Mt Etna, early morning.
We wake to clear blue skies and views of a smoking Mt Etna spoilt only by a power pole and cables. Life cannot be perfect all the time. We enjoy the momentary view because it doesn’t take long for the cloud to cover the summit.
Once again it is a slow start. It doesn’t take long to pack our meagre possessions and depart. The narrow streets have recently been resealed. That takes pot hole dodging out of the equation. Early morning traffic is just as manic. In a peculiar way it is an experience we wouldn’t miss. If we didn’t like it there is always the autostrada somewhere above the towns. We wonder if Donald and Melania will come this way.
We discover a reasonably new shopping centre so make a detour for some provisions. We enter the large underground car park and take the travelator to the first floor. Everything is so modern with several named shops. The supermarket is well stocked and so are we. On leaving we found our Italian mobile phone provider. It is about now we realize having some data on the phone for Google Maps might be a good idea. With some difficulty
Before the traffic got really bad.
we converse with the very patient young woman and buy some gigabytes. After that experience time for coffee and some wicked treats.
It doesn’t take long to reach the sprawling city of Catania. Arriving in these Italian cities at the start of lunch is not a good idea. Everyone needs to get home for their midday meal, sleep, and be back at work by mid afternoon. We crawl down a two lane street to a roundabout which becomes about four lanes wide. It could have been wider had it not been for kerb on one side and parked cars on the other. Traffic tried to merge, cross, or pass. Absolute mayhem. Our warning lights for front and rear imminent collisions were constantly beeping. Soon four lanes became one. Traffic squeezed in from the right, some tried to make a second lane, then the next roundabout appeared. Repeat chaos. As we exited the roundabout under an overhead bridge here were two workman busy repaving a wall with half the lanes blocked off. They should have packed up early and gone home for lunch. Once past this bottle neck traffic flowed freely at its speeding best. This 800 metre journey had
taken an hour. It was interesting to see the best and worst of Italian driving patience. Amazing there were no bumps even with gaps between cars only paper thin. Why they would do this day after day we do not know.
Out in the country we programme the GPS to take us through the scenic route over a winding mountainous road. The scenery is wild and rocky. Now and then we glimpse briar rose and valerian, something we are familiar with back home.
As we approach Modica we make contact with our host. We are able to understand each other and he is looking forward to our arrival. At this point we have some concerns. The GPS won’t accept the street name we are trying to type in, so we try the co-ordinates. For some reason we have had trouble getting all the digits into their rightful place. We resort to our new found friend – Google Maps. They cannot help either. Only one other method – gut instinct. After annoying the driving population for about half an hour we finally found the road we needed. We turned right instead of left. Realizing our mistake we retraced our steps and there waiting for us was our hostess. Relief all round. We were shown through our house for the next four nights. The house is amongst a collection of family owned homes in the country. Our welcome includes a coffee and much talking in Italian. Obviously we are waiting for the Don. He arrives, takes our passport details, we hand over the money and shake hands. We’ll sleep easy tonight.
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