September 4: Palinuro to Ascea 33.5km

As the daylight slowly appeared the promise of a wonderful day of "sunny Italy" was in the making. Today is an "easy day" according to the itinerary. After a great breakfast it is off to the port by bike a few kilometers down the road to catch a skiff to the grottos carved out of the limestone cliffs along the shoreline. The sun was now shining without a cloud in the sky -- a complete antithesis of the day before. Riding single file down through the small town of Palinuro the group enjoyed the easy pace and warm gentle breeze.

Once in port the biking shoes were traded in for sandals and sneakers, the bathing suits already on, and into small skiffs large enough for six people. Unlike the boats found in the US, these had no life preservers or any sign of something to grab in the boat capsized. We figured that such a possibility just doesn't exist in Italy -- or certainly not in the Palinuro Bay!

Everyone got in a boat with a local skipper and was off to the grottos. The cliffs along this section of the shoreline are shear drop offs many, many meters high. One can just make out the top of the ridge from the water. In several places are the ruins of old castles or villas that found the cliff edge a safe place to reside while guarding the bay. The grottos are a result of both the water of the sea washing up against the rock as well as underground water eroding from within. Several of the openings were large enough to enter as see the stalactites and stalagmites forming within. In one very dark cave, the water was a perfect blue the result of the sun penetrating through a crack in the exterior was deep below the water line.

The sightseeing of the area was halted long enough for everyone to enjoy a dip in the warm water. After sitting in the hot sun for an hour or so, the dip was refreshing to say the least.

But then this is a biking vacation, so off to the port, on with the biking shoes and back up the road to our next destination. The route promises to be only a short one, so no one is concerned that it is almost time for lunch! The route is now going to take us up into the surrounding mountains looking down at the coast line. Slowly and steadily the group pedaled up and up the twisting and turning roadway through one little town after another. The town of Picot sits part way up and has the perfect place for lunch. The restaurant's name when translated means " Owl" and like its namesake sits high on a ridge overlooking a beautiful vista of the sea below. The weather is now as perfect as it can get, so sitting on the veranda enjoying the local cuisine is a fantastic treat. Fresh salads, squid, tuna, pastas, melons, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, we all had to ride some more, so filling up on a heavy lunch was not wise. Each had their limit of light lunch and then it was off and pedaling again!

Up around another curve to see a beautiful forest of olive trees stretched out over the countryside -- next a sleepy village with a few men sitting on the sidewalk solving the world problems -- on to a forest thick with vegetation and gentle waterfalls -- each stroke of the pedal brought another experience. 25 km's of climb and then comes Cantonal!! Sitting on top of the mountain it is at the apex of the triangle that separates the up of the day from the down. The next 8 km's require no pedaling! The road wiggles itself down the side of the mountain to the valley as fast as it can. This results in many hairpin turns, some doing a complete 360 degrees. The view is spectacular as one descends into the valley below. However, looking out over the horizon is not immediate concern. The road is steep enough that braking becomes the norm. To let the bike run full out would be foolish, so each rider adjusts their speed to what they are the most comfortable with. Some take the route in a few minutes, others resort to walking -- all done with personal safety in mind. The key is that enjoyment is to be had by all, so the method of descend is not important.

Three quarters the way down appears this beautiful old farm manor home that is our home for the next two nights. Situated among a large grove of olive trees and grape vines, this is the Agriturismo Le Favate. While a phenomenal guest home, it is a working farm with its own olive oil and wine. Needless to say the food and drink is outstanding.

"Okay, We can do this!!!!"

Dario to Sylvia: "First we check the pump!"

"This doesn't look right!!"


Patti: "How does this work?"

Debra: "I'm ready!"

Jackie & Marilyn at the Port

Sue & Jackie

Frankie, Sharon, Debra on the way to the Grottos

Grotto Entrance

Sue & Sue

Sue & Sue

Group Swim


Lunch Break!


Ham and Melon!

Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella, Anchovies, Olives and Oil!!

View from above

Higher We Go!

"Look there is the sea!"

Oh My! We Started Way Down There!