Bagnara Calabra, Goodbye Sicily!March 17, 2017 in Italy ⋅
We set off at 10am, picked up some replacement parts for our ageing tandem, some groceries and drove for several hours to get to Porto di Tremestieri, from where we would catch the ferry back to the Italian mainland.
Arriving at the port we were separated from the lorries and told to wait in a corner with some other smaller vehicles. Three ferries departed, but we were still told to wait. We sat there frustrated while others that had been told to stay back sneeked on against the remonstrations of the official. Vicky eventually asked when we'd go on the ship and was told there were different companies operating. The fourth (Blu Line) ferry was ours, but when asked for our ticket we were told we should have had it stamped. Almost before we had time to think 'oh no', the officer whistled another employee over and instructed him to 'take this lady's ticket to the office and get it stamped!'. The employee zipped off on hos moped, beeping his horn to cries of 'veloce, veloce!' (fast, fast!). Sure enough, they got it sorted and we were juddering accross the Straits of Messina within 10 minutes, the boat hull flexing with the strain.
Church bells rang out a tune as the sun set over the Sicilian mountains, including the still smouldering Mount Etna. We felt sad to be leaving this amazing island. It isn't perfect by a long way, but we'd been lucky enough to see so many amazing natural sights and meet some wonderfully warm and generous people, that it will be remembered fondly!
As a final farewell, Sicily delivered a sensational treat, Will spotted some water exploding in the distance. We knew it was a tumultuous stretch of sea, so we thought it was waves crashing together until we looked closer and saw dolphins leaping high out of the sea before smashing back in with a splash! They played for a good ten minutes and may have continued for longer, but the ferry put distance between the group and us until we lost sight of them.
There was still an hour's difficult drive to do when we got off the ferry and we were both tired when we pulled up at the Bagnara Calabra free stopover, a car park beside a seafront artifical football field. We were beginning to relax after tea when there was a knock on the door. The person knocking asked if we were planning to stay the night, then told us it would be €15! We showed him the book that said it was a free stopover, but he insisted it was €15. There was water and an emptying point that the book hadn't mentioned so we suppose the charge may have come about when they installed these facilities. We handed over the money and he promised that the boat currently blocking access to the emptying point would be moved by the morning, but surprise surprise it wasn't.
Driving out of town the following morning, the route took us up the hill into a narrow grid of streets. A car was parked very awkwardly at the entrance to the crossroads at the end of one street. Vicky was able to squeeze past it, but the road ahead was a 'no entry' and when she started to turn, she caught the front wing of the car with the side of the van! Will managed to get the van out of the street by doing a three point turn while Vicky passed her details to some residents who had seen it happen and were sympathetic. Suffice to say we were happy to get out of this particular town and on the road!Read more