We made a fairly leisurely start this morning to make sure we did not hit rush hour in Messina for our ferry trip. We walked the dogs down to the beach for a run around and I finally got to try the local Granita and brioche roll which is a local speciality for breakfast. I have tried to find it in a few places and failed, but finally found it in a beachside cafe in Giardini Naxos. We rarely eat breakfast out but today we had our espressos beach side. I had the pistachio granita, it’s somewhere between a sorbet and an ice cream, a slightly odd combination with a sweet brioche roll, but it sort of works. It was nice to finally try it, I do enjoy a sweet breakfast, but it’s definitely not something I would want to have every day.
My BBC news app did inform me that we were here in Sicily for a moment of local history. I understand that Sicilian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro was arrested today after more than 30 years on the run. I understand he was receiving treatment at a clinic in Palermo under an alias when he was arrested. Amazing after being on the run so long he was still on the island and in Palermo. He is accused of the 1992 murders of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two judges who were prosecuting the mafia and were executed via car bombs to stop them. This blatant violence lead to public outrage and protests which finally helped to put an end to mafia control.
We set off for Messina, like most motorhomers, taking the E45 dual carriageway to Messina. This is a toll road but it was worth the €2.80 not to squeeze and queue through a succession of seaside towns. We expected it to be fairly clear signage to the ferry from the main road. Messina being mostly about catching ferries to the mainland. However, there was about 6 options for different ferry companies and freight / non-freight options with different junctions, on one rather baffling sign, all in Italian, which was more than I could attempt at translating in one go whilst passing at speed. We ended up coming off a junction too soon and then had a complex task to get back to where we needed to be, as we were not on the normal expected route, signage was sparse and conflicting.
However we did eventually make it to the embarkation lines and I had pre-booked the tickets online. Boarding was relatively simple therefore, after having navigated through Messina. We steered clear of the Romanian coach driver with trailer who was taking no prisoners and cut up several cars using size and willpower as the lanes merged whilst inexplicably some traffic was waiting and some not.
The 25 minute ferry journey was a breeze. The water was millpond-like and before we knew it we were docking in Villa San Giovanni. The port town was pretty ugly despite the pretty name and we joined the flow of traffic to the main road north out of town.
After our unexpected longer stay on Sardinia, we are having to make more of a highlights tour of Italy. We were not long off the ferry heading north, than we saw big rainbows and black clouds which suggested that might a briefer tour in January may not be such a bad thing. We do plan to visit some very popular sights though and it will be good to see them in January when the crowds are as small as possible. We just might have to put on our big coats 😂
The ‘toe’ and I suppose the ‘ankle’ of Italy started with a long sandy beach along the west coast running parallel to our route. However, all of the camp spot reviews along this coast talk of it being full of litter, so we had already decided to skip through. Further north, we entered the hills, which I had not really expected so far south in Italy. There were several pretty hilltop villages visible as we entered and emerged out of tunnels heading north. Something to explore another time.
Tonight we picked a spot inland, visiting a pretty little hilltop village with a Norman castle on top and a free motorhome sosta. We arrive just as it got dark and the rain started pouring so we may not get to explore this evening.