This is the story of Cristian, 36 years old, originally from Fano, who calls himself a citizen of the world with the ambition to find out everything, not as a tourist, but as a traveler.
“Last September I decided to tour Sicily on a bike, an activity that is quite achievable on a physical level – it’s not like I’m climbing Everest – but I will mention this particular detail: I started and completed the tour without a single EUR. Mine is, first of all, a promise made to my mom: before dying of cancer 3 years ago, I told her that she would continue to travel as she pleased, through my eyes. It is also a challenge to show that even today, when everyone speaks only of individualism, of a capitalist and selfish society, of mental closure and distrust of others, people are still able to welcome and share many things with those they meet, by sharing a simple smile and sharing the will to be together.
I, therefore, left Catania on the 20th of September 2019, accompanied by my bike, the basic model bought at Decathlon last year, loaded with fifty kilos of essential material for my ride: tent, mattress, sleeping bag, clothes reduced to essential (just one change, so to speak!), computer, GoPro, provisions for emergencies (specifically: 3 boxes of tuna, 3 packs of chickpeas, a pack of rice cakes).
It was not my first time: the year before I did a tour of Sardinia in the same conditions (the book that tells about this first adventure will be released at the end of June 2020, the proceeds will go totally to charity, so if you are curious … do not hesitate to buy it! ). By repeating the experience in another region, I had a yardstick, I could live the journey with my eyes and heart no longer so bewildered by everything. The tour of Sardinia was a real journey of discovery of the world and of myself, but I must say that the Sicilian experience enriched me even more, which I did not expect because it was still two islands in southern Italy and a challenge all in all already tested because I was no longer a beginner at an organizational level.
The Sicilian tour has left me stunned for another aspect of the challenge: even if my expectations of Sicily and its inhabitants were very high even before leaving, the Sicilian welcome and the beauty of the places exceeded my brightest hopes. From the castle of Cefalù to the seaside village of Marzamemi, from the pools of Venus of Milazzo to the Scala dei Turchi, from the cathedral of Syracuse to the Valley of the Temples of Agrigento, Sicily gave me its natural and cultural beauties. By traveling by bike you can appreciate the slow-paced landscapes, you can understand the differences in height not only with your eyes but above all with the effort of your calves, enjoy the shades of the sky and the sea in their full wonder, you stop for a dip as soon as a cove winks at you … Things that those who travel by car can hardly do! Sicily, however, is not made only of panoramas, sun, and beaches: the plus value of this island lies precisely in its inhabitants.
Everywhere, without exception, I found people were amazed by my quest, but not by any means wary, quite the opposite. Everyone tried to help me, by offering me a sandwich, a bottle of water, a pizza, by organizing a dinner with friends, by opening their house for the night, by even booking me a room in a b & b. My head and heart are full of the kindness of Irene who invited me suddenly to her birthday party in Trecastagni, of the boundless generosity of Luciano in Pachino who did not understand why he could not leave me 50 euros, of the contagious friendliness of Pietro in Trapani, the smiles of Cettina and Angelo, a wonderful couple from Messina: this tour has carved in my heart very particular geography, made of cities and places, but above all the people, all unique and extraordinary. Everyone was ready to carve out time to dedicate to me, a gift, that of dedicated time, which is priceless.
The challenges were not lacking either, but it is normal on a trip of this type: my late arrival in Licata, for example, did not allow me to find adequate accommodation and I had to set up the tent in a very squalid place where, unfortunately, I was soon visited by some street rats.
In Cefalù, someone cut the brakes of my bike while I was visiting the castle and I risked making a descent without return … but immediately after, while I was despairing in the square, I met by chance Giovanni who accompanied me to Mario, a very kind mechanic who it fixed my entire brake system.
These misfortunes cannot absolutely fade my fantastic memories of Sicily. In all honesty, the Sicilian welcome can be summed up with this single fact: in 26 days I slept only 6 nights in a tent. The people I met on the way, who competed to host me, hosting me at times for several days, with the desire to help me get to know their area, their family, their culture. Someone had already heard of me on social media or in newspapers (I have an incredible press review of articles written on this project of mine in Sicily), but many people approached me simply intrigued by my bike or my outfit (I must say that the GoPro attached to my helmet makes me look like Captain Ventosa). And all these people have always welcomed me with the typical smile of this wonderful island, that smile which is also my business card.
The extraordinary experiences and sensations were numerous in those days: the surreal sunrise over the Faraglioni di Acitrezza, the magical sunsets of the north coast, the body rafting at the Alcantara Gorges, as well as the trekking on the volcano organized by the dear Daniele, the meeting with the mayor of paradise who is San Vito Lo Capo, and many more that you will discover in my second book …
All these emotions, I keep in my heart and the moment that best captures them is my arrival in Piazza Duomo in Catania on October 16: after about 1200 km covered by bike, a welcoming committee was waiting for me, made up of friends I met on the tour who had arranged to meet to celebrate my arrival and of tourists intrigued by the banners, torches, and bottles of sparkling wine prepared in my honor. At that moment the warmth of Sicily became united with the love of my mother, who’s presence I felt there, and it made my heart explode with happiness.
Of all this, after months, what remains? So many friends, so many contacts, so much affection, so many memories, so many projects, but above all so much gratitude for Sicily and the Sicilians, place, and people out of the ordinary.
That’s why I can’t wait to go back and why I invite you with all my heart to visit this beautiful island to see how you feel about it … even though I have no doubt about the outcome!
Cristian Buzzelli FB IG Site Next release (June 2020): The tour of Sardinia without money