Cycling in Sicily
1. It is possible, but perhaps not desirable, to cycle for 30 miles (including 600m of climbing) fuelled only by half a small almond pastry. I now declare la mandorla the original and best energy food.
2. It is not just possible, but easy and cheap (€3.50), to take one’s bike on the train from the centre of Palermo into the Sicilian hills, enabling the intrepid – but somewhat plump (too many mandorle?) – cyclist to avoid a 400 metre hill climb at the start of the day.
3. Sicilian drivers are considerate of cyclists. I’m taking the honking of horns as a sign of consideration, rather than harassment. After all, it’s good to know when someone is overtaking.
4. My goodness, the landscape is beautiful: views across miles, and miles, of undulating country to the snow-capped Madonie mountains in one direction, or towards the sea, so blue it defines the colour, in the other. Fennel growing wild on the roadside throws out a pungent aroma; sheep bells tinkle. It all helps as one walks up another hill.
5. You’re not supposed to cycle in the bus/taxi lanes in Palermo. But everyone does. It’s Palermo.