First rule of driving in Sicily? There are no rules! ; 2nd rule – refer 1st rule
Fri 6 May to Sat 14 May 2011 Had a great overnight ferry trip from Naples to Catania, Sicily.
We had a cute little cabin with own shower and beds were very comfortable – it was like flying 1st or business class with a gentle rumbling of the ship’s engine. Not quite the Queen Mary experience.
Arrived in Catania, Sicily safe & sound. This is our first rental car experience – all good from collection & after little challenging start with our GPS we got out of Catania and on the open road to Agrigento, home of some of the world’s best preserved Greek ruins. If Robbo had been driving we’d never have been able to leave the city.
The rule here is you have to possess a passive aggressive style of driving and speed limits are merely a guideline NOT to be strictly adhered to.
The drive was “fast & furious” and Dave has done a stella job given it was driving manual and opposite side than in Australia….we can thank his Canadian heritage for the ease
with which he drives here. Also we need to thank Dave for loading our Garmin GPS with European cities as we’d never have got out of some of the little towns we entered the last few days.
The town’s street are @!#$ NARROW and locals don’t seem to care where they park or on what angle so it is a solid effort required to get around the obstacles. The tourist buses seem to take the whole road and you have to just pull over even if that means pinned to a guard rail as they drive by with millimeters to spare or just pull into the the side of the road. 1st stop Agrigento, Sicily
The Agrigento ancient Greek (circa 450BC) were amazing and we got there just before sunset so the colours with beautiful.
We did struggle today as we had no idea what to expect with hotels etc and arrived in San Leone to a ghost town, literally nothing was happening. We just took the first 4 star hotel that looked okay. We decided to then to be better prepared for our next stop.
It is revealing that when
you do not have your ‘routine’ that you feel uncomfortable to say the least. 2nd stop Siracusa, Sicily
We travelled from Agrigento to Siracusa to a beautiful rural resort, not withstanding the most spectacular ‘Steve McQueen’ escape driving piece by Dave….Picture this in reverse back up a steep hill as Dave ‘squeezed’ around parked cars in the narrowest street with millimeters to spare. Robbo screaming & adding no value – I have to do better in pressure as I was not helping poor old Dave. We could smell the burnt out clutch for several kilometres. Also there seemed to be never-ending winding roads that Dave has to navigate with reckless drivers who felt that driving in the middle of the road is okay.
Another highlight despite the driving was the beautiful scenery & extremes we saw – one minute hot,dry & sunny, the next 10 degrees cooler in the mountains and rain.
Coming through one town there was Saturday food markets so literally the famers had set up their tractors in the middle of the highway and locals picking up bulk vegetables and fruit. For example 10kg of potatoes was only 5 Euro and
beautiful eggplants, tomatoes and oranges were next to nothing.
The resort was beautiful and we enjoyed dinner incl. a whole sea bass cooked in salt – quite delicious, gorgeous Sicilian white wine & dessert of tiramisu ice cream & fresh ricotta cannoli.
Siracuasa township is beautiful full of more churches and ancient ruins and narrow cobblestone streets.
We visited on Sunday when all the locals came out to attend a religious parade full of fireworks, bands, tango dancing – really amazing to see. 3rd stop Taormina, Sicily
whilst the drive to this town from Siracuasa only took 1 hour on the motorway, the search for the actual hotel using the GPS took nearly 1.5 hours. The hotel which is gorgeous is set on the high cliffs overlooking the ocean but the winding streets you have to navigate to reach it were a test for poor Dave but once again he said ‘bring it’.
We got upgraded to a junior suite at the Hotel Monte Tauro – almost the size of a small apartment for a family of four. We suspect this will be last time we have a King Size bed until
Paris in July. Super modern fitout with our own private deck.
We chilled after the stressful drive in and headed off to dinner at a beautiful restaurant, silver service which was a nice change from restaurants we have been to date which are generally more casual café style. The cruise ships dock here so loads of people wandering around the beautiful shops and gelaterias. The speciality seems to marzipan fruit sweets and everything pistachio, including a pistachio pesto and of course it happens to be Dave’s favourite gelato flavour!!.
After the big day walking at Mt Etna - Refer SPECIAL EDITION POST, we took a 3+ hours walk to the little town of Castelmola – just beautiful – quite steep in sections on the way up & down (approx. 575m). We went off the beaten track and this little old lady came out offering us her home grown oranges (which were devine) plus offering us red wine (vini de rosso) and l’acqua minerale. She was a little character with a toothless smile.
Highly recommend Taormina for a stay in Sicily, by far the most beautiful spot we stayed at – lovely restaurants, walks, ocean, elegant shopping (although
only window for us as we can’t carry any excess), beautiful hotel options (either ultra modern to very old world style).
We found this beautiful beach on our last full day - it was gorgeous….see Dave taking a dip & views of the beach from the cliffs above.
Trip back to Catania to drop off hire car was interesting….1st the valet at hotel smacked the car into a gate (only cosmetic) then we had a booked a limousine service to airport….nice little gentleman who drove us in his Mercedes rock star van but he had a bingle with massive Mercedes E500. He was the professional, before he got into it with the other driver, he quickly asked us what time our flight was ……. Once it was clear that plenty of time, the animated discussion with other driver occurred mainly using arms & gestures and lots of bystanders getting involved to give their views on the accident scene All good though for us, we got to airport to catch flight to Roma. Ciao ciao xx
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