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Published: March 25th 2018
Sunday March 25, 2018 - Of course it’s hard to go to sleep early on a Saturday night, even when you’re just home preparing for your trip. And of course you haven’t finished preparing for your trip because somehow you never learn. So you find yourself still awake at 11pm, knowing you have to get up at 4am AND daylight savings time starts that night, taking away yet another precious hour. So of course you wake up at 3:30 and can’t go back to sleep. I was on the tram by 5:14, waited 15 minutes for the bus to the airport and hungrily devoured all of the “driving in Sicily” materials I could get my hands on before I left. I was moderately terrified of driving abroad, and here I was starting in Sicily. Crazypants.
I arrived to a cloudy day. I had to walk across a parking lot to the rental car office and wait for about 30 minutes for my turn. She tried to sell me loads of insurance, etc but I declined. But she did charge me 5 euros to come back with a dirty car, inside and out, instead of the 30 they would charge if
I came back with it dirty. Seriously, what kind of company does that? AND the car was dirty outside when I got it! I only drive in the states, and for no more than 4-5 weeks a year. This is my first time driving a manual car in at least 8 years, it started to rain, the GPS couldn’t find my exact destination...this was my biggest challenge yet. Crazy countries? No worries. Driving with Sicilians? Crying for my mommy.
Actually, so far I’ve just driven on highway and a few other roads, and it’s ok. Luckily the place I’m staying first is not downtown, so parking is easy. On the other hand, I will have to drive into town if I want to see anything.
Shortly after I arrived at Villa Magnolia B&B in Taormina, a thunderstorm started, lightning and all. So I stayed in for several hours, trying to use the weak internet to get some planning done, without much luck. Though it feels a little like cheating. Why be somewhere new if you’re not going to see it? But it’s cold and wet outside. And cold inside. The woman I’m staying with asked me if I
wanted a sandwich, which was great, since I hadn’t eaten in 8 hours. My own Sicilian grandma. I should have a lovely view of Mt. Etna, but it is somewhere behind the clouds.
Around 4pm I finally decided to get out and see what I could see. Not only did I have to drive to get into Taormina, I had to drive super steeply uphill and around many hairpin turns. It was a little bananas. Luckily there were not many cars and I could go slow. I got minimally lost and parked in the parking garage I’d been recommended. My Italian grandmother gave me a map and explained how to get where I was going. Without the GPS it never would have happened. I’m not sure I’ve ever parked in a parking garage before, but I did not care for that either. I had to go up a couple floors and I was nervous I would hit the wall as I went around in circles.
When I finally made it into town, I had to use my umbrella the whole time, and my camera lens got a bit wet at times, but overall it was ok. The rain
was not too heavy, and I still had some good views down to the water and in town. I even made it to the Greek Amphitheater, which I did not expect. I walked over, thinking it was closed, but when I asked, he said I had two minutes left to buy a ticket and 45 to check it out. I’m glad I made the choice to go. It was enough time in that weather, and it was another good ruin to see. Very different than the theater I saw in Tunisia. At the amphitheater, I ate a chocolate cannoli I had bought for dessert after dinner. When I looked in my bag it was already in two pieces so what choice did I have? Two hours in and I was paying the parking ticket and getting ready to get back to the B&B before dark.
There is a little town even further up called Castelmola, and I thought about going there before Taormina, and then decided to try afterwards. Bad choice. When I came out of the parking garage, I was pointed downhill and heading back down the hairpin turns. Nowhere to turn around until I got to the
bottom, and by then, I was not up for going back again.
There were tons of restaurants in Taormina, but at the B&B there was mention of a restaurant not so far from here, and it seemed great not to drive in the dark. I figured I could walk. I was wrong - I had to drive there. In the dark. It’s really not far, but there is no sidewalk and it’s too far to walk safely. The driving is hard because the streets are so narrow and uphill happens a lot. I had to turn off and drive uphill to the restaurant, and all the parking was just on the side of the road as you’re getting there. It meant having to get to the top, do a weird 5 point turn, and then park on the way back down. None of which is my strong point. I ordered the mountaineer pizza from their many page list of pizzas. It has spinach and mozzarella and ricotta. I cut it into squares like I did last month when I was in Italy. Chicago-style, not Italian, but what can I say? I’m a woman of the world.
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