Lovely Salvo had mended our puncture first thing in the morning, hadn’t he? That’s how I left the last Diary blog. So we set off northwards, to a campsite on the coast near Acireale (in the shadow of Etna, as if we hadn’t had enough of that mountain!) The campsite was tucked into the steep cliffs, beside a village called San Maria de Scala. The weather was overcast and there were a few spots of rain (what’s that? Water from the sky? We’ve had none of that since Cinque Terre weeks ago!) so we spent a quiet afternoon getting the sheets washed and dried and chatting to some British campervanning neighbours. Then in the evening we walked into the village, found a good fish restaurant and treated ourselves to a good meal out.
Better weather though very hot. We walked to the village then up some steep zig-zags and into the town of Acireale which is yet another Baroque glory but has relatively few tourists.
Unfortunately we managed to arrive about 5 minutes after all the churches and museums etc closed for their 3 1/2 hour lunch break. So we explored parks, had a leisurely lunch and hung around till 4pm when the cathedral and churches reopened. It was worth the wait – the cathedral for some obscure reason has a line of longitude marked out in its floor, as well as a set of standard measures – a metre, 3 Parisian feet, 3 English feet, and others, all laid down in 1843. Bizarre thing to find!
We had a plan, which was to visit Taormina (a hill top town) and then spend our last night in Sicily in a campsite between there and Messina. But the parking curse got the better of us. Our plan to park at the foot of the cable car taking you up to the town failed as it did not allow campervans in. So we headed to one of the two official Taormina car parks mentioned in the guidebook – which said no campervans and directed you to the other car park. Which was closed. Found some dodgy chap a little way down the hill but he wanted an extortionate amount so in the end we decided we’d probably seen enough hill top towns and Baroque churches anyway, so we left the area. We ended up in Messina, on the ferry, back in mainland Italy, all by lunch time.
After a quick replan we decided to head over towards Puglia, and get the driving out of the way. Arrived at a small seaside town called Metaponto, which is in Italy’s ‘instep’. The campsite has a lovely sandy beach. Just up the road was a restaurant named the Blue Iris at which we had our best meal out yet. The seafood starter that we shared was amazing – 3 plates of food arrived with 3 or 4 different mini-dishes on each. All for 10 euro.
After the long drive yesterday we’d decided to spend two nights here. Very hot today. We took the bikes off and cycled around the area. It’s lovely flat country, with no traffic, plenty of cycle lanes and decent road surfaces, so very pleasant for cycling. We came across an archaeological museum and then the remains of some Greek temples and other buildings, so had a look at those, then ended up back at the Blue Iris for lunch.
Had our first dip in the sea this afternoon – about time! Very pleasant after a hot day out. And then an hour or two sitting in the sunshine reading, followed by a barbecue outside the van. Bliss.
Things we miss about Sicily:
Lovely helpful people in campsites, Baroque architecture, Mount Etna
Things we don’t miss about Sicily:
Horrendous road surfaces, litter everywhere, lack of parking skills in Sicilians