Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Murphy's guide to Sicily.

So, in answer to the question posed at the end of the previous post, would escape to Sicily release us from the curse of Murphy's law? Well, not quite. Tyres fixed, a little after midday we were toddling down the last few kilometres towards the toe of Italy. The scenery was spectacular, and as the straights of Messina came into view, the sight of the mountains of Sicily wreathed in cloud was a stirring sight. The crossing was simple, tickets easy to buy at the terminal, and at €52 not too expensive. We even spotted a small whirlpool half way across, which got me all excited as the straights are the legendary location of Charybdis, the fearsome swirl feared by Odysseus and his crew.

Sicily!

Mr Berlosconi's promised bridge newer quite happened.


The ferry crossing takes about half an hour

blog time!
Actually the real fearsome swirl these days is the Messina rush hour. We arrived at 2pm. as everyone was driving back to work after lunch. It was mayhem. Luckily I've driven in Italy quite a bit now, so the chaos does not spook me anymore. In fact being in a large vehicle like a motorhome makes it easier as car and scooter drivers treat you as an obstacle rather than competition. Nevertheless, the moment when Messina University students piled out into the urban motorway slip road flooding the ramp with jay-walking sociologists will remain with me for a long times as a treasured 'Italian moment'.

Simultaneous people and traffic jam.

the pedestrians triumphed
Our plan, as ever, was simple, and of course doomed to be stymied. It should have been straightforward, drive to Milazzo, find Parking Della Isola , book in for two nights, and hop on the boat to Lipari tomorrow. This is what every blogger we have read has done, most of them extolling the delights of the trip and the ease of organising it. We too went to Milazzo, we too found Parking Della Isole. However, we found it shut, padlocked even, though the sign outside, its website, every guidebook we have about camping and travelling in Sicily, everything claims it is open all year.

Phoning the place raised someone who could not speak any English and hung up on us. While Gill explored on foot, I parked in front of a Peschiera, only to become embroiled in a chaotic situation involving a 40 ton truck carrying fish, an Italian woman who was unable to reverse and a fork lift truck driver who clearly was a big fan of Lewis Hamilton. We moved to a small layby next to some overflowing skips. It was approaching late afternoon by now, and once again we were in danger of becoming, as a Victorian novelist might put it - benighted. 

Sensing our predicament, a helpful young chap in a snazzy car drew up and suggested some places, these were nearby, but when we passed them they were designed as secure parking for cars and had height barriers. Getting a little desperate, we phoned a campsite 40km away at Falcone, listed in the ACSI book as open until 31st December, you've guessed it, Gill phoned, to be advised that it was closed. This was becoming very annoying. Finally, a phone call to Area Trinacaria at Terme Vigliatore came up trumps, the owner was waiting for us at the gate, as once more we appeared out of the twilight gloom. Really the place is no more than a field next to the beach with a few primitive facilities. I don't really feel anymore secure parked here as on the beachside car park across the road. We have hook-up though, so watched another episode of Borgen, phoned Matthew, and went to bed.

Splendid isolation


and somewhat strange sanitary arrangements.
Right now I am feeling that I need a few days of being a softy Walter tourist and less of the intrepid traveller. Still, we will have a go again at finding somewhere to park for the day in Milazzo and visit Lipari; we can always come back here to sleep tonight, despite all its limitations and lack of security.

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