Across the Straits of Messina to Sicily

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April 6th 2013
Published: April 7th 2013
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Ono Sicily

Todays gelato flavour - GMB and GLB :Amarano(Cherry)Delicious with real pieces of cherries in it

What an absolute cracker of a day dawned this morning and although our room faces east the sun took a while to rise enough to shine brightly into the room.

There was still a haze out to sea so the islands off the coast which include Vulcano,an active volcanoe on which people live and you can also stay at various hotels.However overhead was a beautifully fine sky,and it looks like today will be the best one weather wise that we have had since arriving last week in Italy.

Showering looked like it was going to be a challenge this morning so Gretchen went first to suss how best to handle it.She emerged suggesting I would have fun in there but not really describing what I could expect.

The shower was set over a tray about 2 inches deep with a plastic curtain(these are always fun to keep off your body when the air warms up from the shower running)that ran around the two sides that weren't solid wall.The taps stuck out from the wall about 6 inches so there wasn't much room to move or turn around in the shower tray without hitting the taps or pushing the curtain outside the tray thereby having water dripping onto the floor.And with the Italian drainage system being very slow to drain water away the level of water in the shower built up the longer you stayed in the shower with the water running.All of this led me to think that it wouldn't be too long before water would be flowing under the door and out to Gretchen in the bedroom area.However in the end none of this occurred and I got through my shower without too much flooding.

This morning we christened the toaster and after two pieces of bread successfully toasted the thing gave up and would do any more.Is this the end of our el cheapo toaster?We thought that two pieces of toast would have to do us(Italian bread slices are about half the size we are used to back in NZ).The instructions said something about leaving time between each toasting of bread so perhaps we were too hasty in toasting more bread.Now we might be looking for another Auchan supermarket to take the thing back if it doesn't work next time out of the box which won't be for a few days as we have breakfast with our accommodation for the next 5 nights.

With nothing in English on TV, we had Jim Sutton on Newstalk ZB to keep us company while we had breakfast.

Our stay had been a comfortable enough one although the room is a lot smaller than what we have had since the BBA V2 journey started and now it was time to hit the road and head for a ferry to take across to Sicily.

By mutual agreement we will keep the diesel tank topped up to at least half and beyond and so we pulled into the Agip petrol station in Briatico to top up.

What we must remember is that you pay upwards of an extra 5c a litre to have someone pump the diesel for you and all this will add up for the BBA V2 if we don't learn and remember to do this for ourselves.

We have seen a lot of Nissan March vehicles in Italy as we driven and walked around and they have been of the same model as I drive back home including the same dark green colour.And this morning as we pulled out onto the main road from the service station another dark green March went by!

The drive towards Villa San Giovanni,where we would catch the ferry to Sicily,at first took us up into the hills heading south east through a number of small hillside rural villages surrounded by olive tree orchards.We reached about 550 metres before we drooped down to a valley and the SS18 which took a more southerly direction.The traffic was light and we spent more time watching out for where the road surface was a bit rough than worrying about opposing traffic cutting corners as can happen on the rural winding roads.

As we arrived in the valley and passed through the town of Rosarno we began to notice HUGE piles of rubbish.Every so often there were a line of sizeable rubbish skips like everywhere else we have seem.Hpwever in this town and more further on the skips were not only full to overflowing but there were mounds of rubbish bags strewn along the roadside around them.This situation looked liked it had been going on for sometime so perhaps there was a rubbish collectors strike on.Whatever the situation was it is hard to understand that people living in the apartment blocks adjacent to the piles would just let them grow seemingly by the day.It must be unhygienic with rats and all sorts of nasties going on in the festering rubbish.

Another noticeable feature in and around Rosarno where the large number of African men riding bicycles.All the Itlians seemed to be in cars for their transport so perhaps these immigrants,who probably arrived into Italy illegally via North Africa which is not that far away,cannot have driving licences.The bikes were not your flash looking ones for sale in the cycle stores we have seen rather bikes with heavy frames and withour any gearing.

The road then headed away from the valley back towards the coast and eventually we got our first view of Sicily from a vantage point high above the hillside town of Bagnara Calabra where we also spotted a magnificent looking viaduct that the main A3 road travelled across.It stood majestically above a deep and fairly wide ravine.What it must have taken to build this grand structure!

We wound our way down the hill through several more small villages doing hairpin turns every few hundred metres until we reached the seaside where we caught up with a sizeable motor home.How that got around some of the corners must have been interesting.

Our arrival into Villa San Giovanni was a bit confusing as with many places from where ferries leave from you have to get to marshalling yards usually by looping around and it was no different here.All of a sudden there was a man waving at us to go in a certain directionand he guided us to the ticket office where e paid our €75 for the return crossing of the 2km strait.It must be the most expensive piece of water to cross in the world at a rate of €2 for every minute we would be on the water or €18 per km!

Obviously he ferry companies,and there were several,have a captive market as the bridge across the narrow strait still waits to be built after being on the books for years.If a bridge is ever built it will have to be high enough in some part to allow the large container ships that pass through.

There were only two articulated trucks and a mini bus on the ferry we were on and we were soon on our way to Sicily.

It has been an ambition of mine to see Sicily since Marlon Brando bought the Godfather and the Mafia to the attention of moviegoers.We have the movie in our supply of DVD's o watch and it will get a screening at some stage over the next 10 days we plan to be on the island.Since reading more about Sicily we have come to realise that it has many historical sites and a history that in many ways is different from the mainland having been governed by a number of different cultures over the years.So what we have ahead should be a treat and different to what we have explored on the mainland.

The trip across the strait is just 20 minutes and before we knew it the roll on roll off gangway was being lowered and we joined the traffic confusion of Messina.

After our attempt to leave Naples without traffic hassle not working out we allowed Victoria to take us on a toll road if she had to so that we got the easiest start to the drive to our overnight stop in Giardini-Naxos(things sound a bit Greek in this place name).

It worked well and within 10 minutes of going for the gap several times on the local streets of Messina we joined the A18 and headed down the easier coast of Sicily for the relatively short run to our destination.

Being on the autostrade you do miss the local towns so we came off after a drive of about 20 minutes and took a stop for a walk along a seaside promenade which gave us views back to the toe of Italy.

By now it was siesta time and the shops in the main were closed although we did find a bar/café/gelateria and partook in the daily gelato.As we entered a patron,who could tell we weren't locals greeted us with 'sprechan deutsche'.Do we look German?No,and I pointed to the NZ silver fern on my black shirt,we were Kiwis.remember we drew with you in the last World Cup 1-1 and actually led for a good part of the first half before you drew level with a dubious penalty.We don't think he really understood and with that he left us to eat our ice creams which we did in a very civilised way sitting at the table provided and glancing through the local newspaper trying to make out what the headlines in Italian were saying.

Driving between 12.30 and 4.30 becomes so much quieter as much of the population take a nap and we were soon in Giardine-Naxos after passing through the amazing coastal/hillside town of Taorima with house perched on cliff sides in places you would have thought impossible to build.As we rounded a corner there was Mt Etna with plumes of smoke or steam coming from its crater and covered in snow about a third of the ways down it slopes.

The GPS would not take the street number of the B&B we were to stay at and for an hour we couldn't find the place.Trip Advisor comments from people had warned us and it was only after a taxi driver confirmed the B&B was in the area we had already been to that we found the place when we got out of the car and walked the streets.We should have realised this from our last trip 4 years ago as it was often the way we would actually find our accommodations.

We took a walk for a couple of hours around the streets of the town taking in the sights and keeping an eye on Mt Etna towering above the town.The hosts had said to us that an eruption was not due after activity last month.We are so close to the mountain that it would seem impossible to miss any activity that took place.

Dinner of crumbed fish fillets and another very good wine,this time Sicilian at €1.50,brought another interesting day to a close.

Just one more thing before we close today.We have now stayed in 6 different hotels/accommodations and not one has had the toilet seat in the toilet attached fully to the bowl.We know that the BBA V2 and our accommodation Euros only go so far and the best we have had so far has been a 3 star but a missing screw here and there would be so easy to fix despite what star the accommodation is!A handyman following us would be starting to make some good money.We shall see if the wobbly toilet seats continue.

Distance travelled today : 156km

Distance travelled since Tauranga : 19,572km


10th April 2013

Maybe it was your German Tourist sandals that confused the gelateria man? And why arent you using Serena...she might be more reliable?

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