We left Ischia, took the ferry back to the mainland and drove South along to coast toward Sicily. We stopped for the night in the very small port town of Fiumicello – from Fumaroles as in volcanic fumes. During the night I looked at the map, trying to anticipate our arrival in Palermo on the 11th when the sculptures arrive by truck.
So far – everyone we have asked about getting anywhere have always said, “two minutes” in that great Italian America thing with a pinch of the fingers – but, it has been our experience that two and a half hours is usually six hours.
The “Autostrada” is the interstate highway here. The speed limit is usually 80 but sometimes 90kph. I have driven between 120 and 140kph to keep up with traffic. It seems the standard to drive right down the center divider line and not actually in a lane wherever you are going – and if you actually stay in a lane (silly me) you still have to be very careful when changing lanes. Every now and then, you see a car coming up on you from the rear at light speed, and then pass you on the left going like 200. There is no traffic enforcement, as we would know it. In and around towns, there are speed cameras, but that’s been it so far. There are accidents – which interestingly, we have seen only the evidence of. The road is narrowed to one lane by three round blue markers in the road, and then you see skid marks, debris, a smashed guardrail and bloodstains where someone bled out on the highway. Don’t really know how long they leave it like that, but it seems no one is in a hurry to clean it up. The “Autostrada” is where the Ducatti really takes advantage of the road – faster than anything we’ve seen so far. You have to watch out for them too. I have been driving a turbocharged diesel BMW this trip and it’s a real kick.
We raced through Calabria – a region in Southern Italy where Italians from every other region have warned us they hate all foreign visitors – and further, that they are always “killing each other” (expressed in that same Italian America voice thing but with a hand gesture fashioned as a pistol). By early afternoon we’d made our way to the narrow passage between the mainland of Italy and it’s well known “Mob” island. A short ferry ride across took us to our last work related geographic destination, the island of Sicily. We are staying in Taormina, a small town just across channel and at the foot of Mt. Etna. Our room overlooks the bay. Mt. Etna is billowing smoke. And tonight, I had a choice of sea urchin spaghetti or red tuna(both locally caught). I chose the latter – rolled in sesame seeds and ground sea salt – which was just about the best I’ve ever had.
Tomorrow, we will drive inland to the Roman and Greek ruins here as we make our way West toward Palermo.