fierce fighting in WWII and many soldiers on both sides died.  My Great Uncle Jim (Major James Utley) was there, albeit a staff officer like Captain Darling. He later became Papal Ambassador and lived in the Vatican until he was murdered. A book there somewhere.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Frupertpaulutley%2Fvideos%2F10156569001328103%2F&show_text=0&width=267

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Always charming. I like Italy more and more. I revisit a few weeks later with Fanny on our bikes, but the north and east parts. Very lovely.

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A gaggle of original Fiat 500s – “cinquecento”

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woof!

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Bit of an orgy going on there

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This dog was not sure of me at all.

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Some Germans on Harleys … and a Honda scooter!!

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It seems to be a field full of paw paws

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Traveling light … the best way

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All is perfectly fine

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Right … back on the plane and landing at Gatwick at 2.30 am !!! No trains or buses and so quite an adventure to get home.

A really really good trip. I really liked Sicily. Must take Fanny there…. or even buy “that” villa near Agari one day.

 

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