Sat 23/24 Sept
coast to messina....coastal highway extraordinaire
23 sept ...amalfi coast
are up early and starting driving towards the bay of naples and the amalfi
coast. the amalfi coast is a stretch of coastline on the southern side of
the sorrentine peninsula and is known for its rugged terrain, scenic
beauty, picturesque towns and is listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural
confused after contending with yet another proliferation
of helpful signage, we decide to 'dead reckon' our way south. and while we
thought we would just keep the sea over our right shoulder and the sun in
our eyes and we would end up going where we wanted.... sure....any number
of times we often end up off the beaten pass at useless beaches and
abandoned ruins and we would have to have a drink before returning to our
fortuitously we end up on highway 118 along the coast.
or more accurately, above the coast, often with nothing more substantial
than a sturdy, well made, italian designed steel fence protecting the
Mediterranean from a couple of screaming canadians hurtling towards it
from 100's of feet above.
towns appear on the sides of hills and we slowly wind
our way thru them on the 'single track' that passed (pun intended) for the
main drag. jim is driving and ensures that the tires suitably squeal like
out of a scene from deliverance. then it is back to the open
roads....effectively deserted except for the typically suicidal driver we
scarcely now give a second thought to
we eventually stop along the coast for lunch. it is the
first and last time l will consider ordering seafood....nuff said.
l take command of the beast for the first time and
quickly remember to forget any thing resembling driver etiquette, turn
signals, stop signs, or giving quarter. l drive like a champion....jim
says l have the skills of a Kuwaiti, a ringing endorsement, l decide.
as the day plods on, we begin to look for a hotel. as
usual, overwhelmed with an endless variety of hotels and motels to choose
among, we decide on a nice quiet place that happens to be having a wedding
for the entire southern part of italy we are shocked to learn that you
apparently have to be invited to attend so belatedly we are off into the
night to find another place to rest our weary heads.
we find a simple place called the hotel vittoria in
ramona and settle into a quiet's evening reflection and map study for the
next day...followed by a coupla beer and the racks....
just as l had to begun to seductively slide my hand
beneath *'s silken there is an earthquake that shakes both the
building and me....it is dark and loud and l am outta bed and wildly
trying to find my clothes...who wants to get squished to death in an
italian hotel and not be dressed for the occasion....the next coupla
seconds of abject, wild terror are followed by more wild abject terror
followed by noises l assume are made by....jim snoring. apparently having
a hotel room located directly above a major rail centre linking every
single part of europe to directly below our window is not enough to waken
my roommate. when my heart rate drops back to its usual 37, l have had
another beer and made my way back to the racks and a fitful sleep.
sunday 24 sept strait of messina
we are up early and it is yet another stinking hot and
humid day. we continue south. l am driving today and apparently scare jim
with a high speed, cm's-to-spare pass of death. pish, l say to no
one in particular....l mean after driving for hours suspended above the
Tyrrhenian Sea, separated from instant death by a guardrail flimsy enough
even an italian bicyclist, tastefully attired in appropriate safety
skin-tight shirt and cycling pants, could pierce, l am just not gonna get
excited. besides, l was almost killed in an earthquake the evening before.
we arrive at reggio and after yet another fruitless hour
trying to wade our way thought yet another forest of helpful signage, we
find the ferry to messina.
we cross the strait of messina, the narrow section of
water between the eastern tip of Sicily and the southern tip of Calabria.
At its narrowest point it measures 3.1 km (1.9 miles) in breadth, though
near the town of Messina the breadth is more on the order of 5.1 km (3.2
miles). A natural whirlpool forms in the strait, which has been linked to
the legend of Scylla and Charybdis.
In Greek mythology, Charybdis was a sea monster taking the
form of a monstrous mouth, swallowing huge amounts of water three times a
day and then belching it back out again creating whirlpools. On the
other side of the strait was Scylla, another sea-monster. The two sides of
the strait are within an arrow's range of each other, so close that
sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis will pass too close to Scylla and
vice versa. The phrase between Scylla and Charybdis has come to mean being
in a state where one is between two dangers and moving away from one will
cause you to be in danger of the other. Between Scylla and Charybdis is
the origin of the phrase "between the rock and the whirlpool" (the rock
upon which Scylla dwelt and the whirlpool of Charybdis) and may be the
genesis of the phrase "between a rock and a hard place". ok...enuf bs
trivia. suffice to say, the germans retreating in 1943 from Sicily across
the straits had to content with the royal navy and air force, whirlpool
and sea monsters...sucked to be them ( pun thoughtfully intended).
we arrive in messina and find a secondary that takes us
north along the Sicilian coast to milazzo where we will catch the
hydrofoil to the Aeolians Islands.
click on a
picture to see a larger image. hit arrows at either end of the slideshow
for more pictures.
the amalfi coast. beautiful. very, very careful driving.
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