Monday, May 16, 2011

A Beautiful Challenge

Sunday 15th of May you would think we were back in Greece as we rode the southern coast of the Promotorio del Gargano toward the town of Vieste at the end of this mountainous peninsula. The land rises steeply from the sea and the riding was hard work.

We climbed and descended over every headland, but the beauty and sense of discovery made it a fun day. It started out easy enough as we rolled out of Manfredonia along the beach which was active with sunbathers (the water still too cool for all but the kids). We can only imagine what a crowd it must be later in the summer. Parked by the beach was this motor tricycle. We didn't get to talk to the owner, but noticed the Washington state license plate.

Similar to last Sunday in Brindisi, there was a city bike ride in Manfredonia that we passed by on our way out of town. We were encouraged to join, but needed to go in the opposite direction.

We climbed many switchbacks and had views of terraces stretching from the cliff edge to the tops of the ridges. It is amazing to see the intensive use of such rugged land. We stopped for lunch just after Mattinata and when we had eaten, we found that Belinda's rear tire was flat. After we changed it we headed down the road and felt quite strong after the long climb in the morning. The Italian roads have wonderful grades and we felt that we could make it to Vieste an additional 30 km down the road.

Here is a view back along the coast showing all the headlands we came around. The peninsula is an uplift of limestone karst from 5 million years ago. It is topped by a forest of native trees (Aleppo pines) and is Italy's largest protected area. It also has caves where prehistoric people lived 30,000 years ago and made rock paintings.

As we got closer to Vieste the vistas of rock became more spectacular. There is a very long beach just south of the town which is on top of a huge karst. The rainclouds threatening all day began to look more ominous and we quickly decided on a motel. Here is the view from our balcony of a separate karst with the town looming above it.

We saw limestone karsts in Thailand in 2009, but they are always covered in jungle. We were exhausted at the end of the day, but we were very satisfied. It had been a day of challenges overcome and a day of great beauty. As soon as we settled in it was beer o'clock, and over our beers we decided the next day would be a rest day in Vieste.


Diana said...

The difficulty you had finding a room was reminiscent of a similar plight we had visiting the Cinque Terra region during "The Feast of the Asumption" - a major holiday in Italy. The entire population seemed to be there celebrating and had booked all the hotel rooms. We heard "hotel completo" so many times it has become one of our family jokes! Good info and photos in your blog, as usual.

Dave and Belinda said...

Hi Diana, it almost happened again today. We inquired at three places in Termoli before finding a room. It is still the off season. It is scary to think what it must be like at the height of the tourist season!