Monday, June 10, 2013

Italy - Coastal Riding

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Promontory in the distance is part of Parco Nazionale del Circeo. Photo credit: Wikipedia
47 miles - Monday, October 17

Riding the Mediterranean coast is delightful. Sunny, tailwind – and for Andy – shirtless weather. Immediately we enter our first Italian national park: Parco Nazionale del Circeo. We ride through coastal wetlands, past dunes. It's pretty and quiet, however a profusion of insects and roadside litter are less than inviting. We exit the park at Torre Olevola, happy to keep sailing along until lunchtime.

Dunes in Parco Nazionale del Circeo. Photo credit: Wikipedia
In Terracina we take a break and resupply camera film and Gaz cannister for our stove. Onward, we hug the coastline for more easy miles. The cold, clean roads of the north are a distant memory, replaced by warmth, spectacular coastline, juxtaposed against detritus on the road shoulder. It's almost two distinctly different countries.

We are steered onward to Sperlonga by proprietors of previously closed campgrounds. Andy and I climb steeply into the village, quaintly situated on a bluff, It's stucco buildings and walkways, begging to be explored. But first we coast another kilometer to the campground at ocean level.

A man stops to chat at the entrance, confirming the campground is thankfully “aperto” or open. When he hears we are from the United States, he removes his gold band from his finger and points out the inscription “Alaska gold”. And something about “1880”. Unable to converse beyond a few phrases in Italian, it leaves us wondering. Maybe it's an heirloom?

Ancient Roman resort town of Sperlonga.  Photo credit: Wikipedia
By 3 p.m. we had set up the tent, locked bikes, and headed for the beach. Northward is Sperlonga, accessible by beach. It's a nice stroll back to the village for groceries before sunset at 5:30. After 3 months on the road we've gone from 56° latitude and 10 p.m. sunsets to 42° latitude and early darkness. Obviously, it changes what we do after dark. Tonight we talk with a German couple in an adjacent site. They arrived for one night and are currently on a 10 day stay. They are smitten with Sperlonga's romantic, narrow alleys. Andy and I look forward to returning tomorrow.

Family gathers for wine production in Sperlonga.
They wave Andy and  I inside  for a look.
After our usual wine with pasta meal, friendly voices and machinery emanate from a small building snuggled between campground and beach. Andy and I investigate. A family group of 4-5 people are running their grape harvest through a contraption to separate grapes from vine and stem. It's a small scale production for personal consumption only, they explain. They allow us a photo.

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