Thursday, August 6, 2020

Milano-Torino 2020

Milano-Torino 2020

The pros got roasted at Strade Bianche on Saturday, then drenched at the Trittico Lombardo on Monday. Wednesday they got their reward, a gorgeous day for cycling! And we were out there too as Milano-Torino passed by very close to Piedmont Cycling Resort.

Above you can see just how beautiful it was as Heather contemplates the snow-capped Alps in the distance.

We stopped in Cuccaro to wait for the race to pass through the tiny village.

You can see Vincenzo Nibali on the extreme left in this photo.

We rode back "home" to catch the finale on live TV, getting in with 50 kms still to race.

La vita e bella!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Morning in Monferrato

Morning in Monferrato

We're here! A drive across Sicily, a ferry to the mainland and a drive up the west coast is all it took. Why? We wanted to bring some stuff back with us since we were unable to visit the USA as planned back in March and bring stuff from there.

Hotel Ariotto and Piedmont Cycling Resort are doing OK though clients are rare as you'd guess. There are a few folks enjoying the hotel pool and gorgeous bright sunshine and some of us will go out for a bike ride later today.

Milano-Torino will race past us (well, close) this afternoon so we'll ride out and watch 'em pass, then race back here to catch the finale on live TV.

We're already looking forward to our 2021 season. We hope you are too!!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Covid-19 update

Coronavirus update

We're still at home in Sicily where the virus (for now anyway) seems under control and temperatures are hot, hot, hot!

We'll head up to Piedmont Cycling Resort next week to see our friends and partners and to bring back some stuff from storage up there. Since our plans to visit the USA in March were upended, weren't able to bring the stuff over that we had in storage there, so this is the next-best thing.

Meanwhile you can check the latest EU travel situation by clicking here.

Stay safe. Stay home. We hope to see you in 2021,

Monday, July 13, 2020

Covid-19 Update: No end in sight for USA ban

No end in sight for EU's ban on USA visitors

"Sorry folks. Wallyworld is closed." as John Candy once said. Two weeks since the EU's ban on entry to visitors from the USA it seems things have only gotten worse.

The blog who banned Zio Lorenzo has readers who wonder what's going on here in Italy with us and the coronavirus:

USA still tops the charts of new infections as of yesterday with almost 60 thousand while Italy's currently down in 56th place with just 234.

Statewise, New Mexico reported 255 while here in Sicily we're down to pretty much 0.

Tourists (from the EU) are back in Siracusa with most wearing (or at least carrying them so they can put 'em on before entering a shop) masks and observing social-distance regulations.

So far the solidarity demonstrated by most Italians (and the rest of the EU) seems to be working to combat the spread while sadly that can't be said about the USA. How and why wearing a mask became so politicized there is something for others to figure out, but it's sad nonetheless. We hope for the best for our family and friends in the USA.

We're still not going out any more than necessary though Zio Lorenzo is now attending classes at a local driving school. With the contagion levels at or near zero he's taking a calculated risk.

We'll take another risk and go up to Piedmont Cycling Resort in August to show our support for our hotel partner and friends and to bring back some cycling clothing, bikes and parts from storage up there. We might even see some of the rescheduled RCS promoted pro bike races if they actually put 'em on. A couple of them are planned to pass by very close to PCR.

We'll keep updating the blog, but no new issues of La Gazzetta dello CycleItalia will be emailed until September at the earliest. We plan to re-open Piedmont Cycling Resort in 2021 when (we hope) this pandemic is just a bad memory.

Stay safe. Stay home as much as you can.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Covid-19 Update: No to USA

Covid-19 Update: EU says NO to USA

The verdict is in: The European Union has said NO to visitors from the USA until further notice.

While we're just as sad about this as any other operation in the tourism sector, we can't help but understand when public health is valued more than economic returns.

They say this decision will be reviewed every two weeks but given the seemingly out-of-control spread of coronavirus in the USA at present, especially when compared to the EU-member states, it's hard to imagine things changing quickly enough for us to open Piedmont Cycling Resort in 2020.

Check the blog for updates but meanwhile, why not make plans for summer 2021? We've already moved some client reservations to next season, why not join them?

We'll restart La Gazzetta dello CycleItalia with details for 2021 in September.

Stay safe. We miss you.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Vino Quotidiano (Everyday Wine)


Everyday wine? "Does that mean you drink wine every day?" you ask? In Italian we'd say "Ma certo!" (but of course!)

Wine is far from an extravagance here unless you enjoy high-priced bottles from famous makers. We like those as much as anyone but reserve them for Sunday pranzo and/or special occasions.

For everyday there's vino sfuso, bulk wine put into your own container. Our favorite source is just off the island of Ortigia where we can purchase what you see in the photo (3 magnum-sized, screw-top bottles we use over and over again + a regular-sized, corked bottle) for the equivalent of $15. 

This time of year we drink far less red wine, so two magnums of rosato (a blend of nero d'avola and nerello mascalese) and another of bianco (in this case inzolia) + the rosso (nero d'avola) will keep our wine glasses full for awhile.

Yep, more than 5 liters of good-quality, enjoyable everyday wine for barely $15 at a place 5 minutes from our house via our shopping bike(s).

Even closer to home is the water fountain. Here you can get 6-liters of cold, sparkling drinking water for the equivalent of 50 cents provided you bring your own containers. Ours, just like for wine, are glass know.

La vita e bella!!!

PS-no word yet as to when visitors from the USA might be allowed into the EU. We'll post something here as soon as announcements are made in case you're interested in enjoying Piedmont Cycling Resort this season. Rumors are flying about something being announced July 1.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Getting Dirty in Sicily

Harry & Leather get dirty in Sicily

Until just last week travel was still restricted in Italy due to the pandemic so we decided to explore more of Sicily with bicycles. Currently plans are to allow visitors to Italy from the USA without quarantine starting in July so check with us if you'd like to enjoy Piedmont Cycling Resort in 2020. And while we we're at it during this restricted period, why not help out a local tour operator since we're all stuck on the island? 

ETNA Bike Tours got the call! You can see our itinerary (as well as all of their other offerings) via the link provided. They're now fully open for business but normally need 4 participants to make a tour viable so we suggested if/when they could come up with 2 more to contact us and we'd join them. They instead proposed running it with just the two of us. We weren't going to turn that down, especially as they asked for no increase in price, so we signed up.

They even picked us up right here on Ortigia (at a small extra charge) so we could get started riding right away. As you can see above, Italians are taking the pandemic seriously and following the recommended protocols, including masks when you can't respect the social-distance.

After a short transfer and stop for espresso and change of clothing we jumped on the MTB's they provided after installing our favorite SMP saddles. We always seem to be in-between S and M on bikes sold in t-shirt sizes, but a bit too small is way better than a bit too big! We began on the slopes of Mt. Etna on a Saturday along with plenty of others out on this popular trail - probably because it's easy to get-to from Catania. Normally ETNA Bike Tours would pick you up upon arrival at the Fontanarossa (CTA) airport. 

A lot of this day's riding was double-track with a carpet of pine needles along with a few spots like these. BELLA, no?

Eventually we got to the lava fields, no way around them unless you want to do out-and-back, which was not our plan - we had a guide to drive a vehicle around so we could ride to our night's lodging where our luggage awaited!

We're not big fans of bouncing over large lava rocks but it was just the first day and we really wanted to experience ETNA, so bounce we did.

Our favorite day's ride was our third of the tour. You might be able to see some details HERE. We climbed up a steep paved road in a natural forest preserve to arrive at some really fun double-track with no huge rocks to bounce over. We really had fun, remembering why we got into MTB's in the first place.

For us, there's no pedala forte (and there was plenty of that!) without the mangia bene and ETNA Bike Tours has that covered as well. Maurizio is certainly a buona forchetta who enjoys sharing his knowledge of the best local specialties and where to find them.

Maurizio was there with us every day, helped on various days by Una or JoAnn, ex-pats who like us, have fallen in love with Sicilia and moved here permanently.

More from our favorite riding day.

The final day we rode (mostly) downhill to Giardini Naxos as Heather wanted to check out the museum there. Maurizio and Una rode with us while another staffer, Sergio drove the van down there so we could skip the long slog inland (and uphill!) back to our lodging. GRAZIE!!!

We've worked with a few bike tour biz colleagues over the decades but none as nice or as well-organized as ETNA Bike Tours.  Same with their bicycles - mechanically they were perfect (grazie Sergio!) unlike so many rental bikes that seem to see professional servicing only when they stop working entirely.

We look forward to having them visit us at Piedmont Cycling Resort in the future.