Our first castle

52 km, 4 hours

Castle Aragonese Main Tower
Castle Aragonese Main Tower

Our day today started off at a reasonable hour, but soon our schedule became derailed by an attempt to access the Internet at the hotel (painful) and a stop at the supermercado (grocery store).  Since we were in Le Castella (tr. “castles”) it seemed a shame not to go and see the island fortress which gives the town its name.  There is some archeological evidence of other small island fortresses along the coast, but only one survives.

On our way to the castle, we discovered many more hotels in town.  In hindsight, we should have come a little further down the road before stopping for the night. 

The castle turned out to be rather interesting. It was built sometime in the 1200s as a refuge for Aragonese soldiers.  At the time, Turkish vessels regularly attacked the shores of Italy.  (All this information is from a pamphlet describing the site).

We were impressed with how well they have restored the castle. We spent almost an hour tromping around checking out every nook and cranny that we were permitted to see. We needed to make the most of the 3 Euro entrance fee!

Becky is finding it hard to consider the idea that people inhabited castles in this region in the 1200s. Coming from North America, where European civilization is not that ancient, it is both interesting and difficult to fathom the age of the castles, towers, and even the streets. As we ride through the various towns, we can see the remnants of city walls that are easily greater than 500 years old. Today, houses are built right into them.

We thought about making a real lunch today, but did not stop until 3:15 pm. Then, we were not at an appropriate place to setup the stove, so we ended up continuing our ride to  Crotone. In the end, we ended up not stopping for lunch, and going out to a nice restaurant for supper. The food was very good except the secondi “Frittura Mista”, which turned out to be a selection of deep fried fish. One of the challenges when you have no idea what you are ordering, is that sometimes your choices are not the greatest! The Antipasti Caprese (fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella), Linguini  Alla Scolgio (linguini with shellfish in a wine sauce) and Garganelli Mediterranean (pasta with eggplant, roasted tomatoes in a tomato sauce) were all delicious though, so three out of four isn’t bad.
We are again in a hotel for the night.  Crotone is the capital of the province of Crotone within the region of Calabria, and is the largest city we’ve visited in Italy.  Unfortunately, with cities of this size, hotels are more expensive. We rode into town shortly after four o’clock, passing by many beach villages, camping villages and Agritourismi (farms which take guests and serve very good food).  Unfortunately, all were closed for the season.  We found several expensive hotels, but finally settled on the Hotel Tortelli. It was 70 Euros, and this for a very small room (albeit with a Queen bed) with a view of the adjacent apartment building.  At least it was close to the Lungomare, so we went for a nice walk along the beach.

Town of La Castella from the fortress
Town of La Castella from the fortress

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