Stage 45: Capo Rizutto to Catanzaro Lido

Distance: 56.47 km

Time: 3 hours 22 minutes

Speed: 16.8 km/h

Ascent: 431 metres

Total distance: 2311.3 km

Total time: 123 hours 24 minutes

Wordle scores: Captain 3, 4, 3 Stoker 2, 3, 3

Word of the day: “difficile” (di-fee-chill-ay) – difficult

The Captain writes:

We hadn’t awarded ourselves a two-day break since Polignano a Mare, some time ago. And while a one-day break is fine, we usually spend a high proportion of that day sightseeing, so we don’t get much rest. So this time we booked ourselves into a green oasis by the sea, with a lovely pool, and vegetated for two days!

The hotel is (apparently) much-used for weddings, but there were no nuptials during our stay, just ordinary Italian families enjoying their holidays, and us. It being a dog-friendly place too, there was plenty of canine company. I think (as non-Italians) we were mostly regarded as an oddity, but our very friendly neighbours quizzed us at length about our journey while we admired their jet-black retriever, which was barely a year old, very well trained and full of life.

There were some gorgeous, gnarled olive trees in the hotel grounds – presumably some of these trees have been around for a very long time.

Just outside the trees which form the boundary of the hotel grounds was an olive plantation – we wandered out there at sunset on the first two nights and were amazed to see how many bats there were. While we have pipistrelle bats at home, and often see them as twilight approaches we’ve never seen them in this quantity.

The hotel also had a small private beach a short walk away, which gave us our last opportunity to swim in the Ionian Sea. It was a tricky, rocky entry into the water but once in it was glorious – a perfect temperature.

This morning we pedalled back through the archway, along the gravel drive and straight onto a long steady climb back into the town of Isola di Capo Rizzuto. I don’t know why it’s called “Island of Capo Rizzuto”, as it is a few kilometres from the coast and definitely isn’t an island. Curious!

Just before reaching the town we turned left onto the SS106. We knew we wouldn’t be on it for long, but in the few kilometres we rode towards the town of Le Castella we got a foretaste of what was in store for us today. Not the traffic, which wasn’t too bad, but a strong, gusty, in-our faces headwind. Oh joy!

Putting this to the back of our minds (sort of!) we pedalled down into the rather charming town, until we could go no further south, and spotted the castle: Fortezza di Le Castella. It’s another Aragonese castle, built in the fifteenth century on foundations dating back to Magna Grecia. It is joined to the mainland by a narrow causeway which, on a less busy day, we would have crossed. Today we were happy to admire the view across the water, before scuttling into a nearby café in search of our first litre of water for the day.

The rest of the day was a hard slog, entirely on the SS106, into an unforgiving headwind. The road had a wide margin, and we sat in it, trying to relax and not pedal too hard against the wind. It’s the Stoker’s job to look out for traffic approaching from the rear, and she was kept very busy today.

The combination of high temperatures and strong winds was strength-sapping, and we stopped at around ten-mile intervals to eat biscuits and drink water in order to keep our fuel levels topped up.

We stopped for lunch in Sellia Marina. After a false start in a pasticceria (neither of us fancied cakes, particularly) we found a simple place serving pasta, ideal fuel for the rest of the day.

The afternoon continued in the same pattern, improving slightly as we turned towards the south-west and lost part of the full-on headwind. We caught the occasional glimpse of the coast curving round towards our destination.

Finally the SS206 brought us all the way into Catanzaro Lido, and we located our lodgings a short distance from the main road.

So now we say “Ciao” to the Ionian Sea. Tomorrow we climb over a fairly low (but hopefully pretty) section of the southern Apennines, to the town of Ficarella, just two kilometres away from the Tyrrhenian Sea. We’re likely to be cycling directly into the westerly winds again, so it could be another tough day.

Here’s today’s route and a short video.

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