I think I already mentioned that you need to be part mountain goat to navigate your way around Italy. Well, add to that, part pack mule. That’s how I felt trying to handle my luggage in the Napoli Airport. And this is after I left one large suitcase full of clothes and some books in Sorrento. (A teacher at the school is taking the clothes to a needy family.) Still, my load is too heavy. The word for nomad in Italian is “viaggiatriche”, pronounced via-jah-tree-chay, with the accent on “tree”. I guess I’m still a viaggiatriche-in- training.
The flight from Sorrento to Catania in Sicily was only 40 minutes. At the Catania airport, the rental car offices were not in the terminal, so I had to schlep my luggage about a quarter of a mile to the closest office. (I’m guessing that I was pulling about 75 pounds of luggage in two cases—a carry-on hooked onto a larger bag, as well as another 15 pounds in my bagful of electronics and other stuff.) Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep an internet connection the night before, so I wasn’t sure which car rental company my reservation was with. And, more unfortunately, the car rental buildings are not all in one place. The first one didn’t have my reservation, so I had to schlep my luggage to yet another building. There were about 8 rental companies in this building, so I had some reason to hope I wouldn’t have to schlep again. A woman who worked at one of the rental companies was SO nice. Her company didn’t have my reservation, so she checked with four other places and found the one who did. There are angels everywhere!
When I finished all the paperwork, I discovered that I had to schlep my luggage yet again to the back of the parking lot where several companies park their cars. I should mention that it’s still summer in Sicily, and it was very hot—maybe 85 degrees or so—so I’m sweating by now. I couldn’t find the car. It wasn’t parked in the area where the rental company signs were posted. And there was no one out there to ask for help. So I started looking down every row toward the back of the lot, because the rental guy clearly said it was at the back of the lot. I must have been out there for 30 minutes looking for the car, when finally, someone from the rental company came out with another customer, and he directed me to the car.
I had rented a car with a manual transmission because it costs a fortune to rent one with an automatic transmission. I haven’t driven a manual in a while, but things seemed to be going okay until I got lost. The road signage here is terrible. Half the signs are blocked by trees or overgrown bushes, and you can’t see the signs until you’re right on top of them. And they have lots of roundabouts, which I’ve never liked. Once I stopped for a red light, and the cars behind me started honking like crazy. Yet later, when I did the same thing, no problem.....very confusing. Anyway, my getting lost turned out great, because I ended up driving on the coast road, and even though that’s not where I was supposed to be, I saw some breathtaking views. After a few miles, I noticed a sign for the expressway I was supposed to take, so I left the coastal highway, with some regret, and got back to the path toward my apartment in Piedimonte Etneo. By some miracle, I found my way to the piazza where I was to meet my new landlord.
I’ve exchanged my sea view for a view of Mt. Etna….here's the view from my balcony at dusk.....
And in the morning…..
It’s very quiet here. The only noise I heard yesterday afternoon was the sound of children playing outside and….guess what, church bells again, but these don’t ring every 15 minutes, 24/7, like they did in the marina. They ring on the hour and half hour, and every once in a while they play a little song. I’m not sure when they start and end, but it’s wonderfully peaceful here, and the air smells really good. I picked up some groceries on the way here yesterday and ate the most delicious tomatoes I’ve ever had. Must be this lava soil. I’m very happy with my apartment. It’s more modern than the one I had in Sorrento, and the landlord is very gracious and accommodating. While I miss the vista of the sea, I’ll be visiting coastal towns and have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the seaside while I’m here. I’m only about 8 kilometers from the beach.
Today, I’m just relaxing, because I feel very lazy after working like a pack mule yesterday.