Bikes, trains and ferries

June 27, 2014  |  The real thing

Day 13 – Pizzo to Catania (Sicily)

With 841 miles cycled we have made up the rest of our 1000 miles by transporting our cycles to Sicily in something akin to a military operation; although maybe not quite as slick.

I clearly recall my A level history teacher (Mr Griggs for those Waltonians reading this) telling us, although the details are hazy, that between the wars, when they were constructed, “the railways provided the stitching for the Italian boot”. I can still see him tapping his foot as he said it.

The Lonely Planet guide to cycling in Italy suggested something more complicated and indicated that not all trains let you on with bikes, that the bike car might be one end or the other, that the trains did not wait more than a minute in the station, and that if you were needed to persuade the train guards to let you on you would have a better chance if you were a girl- and cried. Ready to practice our best tears on demand, Christine and I have been almost disappointed that the last snippet of information has not been called in to use.

It’s not been easy though.

We pedalled 3 miles to Pizzo station where our final adventure began when we arrived at a very closed looking station, which had weeds growing through the train tracks. It doesn’t look like it’s been used in years.


Luckily there were 2 men playing cards who seemed to know what was going on and an electronic sign confirming our train was leaving about half an hour late. There was no information to direct us to a platform but it was clear that the middle line of the 3 is the only one that is used. We caused a nuisance getting on the train and completely blocking the entrance/exit, until the guard helped us manhandle the bikes in to a small compartment at the end.


The train took us to Rosarno, where we had to wait an hour due to missing our connection to the ferry terminal. It was kind of lucky because we had to sneakily cross the train track when the guard from our train (who had crossed it himself and then told us not to) wasn’t looking, to avoid a long flight of stairs.

So, train 2, this time with a bicycle car at each end, and we arrived at the edge of the sea once again, with Sicily in our midst.


We’ve crossed rivers and ravines but the solution for the sea was much simpler. A short ferry ride and we had made it to Sicily. Then for another train ride to Catania. And that’s it.

Venice to Sicily. An adventure that will stay in the memory long after the ridiculous cycling tan lines fade.

No doubt getting the bikes back home will provide it’s own challenge so I shall save a final post for when we return to Blighty and Basel.

But for now, we are on holiday. Mount Etna tomorrow, and the question remains: to ride or not to ride?


By Becci Johnson

Chief blogger and haribo coordinator.


  1. Congratulations and celebrations all round. Have a relaxing time now and enjoy. Hope the journey home goes well. We shall look forward to hearing all about it and seeing all those photographs!!!!

  2. I think we should have a blog from Etna. Well done for getting there.

  3. Well done guys & girls looked a like you had a gr8 experience,really enjoyed reading your daily blog becci,have a gr8 end to your trip in Sicily.your adventure has wetted my appetite for another tour!!

  4. Well done all of you. Sounds like it’s taken a lot of grit and determination to get to this point but the photos and description of the sights sound awesome and the food I’m very jealous of especially all the ice cream. What will I read now though is the big question?

  5. Jon (Spaggetti)

    Well done to you all especially Mark as I really didn’t think he was putting enough training coupled with far too many crisp breaks at work before the big adventure…

    Keep peddling you’ll regret it If you don’t go up Etna on wheels

    I’m inspired to do something similar one day, but this year I’ll settle for a week in Bruges with bikes, beer, buns and banter with my own bunch of Cyclepaths.