Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Tyrrhenian Coast... to the toe

Ahh, the rain has stopped and I've had two solid days of riding. All the riding has been along the Tyrrhenian Coast, which you could think of as the top of the foot of the boot. Now, I'm in Reggio di Calabria - at the toe. Its the final town before you cross over to Sicily, which I will not be doing on this trip (but plan to in the future ;). 
The last two days of riding have been tough... 143 km yesterday and 113 km today, and it was mostly up or down... there is very little flat terrain along this coastline. 
Today, I will write about my ride on the 27th (I have now reached that point in the vacation where I no longer know the day of the week)... ohh, and the pizza afterwards. 
The ride began in Cosenza (emphasize the Z). It was a overcast morning, but the sun was beginning to peak through. Cosenza is at about 230 m in elevation. To get back to the coast, I needed to climb up to 1111 m, and then descend down to sea level. So, I knew I had a big morning. Soon after hitting the road, I came across the sign below.... I wasn't sure if I should take this as a good or bad foretelling of the day.
What does this mean? (sorry, I cannot rotate photos)
It was a big climb. For those of you in Northern Arizona reading this, I would compare it to the climb from Cottonwood, through Jerome, and over Mingus Mtn. It was similar in distance and elevation gain. It was a great start to the day and I had the road completely to myself except for a few stray dogs (anyone know about rabies control in Italy).
Into the Calabrian hillside.
After the climb and hairpin'd descent, I hit the coast. From here, I had about 100 km to cover to make it to Tropea. It was 11 o'clock. Time to cruise. I did my best and made it to Tropea around 3:45. I was pretty ridiculously tired. The coastal riding here is very hilly, and after a big climb in the morning, the continuous rolling hills really takes its toll. But, I had arrived, and Tropea looked like another really great coastal town. Its built up on a cliff. I couldn't get a good look at the whole scope of it, but if you click here, you can see the view as captured from the sea. I took a long, hot shower and heading out for some food. I caught a photo of Stromboli out in the distance in the fading evening light.
That's Stromboli out in the distance... its a volcano, not just a sandwich.
For dinner, I was craving pizza... and it'd been at least 3 days since I'd had any. I found a small pizzeria and made sure it was "forno al legna" (wood-fired oven). The owners seemed very friendly and the oven was HUGE and built into the restaurant, so I went in. I ordered the Capriocciosa (mozz, prosciutto, olives).  It just sounded good. The pizza arrived in about 15 minutes, longer than the usual wait for wood-fired pizza.
The Capriocciosa at Vecchio Forno in Tropea, Italy.
I would not call this Neapolitan pizza (and just for the record, neither did they). LOTS of cheese, little cornicione, and the underskirt had no char (see below). BTW, if you want to look like a crazy, take a picture of the bottom of your pizza. This pizza was more American than Neapolitan. Quite greasy and a relatively thick (and kind of soggy) crust. BUT, I was damn hungry and a little grease was probably good for me after the day's effort. I ate the whole thing and wanted more.
The underskirt of the Capriocciosa.
After I finished, I struck up a conversation with the pizzaiolo. I mentioned I was un pizzaiolo di Flagstaff, Arizona. He got really excited about this and continued to tell his family (who, with him, run the pizzeria). I asked if I could get a photo of the oven as I admired its construction. No no, "ls fotografia con Flagstaff pizzaiolo e nostro forno." I didn't argue with them.
"Flagstaff pizzaiolo e nostro forno."
I have so much more I plan to post in the next few days (hopefully), so stay tuned!


  1. loosely translated, the sign says: "all the really good pizza is now behind you."

  2. I was beginning to worry about our Flagstaff pizzaiolo...