Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Giro 2018 Stage 4 Catania to Caltagirone

Where are we?
Catania is the second largest city in Sicily and one of the ten biggest city in Italy as a whole. Lonely Planet tells me that: Catania’s historic core is a Unesco-listed wonder, where black-and-white palazzi tower over sweeping baroque piazzas. One minute you’re scanning the skyline from a dizzying dome, the next contemporary art in an 18th-century convent. Beneath it all are the ancient ruins of a town with over 2700 candles on its birthday cake. Indeed, food is another local forte. This is the home of Sicily's iconic pasta alla Norma and the extraordinary La Pescheria market.
Giro regional specialties: Arancini (rice balls); Pasta alla Norma (with aubergines); horsemeat specialties, cipollata (bacon-wrapped scallions); fish delicacies; cannoli.

Caltagirone:  The Giro site tells me that Caltagirone is situated on three hills that connect the Erei mountains to the Iblei mountains. Its name in Arabic means “vase hill” to remind people of the thousand-year-old tradition of pottery production which is possible thanks to the big ravines that surround the town and from which the raw material is extracted. The pottery is a constant all over the town, starting from the Scala of Santa Maria del Monte, the town symbol, 142 steps decorated with beautiful majolica. The town center, rich with artistic jewels, Unesco World Heritage Site since 2002, combine medieval features with Renaissance and late Baroque monuments.
Giro regional specialties: Maccu verde (fresh broad bean soup), Cassatedde, Sicilian cannoli, cubaita (soft nougat), giuggiulena (honey and sesame seed toffee).

The stage: Very winding stage full of difficulties with undulating stretches in the hills of Southern Sicily. Two categorised climbs, but many more ascents, including the final climb heading for upper Caltagirone. The course runs across the town centre skirting famous places such as the stairs Santa Maria del Monte covered with colourful tin-glazed ceramics 

The stage:  
The break of the day:


Sixty five kilometers to go and the gap was about 2:30. They were in no hurry to catch them again today, as the finish should be tough.
Lovely day:


 Thirty five kilometers to go and the gap was just under two minutes.

Thirty kilometers left and there were only three left out front. Twenty kilometers to go and that gap was under one minute. Ahead:

Soon enough, the break was over. Poor Goncalves with a tragic opera of a bike change or two or three. Yikes.
And here came the attacks. Zardini and Conti the first to give it a go. Ten kilometers to go and they had a small gap. Nine kilometers and Conti left Zardini behind and had a 22 second gap.
Chute in the peloton behind, with the favorites not involved, but a lot of riders were slowed. Five kilometers to go and that remaining bunch was about to catch Conti, who was clinging to eight seconds. Yikes, Shachmann right off the road. This is really hectic.
Wellens! Perfectly positioned in the final kilometer and he came through for the win. Great ride by Rohan Dennis to finish towards the front.
Important note:




Wine: Marco de Bartoli Lucido from Dig Regional grape alert! Lucido is made with 100% Catarratto grapes (the white grape more cultivated in  Sicily), and exactly with its clone called Catarratto bianco lucido, fresher and more delicate compared to the common variety, that displays the typical bitter aftertaste.
The name “lucido” or “extra-lucido” (shining) comes from the polished appeareance of the skins, lacking some pruina, the whitish coating found on the skins that give grapes a velvety touch, modifying the cluster’s appeareance.
3,500 vines per hectare originally planted in the first years of 2000 and trained with the single Guyot system. The yields are of 8 tons per hectare, harvested during the second week of September. After the cooling and a careful manual selection, the clusters are gently pressed. The limpid run starts fermenting with wild yeasts, at controlled temperature, in stainless steel tanks, and with a minimum addition of sulfites. 7 months in stainless steel tanks, on its own lees.



I say: Fruity, lemon zest with plenty of minerals. Light, fresh

Food: The local tourist website provides this recipe:
Pasta alla norma
ingredients (serves 4)
For the sauce:
40 ml. extra virgin olive oil, 1 chopped garlic
clove, 600 ml. tomato purรฉe, salt and pepper to season,
plenty of basil leaves.
For the Frying:
300 ml. frying olive oil,
2 sliced aubergines (previously salted and rinsed).
Cheese to sprinkle on top: salted ricotta cheese.
Brown the chopped garlic clove, add the tomato purรฉe, season with salt and pepper and simmer. Flavour with fresh basil leaves.
Fry the aubergines.
Cook pasta, drain and toss with the tomato purรฉe and the sliced aubergines. Sprinkle with abundant salted ricotta cheese and serve.

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