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“Sicily to Rome” 2011 (RTS1102) – DAY4

Sunday, May 15, 2011 | Manuel Marabese | Europe

Today is our first "rest day". Well... it ended up in being more active than a normal day. To make it short: highlight n.1 "The double Etna ascend", highlight n.2 "The Ducati's lost key".

But let's start with some chronological order: sunrays over the breakfast terrace...

A happy van sleeping with a great view...

And then it is time to ride the great curves of Etna Nord towards Piano Provenzano... forest and lava field with the smoky crater on the back... Then back down towards Zafferana, then up again on Etna Sud towards Rifugio Sapienza, about 2000m high.

After a nice surge of adrenalin thanks to the nearly empty (well... except for few buses taking too much space on the other side...) road on Etna we start our way back home passing through the very tiny cobble stone streets of Castiglione, parking the bikes in one of the smallest and prettiest main square of Sicily:

The most entertaining part hasn't  come yet: everything happens in the terrific "Labirinth of Graniti". Sicilian city planning is often tricky: houses built in every single slot available, roads to circumnavigate them designed by a drunken Picasso and lots, lots of ultra-steep micro-streets. If this is not enough, from time to time they suddenly close one of these streets (most of the time one way roads not wider than a tiny Fiat), forcing you to go back. Back means reverse... uphill 20%, on a motorbike - and no, it is not a Goldwing, sadly.

This is exactly what happened to me. Stuck. Impossible to squeeze a fat BMW1200RT into 40cm of available room between the wall and a parked car. Brilliant. I give a shout to the group to stop immediately before everyone follow me into the hell and as great buddies they all come to rescue me. 6 men are needed to push me back a couple of meters, enough to turn the front wheel and ride back. Fiuuuu...

And what happens now? Why the black Multistrada in missing after the first crossroad check? I ride back... I find him, hopeless at least as I was few moments before. He lost the key while he was riding, somewhere in the last 30km. How is this possible, you might think? Well, the technological Multi has a radio key with a microchip so you don't stick it anywere but in your safe pocket. If the pocket opens, goodbye key.

The rest of the afternoon is epic. Back to Castiglione for 30km trying to find the key on the tiny square. No key. Back towards the Labirinth at extra slow speed checking between the bushes and on sidewalks (30km of road...). Up again, back down. No key. Luckily we have a spare key in the van, 30km away in the other direction (it could have been worse...). But the spare key is the "passive key" and it took us another hour to force it to work: it has to be hidden in a special place in order to start the engine.. and this place is different than that one mentioned on the Ducati instructions... Eventually, we brought the bike back to sleep...

Amazing rest day!

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