First posted December 9, 2012
This is my final post about driving in Sicily. I thought I would end with some of the pictures about driving that I hadn’t yet posted.
But before you go on to the pictures, I have to tell you about the blog post Blindness and Memory Loss While Driving on A Canadian in Italy by Eloradaphne. This is the quintessential ‘driving in Italy’ story. I encourage you to read it.
And on to the pictures…
This is the road to Capizzi, the tiny mountain village from which my husband’s family originated. If you could drive as the crow flies it would take about 20-30 minutes from the coast. However, this road is so full of switchbacks that it takes 2 hours.
We stayed with a friend in Piazza Armerina in 2010. Every evening this car was parked in this spot. We never got to see the right side of the car so I can’t say if it is scratched up or not – I suspect it must be. I was just so impressed that someone could park that close to a wall!
I loved this little truck. We saw it in Cefalu’ on one of the many narrow back streets. I don’t know how the vegie vendor could drive without losing the vegetables off the top!
I wrote earlier about the Ferrari night in Cianciana. This is such a great example of la bella figura or putting on the best face. There were about 20 or so Ferraris in Cianciana that night, all from Ribera, a nearby town. In the small town in which we live in Canada, I am sure there aren’t 20 Ferraris, 10 Ferraris – in fact I have never seen even one Ferrari! The unemployment rate in British Columbia is about 7% whereas the unemployment rate in Sicily is 25%, the highest in Italy. Logically, you would think that British Columbians would have more disposable income to buy race cars than Sicilians. I would guess that la bella figura plays a good part in the number of expensive sport cars that can be found in Ribera. (More on la bella figura later).
I included these two pictures of the main street in Cianciana. This is Salita Regina Elena. The top picture is in the mid-afternoon when most people are at home resting, sleeping, or watching television. The second picture is at night when people come out – at least in the summertime – and do the passagiata, visiting with all their friends and neighbours, sharing wine, beer, coffee, or a meal. Cianciana is a lively place to be in the summer at night!
This is Sant’Angelo Muxaro – an even smaller town than Cianciana. As you can see, Sant’Angelo Muxaro hangs on the edge of a cliff. Amazing that the buildings can cling there without sliding down the side of the cliff! Believe it or not, there is a road going up that cliff to the lovely, friendly little town at the top.
One thing I didn’t mention when I talked about the autostrada is the off ramps. In North America, off and on ramps are usually long, giving drivers lots of room to merge. In Italy on the autostrade, off and on ramps are very short – as in hold your breath and start to pray whenever you use one. To compensate for that, the name of the off ramp and large arrows are painted onto the highway so you are given good warning ahead of time. That is, if you realize what the names and arrows are telling you.
Sicily is full of mountains which means lots and lots of tunnels. I like the tunnels for a couple of reasons: one, they are interesting and plentiful, and two, they are good places to pass slower cars in front of you. The first time you drive through these tunnels you will understand the reason for the law insisting drivers turn on their lights on the autostrade.
So, to end this series, I have to say that driving in Sicily is ultimately do-able but you need to be prepared. I had no idea what I was facing before I headed out onto my first autostrada back in 2010 and I made lots of mistakes. But, keep a calm head and you will be fine. Best of luck…and you’re welcome!
Comments from the first posting:
when I go back to Italy and drive with my mum – I now notice how people don’t indicate left-write, they don’t respect traffic lights, they don’t stop for pedestrians at zebra-crossing etc. I mention this to my mum (she drives usually) and she answers “ah you’ve been away too long, road signs and signals? they are all optionals…” there you are, and this is the North of Italy, South is like Africa sometimes…
It has been years since I’ve been to Africa and I don’t remember the driving, although I can guess it is probably similar to Sicily. A couple of years ago, I was staying with a friend in Rome. He told me he had met a young Sicilian man who asked him what the painted lines on the roads are for! Now, all the autostrade have lines of course, but there are many, many roads that have never had lines painted on them! Can make for interesting driving!
Thanks for the link back Diane! I love your pictures – especially the first one with the curvy road. There are a couple roads like that going to hubby’s home town, and if he takes the curves too quickly I get all queasy!
No problem! Your story (which had me giggling – sorry to laugh at your difficulties!) was the perfect end to my series on driving in Sicily! I would love to go to Genoa – I was watching Two Greedy Italians (my favourite cooking show) last week and they were in Genoa. It looked beautiful!
Take care, and safe driving! 😉