It was Thursday, our last day, and our guide, Ben, was proposing to depart from the planned route for an adventure. He wanted to ride back into the coastal mountains and see the town of Savoca, filming site of the Sicilian scenes in The Godfather. The 6,000 vert. ft. in 35 mi. proposed by Strava seemed a bit daunting, but, what the hell, it was the LAST DAY! It called for adventure.
The overcast sky threatened rain all day but we never got more than a few sprinkles. Who ever heard of a bike trip without rain? Once again Sicily surprised us in every way. The roads were winding and quiet with reasonable gradients (5-9%) and spectacular scenery. We rode through scattered old towns, occupied and industrious, with denizens whose families had seemingly lived there for hundreds of years. Buildings were in various states of upkeep and repair–it looked like a hardscrabble, dignified life.
As for The Godfather piece, it was charming but not essential to the day’s enjoyment. Don Corleone is from—you guessed it—the town of Corleone, a mafia stronghold. Unfortunately, in the early 1970’s Corleone was modernizing and not very video-genic so Francis Ford Coppola’s location scouts found Savoca. Today, sightseeing by movie buffs assures Savoca’s economic future and the town keeps its charm while enjoying the prosperity many visitors bring. Bar Viteli, for example, lets anyone wander through with a camera; they also dish up the most expensive gelato Howie found in Sicily at €3.50/scoop!
Later in the afternoon, we returned to Taormina for our last evening in Sicily. We had had a most excellent day’s adventure, and repeated Rich’s refrain to capture the day and all of our days in Sicily: “Now that’s QUALITY!!!” (44 mi., 5,000 ft.)