Friday, November 11th, 2011

OK, not really Taormina. I had planned to stay the next night at Acireale but didn’t really find it very interesting so continued on north. But first a little about leaving Agrigento. My hotel in Agrigento was on one of the tiny little streets. As I was leaving the guy said “ take a left at the first street”. OK. Well, the first street to the left was REALLY tiny and went down at an alarming angle. Not only that, it was a hard left turn. I decided to take my chances on continuing straight ahead. Of course there were cars parked even in this narrow street which left inches on either side to pass. At one point it was so tight that the right side mirror bumped into something and folded back against the car – no harm done but I was holding my breath. Finally I came to the way down. Steep but not TOO narrow but with a hairpin turn where I had to back up to complete the turn. After that I was able to breath again and had no trouble finding the road in the direction of Catania. I went through a bunch of little towns and some not so small. I was glad when I could take the road inland away from it all. Note: if you want to explore the centro storicos in Italy rent the smallest car that you can tolerate! If I’d been in my Audi A4, not a particularly big car, I’d probably still be stuck in that road in Agrigento with a lot of really pissed off Sicilians behind me,

So I was on the principle road to Catania when I was passed by a Carabinieri car (Alfa-Romeo) that seemed in quite a hurry. A few kilometers up the road the car was sideways blocking the road and all of the traffic was directed to another road. Whatever. Not a bad detour as it turns out. I wound up heading toward Catania again in a valley absolutely filled with orange trees. The air was filled with the fragrance of oranges. This went on for miles eventually replaced with fields of artichokes and olive trees. Ah – I almost forgot there are lots and lots of huge prickly pear cacti around full of fruit which is widely sold there. Unfortunately (I think) I didn’t sample any. It was really hard to take pictures because the roads rarely have shoulders and pullouts for scenic views basically do not exist.

I finally reached the autostrada and went on to the Acireale and after checking it out, took a secondary road to Taormina. Well, as I said, not quite Taormina. I did drive up to Taormina just to get an idea of what it was like. It is really quite something but I knew that most of the hotels were breathtakingly expensive and decided to backtrack to the nice looking place that I’d just passed through. So I spent the night in Giardini Naxos. It’s really a nice place right on the ocean. I found a cozy B&B for 30 euros a night and have a recommendation from the owner for what he says is an excellent restaurant. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but have the feeling that he wouldn’t give me a bum steer. Since there is no internet access here (note to self – don’t toss that Internet Key prematurely the next time!) I found a place where I could get web access. The major reason was that I was a little concerned about my reentry into Palermo after my last experience. It seems reasonably straightforward and I made meticulous notes about the route. Again, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Update: The dinner was great. I was disappointed that the restaurant didn’t have seafood but they had an mixed plate of appetizers with much of it Sicilian. The Eggplant Parmigiana part was obviously not Sicilian but was better than anything similar that I had ever tasted. I had a brief discussion with the waiter (and maybe also the owner) about the BIG news that Berlusconi had lost his majority in the parliament and was finished as premier of Italy.

I didn’t get many good pictures because it was raining a lot that day but at least here are two.

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