Stage 37: Gallipoli to Cuturi

Distance: 56.8 km

Time: 3 hours 18 minutes

Speed: 17.2 km/h

Ascent: 294 metres

Total distance: 1869.9 km

Total time: 99 hours 54 minutes

Wordle scores: Captain 4, 4 Stoker 4, 4

Word of the day: “estenuante” (es-ten-you-an-tay ) – gruelling

The Captain writes:

In Gallipoli we were invited to park the tandem at the end of the hotel lobby. It would have been nice to have had the chance to clean it before putting it on display for all our fellow guests, but perhaps we should be proud of the dust.

Our hotel looked out to sea over one of the bastions forming part of Gallipoli’s defensive wall, and featured a fantastic roof terrace where we took breakfast.

We chose to stay in Gallipoli because the island which encapsulates the old town reminded us of Ortigia, part of Siracusa, which we visited on our last Italy trip. Ortigia is more grand, I suppose, but both islands have a high population of locals as well as tourists, and it was thoroughly enjoyable to wander the streets and to listen to their conversations.

On our rest day we visited the castle (aragonese, naturally!) and cathedral, and took a brief ride on the trenino which whisked us round the coast of the island in fifteen minutes flat.

Once again we encountered photogenic narrow streets, abundant restaurants and cafés and also quite a few ‘tat’ shops (tatterie, perhaps?). It’s a lively, vibrant city, particularly during the ferragosto celebrations. On the way to lunch we walked through the fish market, and were interested to see the violet-coloured prawns which have featured on every menu while we’ve been here.

Our visit also gave us the opportunity to view sunsets again, as of course we had almost 360° of water surrounding us while on the island. For our next ‘over-water’ sunsets we will have to wait until we cross to the Tyrrhenian coast.

This morning we pedalled past the bastions and off the island, pausing briefly at a bike rental place to add some air to the tyres, and at a supermarket for essential supplies (Earl Grey tea for the Stoker) before striking off in a northerly direction.

We knew it was going to be a hard day, as the weather forecast was for strong winds from the north, growing in strength as the day wore on, so we would be pedalling into a headwind for much of the day. As we left the city we had one final view back to the island on which we stayed.

Almost all of our route today followed the coastal road, which was busy, as Italy is now in full holiday mode, so we were frequently waiting behind drivers who thought they might be able to park in a space the size of a postage stamp. Patience was called for, and mostly delivered!

There was plenty to look at – emerald green and dark blue seas to our left, the bright umbrellas of the Lidos (all very busy today) and, best of all, a succession of towers in various states of disrepair, marking each of the headlands we passed. All of the towers were visible from Gallipoli’s castle, and formed part of the defensive system for the area.

The first tower, Torre Sabea, was opposite a very popular Aquapark. We had plenty of opportunities to take a look at it while we queued to get past the endless stream of traffic entering the park – on the other side of the road was a beautiful rocky bathing area which was almost deserted.

The second tower was the Torre del Fiume, now known as the Torre Quattro Colonne, the tower of four columns, which better describes its state of disrepair. The columns remain magnificent.

We didn’t get to examine Torre dell’Alto, the third tower, too closely as the road cut inland for a while. Here it is, from a distance.

The traffic started to build up again as we passed Porto Cesareo, and we decided to seek a lunch opportunity at Torre Lapillo. A nearby Lido provided bruschette and two large bottles of fizzy water. Heavenly!

Only twenty kilometres remaining then, and after ten of them we turned away from the coastal road and the traffic slackened off somewhat. The Stoker welcomed the reappearance of the olive groves!

Finally we pedalled, somewhat wearily, up the last hill of the day and along a dusty gravel road, past abundant vines to the welcome sight of our lodgings.

Tonight we’re staying at Masseria Cuturi. Masserie are fortified farm-houses, found throughout Puglia, usually consisting of a complex of buildings surrounded by protective walls – most of them were built in the 16th century. The one in which we are staying is now a wine estate, which was established in 1881 and specialises in Primitivo and Negroamaro wines. It should be a lovely experience.

We’ve now spent more than seven weeks living in the ‘bubble’ of a cycle tour, and we know how fortunate we are to be able to spend our time travelling like this. It’s easy to become wrapped up in the daily routine of cycling, and the pleasures of seeing new places. Sometimes, news from home brings us back to reality. So when we do drink our wine tonight we’ll be raising a glass to friends and, particularly, to family.

Here’s today’s route and a short video

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