Ciao to the mainland, hello Sicily

Day 10: Amantea to Messina, 96 miles Incredibly, we have made it to Sicily!!!!!! Now all that's left between us and the end of Giro de MurrayBrown is to cycle the length of this Mediterranean island, about 112 miles! 

Today was all about contrasts. We had crazy heat and cooler temperatures, coast and mountains, poverty and tourism. I guess it summed Italy up perfectly.  We were on our way just before 0800 and followed the coastline south. The first chunk of today's ride was flat and fast. The MurrayBrown Express was back up to speed and we both took a turn at the front.

We could see the top of the foot in the distance, but couldn't quite spot Sicily. We also knew it looked like a loooooong way.

The beaches we passed were deserted, but they weren't anything special. 

As we turned right and headed along the top of the foot, agriculture dominated. Villages were few and far between. We were surrounded by really tall bamboo, mixed with palm trees and then moments later, pine trees. It was a crazy mix!  

We had completed our first climb of the day came after around two hours and topped up on water. And a few extras.

We continued upwards and away from the coast. We had to get over some chunky hills to avoid hugging the coast all of the way around the foot. As we went higher so the clouds got thicker. We hit Vibo Valentia which was the most bonkers and busy place for somewhere so rural and cut-off.

A few drops of rain fell on our descent, but it really was a few drops and as we got lower so the clouds disappeared and we boiled once again.

We then passed through a couple of complete dives.  Once again there was litter everywhere.

And poverty smacked us in the face when we saw another two prostitutes standing on the side of the road looking for business.  We couldn't find anywhere open in Gioia Toura to stop for lunch.  So did a DIY lunch from the corner shop.  I'm not looking quite so glam as the model behind me! 

After lunch we were treated to another monster climb. This time 5km. I was dripping with sweat at the top. So much so that I actually felt cold at the start of the descent because my top was so wet.

But the downhill was out of this world as we dropped back down towards the coast and Bagnara Calabra. We also caught our first glimpse of Sicily.

The descent was as good as dropping into Amalfi, with the added bonus of no tourists!!

We stopped in Scilla for a gelato, then just had a few more miles to do to get to Villa San Giovanni and the ferry across to Sicily.

The ferry arrives in Messina which is a busy port town, with a really nice vibe but quite special parking...

Today's stats: 100minutes: the length of time we rode 18mph avg at the start of the day.

1: emergency pizza before getting on the ferry.

1: full-on pizza for dinner.

1: limoncello!! "De la casa" thanks to our  waiter who laughed when we told him we were riding to Siracusa tomorrow.

521km: the last sign I saw for the SS18 road which starts in Naples. We've ridden a large part of that!

Food:

Breakfast: banana, nectarine, plums, mini croissant, toast. Cappuccino. Fruit juice.

Mid-morning: espresso, pastry. Lunch: ham, cheese and crisp sandwich (it's acceptable, we are British), apricots, plums, iced tea (it's acceptable, we are in Europe). Mid afternoon: gelato, cereal bar, emergency piece pizza and a fruit juice.

The locals are now finding it entertaining too: