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25 Mar 2010

What a great time Nic and I had and what a good decision it was to bin northern Europe.  Sicily lived up to so many Italian stereotypes and we discovered some more…  The pasta is a dream, what they do to packet pasta, I guess the rest of the world will never know, the icecream never disappointed but the driving, well, we’ve only India to compare that too.  Arriving in Palermo, the capital, to roundabouts and roads clogged with cars ignoring any concept of lane management, pointing in all different directions, with incessant beeping, was really something to behold.

San Vito beach

The beach at San Vito - strawberry and lemon icecream - and yes there is climbing on the thing at the back

We also discovered that the Italians definitely have a thing for stripy jumpers and one way systems.  So Nic was partly in heaven and partly not.  He’s now two new stripy numbers to add to his collection.

Palermo was our first stop.  The guide book suggested this was the most important climbing area on the island.  Well, it wasn’t all good but it did boast Bauso Rosso, which was our number one favourite and we could have done our whole holiday there.  Whilst for us non city fans Palermo is an amazing and buzzing city, it was simply too chaotic for us (mainly because of the driving).  What I like about good cities is when each turn surprises you.  Most British cities don’t really do this.  However Palermo offers great restaurants, lovely shops, many markets and plenty of culture.  We even saw the ballet Copellia at the Teatro Massimo to celebrate Nic's 40th birthday; a wonderful experience.

Bauso Rosso

The spectacular Bauso Rosso overlooking Palermo

Unfortunately our week in Palermo was accompanied by 10 degrees and torrential rain.  On the plus side climbing at the sun trap of Bauso Rosso was possible.

For the second week we moved to the most north westerly tip of San Vito Lo Capo for sun, sea and rock and our holiday really blossomed.  Much of the climbing is within 15 minutes drive of this small town, which hosts a beautiful beach with clear turquoise water.  The clouds shifted and sun beamed through.

Custonaci Tears of Freedom

Me onsighting the tremendous Tears of Freedom 7a+ at Custonaci 

We visited most crags in the area but it’s astounding how undeveloped it still is.  Salinella camping is a major area but hit and miss quality wise, but generally good.  Crown of Aragon is all you could want from a golden, overhanging, tufa world but screams out for more routes.  Never Sleeping Wall at Custonaci has recently had a number of new additions and offers 35 metre vertical tufa routes.  Then to contrast there is the shady Cattedrale nel Deserto, with ultra technical, vertical, tufa, crimpy style.  Not to mention the many long multi pitch routes in the area.

Crown of Aragon 7b

Matthias from the Tirol on the very cruxy La Ladra 7b at Crown of Aragon 

We certainly would return and with some further investigation I think this could be a great venue for a coaching holiday.  We’ll have to see.

So what did we climb?  Well that’s going to need another blog entry.  I’ll be back…

PS Just been to Tescos - our delli counters are a total embarassment compared to Italy.


Decision made

05 Mar 2010

On Monday Nic and I finally made our decision. Our number one choice was the south of France but various reports and emails showed a reoccurring theme of snow, rain and seeping crags. Our second choice was around Margalef in Spain, but again the weather doesn’t sound like what we’re looking for. On Sunday night our friends Steve and Kath came up with the brainwave of Sicily.

By the end of Monday we’d found a guide and booked flights, accommodation and car hire. We can’t wait. There’s lots of climbing established there already but it sounds like the area is still largely untapped. We’re heading to the north western part around Palermo, partly because that’s where one main climbing area is and partly because it was the only flight we could find to Sicily at this time of year!

I’m really hoping this is going to be a hit as Steve and I have been talking at length about a new destination for our holidays. On paper it’s really got the makings of a perfect holiday – we just need to go and see. Word on the street is 17 to 20 degrees, clear blue seas, great food and amazing things to see and do. I’ll report back.

Booking and buying things has been the general theme of this week and I’m glad it’s almost over. Monday also included a hellish time getting a new phone. On Tuesday I bought a lap top and on Wednesday I braved Meadowhall to buy birthday presents for my sister, Nic and Nic’s mum. And what with work and admin there hasn’t been much time to enjoy this fantastic change in the weather, so just two trips to the wall for me. Still I can’t complain with what’s coming up very soon.