28 March 2013

To the Sicilians: driving directions

We had a good atlas and an iPad but, occasionally, that's just not enough, especially after dark. We were headed from Noto to the Acis (Aci Castello, Acitrezza, Acireale), hoping to skirt Catania, Sicily's second-largest city. It was just dark and we were aiming for what we thought was a sort of inner belt around the North side of Catania. What we were on was a crowded, busy city street. We stopped at a darkened auto repair shop because there was an older guy and a couple younger guys out front. Our skimpy Italian meet their skimpier English. We said "Aci Castello" and the older guy said "diritto" (direct, as in not right or left) and "no Lungomare." So, here's to the guy that got us out to the coast so we could go a bit North to Aci Castello.
This picture is what greeted us in the morning's light. More pictures here.

From Aci Castello, we went to Acireale and then up to Etna, trying vainly to get stuck in the snow and slush. We made it out and went on to Randazzo for the night. Randazzo is described in one of our guidebooks as "dangerously close" to Mount Etna.

The next day, we drove from Randazzo across the northern edge of the Etna park and down to Taormina, then back into the mountains to Mojo Alcantara to head North to the northern coast of Sicily. Just after Mojo Alcantara, the route suggested on the iPad turned weird and we couldn't find the connection between this and that road. We went back a few kilometers to Mojo Alcantara, finding the Municipio (town offices). The door was open and I found a grizzled fellow with an unlit cigar stub in his mouth. Again, map in hand, we had a conversation of pidgin Italian and English, with gestures, and we got on our way again. Later, looking at the map, I figured out what the iPad had probably been trying to communicate but we got up through the mountains with his help and that of a barkeeper in the high Nebrodis. Here's to the town official in Mojo Alcantara.

When we got down to the northern coast at Patti, we figured we'd take the autostrada to Capo d'Orlando for the night. Again, it was now after dark. I was trying to follow the signs to the autostrada in the direction of Palermo but turned into the first road after the sign and it was a dead end street down to a small garbage processing plant. A man and a woman were standing next to a car. We talked/gestured and they indicated follow us. We weren't far off and he got out of their car to bid us good travels after they led us to the on-ramp to the autostrada. Here's to them.

If you click on the "here" under the picture, you'll get to the Aci Castello pictures. From my Flickr photostream, you can search on other places. I know Etna, Acireale, and Randazzo will get results in my photostream.

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