Before I left on vacation, I went to see “A Good Year” starring Russell Crowe with the lady friends I hang out with. There was a scene in this movie when the ruthless, arrogant, spoiled, filthy rich, high-powered commodities and stock trader played by Crowe needs to rent a car in his travels to France.
Not well liked by anyone in the movie, including his secretary, she rents him a car that is the size of a roller skate. I do not know what the make of this car was, but it is two seats and an engine. It cannot be longer than 6 feet from bumper to bumper.
I figured that I would get one of these.What I got was so much worse.
An American car! And a Ford at that! I do not even drive an American car in America! Ha! I will say though that it is a nice car. It is larger than an Escort. It has four doors and a hatch back, and it is standard shift. It has decent pickup and good handling. All which become important later on in the story.
By the time I actually got on the road, it was 2pm. Not quite the early start I wanted, but on the road, nonetheless.
I found the highway without much difficulty and started my journey south. It was a nice day, albeit chilly and overcast.
It was also the shortest day of the year.
I did get to see some beautiful scenery, but much of my journey I made in the dark and rain. I also ran into traffic and road construction on my journey, but not much of either.
The roads are well marked, as long as you can read Italian. I knew what I was looking for, and by some miracle of fate, I left the car rental parking lot, made a couple of turns on pure instinct and was on the road to Sicily!
Google said that it should take me 7+ hours to make the drive from Naples to Catania. It looked like a simple enough shot—one highway the whole way until I got to the very tip of the “boot” of Italy. There, in Villa San Giovanni, I would find the ferry that would take me into Messina, Sicily.
I was tired from the stress of traveling, stress of lost luggage, traveling through five or six time zones, and waiting in a multitude of lines, so I knew that I would be stopping along the road for little catnaps and breaks.
Autostrada A3 is perfect for this! There is a turn out at least every quarter mile, and a rest stop at least every 5 miles. The rest stops have clean bathrooms, a small grocery store and a grill.
They say the food in Italy is the best in the world. After stopping at one of the rest stops and using the facilities, I decided to plunge in and start speaking some Italian. Hunger will do that to you.
At the grill, there were all manner of sandwiches. When I was unable to translate what the sandwich contained, I pulled out my handy dictionary in my palm pilot and translated. When I figured out which sandwich I wanted, I bravely went up to the counter and asked for the Foccacella.
“Prendo un foccacello, per favore?” The woman behind the counter took the sandwich from the display then put it on the grill for a few minutes. In the meantime, I got a bottle of water, picked up my sandwich when ready, then headed out to eat it.
SCRUMPTIOUS! Even at a roadside rest stop, the sandwich was incredible. All I ordered was a simple ham sandwich, with cheese and tomatoes on a foccia roll. Not processed ham mind you, nor processed cheese. With fresh tomatoes and bread and a tasty dressing spread. DELICIOUS!
Satisfied, fortified, hydrated, I was ready to resume my journey