We set off after breakfast and a short play on a blustery beach.
The drive to the ferry terminal at Villa San Giovanni was short and punctuated only by gathering oranges overhanging narrow lanes.
The terminal was chaotic and casually signed, but somehow we ended up at the correct place, paid our €40 for a passage as a car not a campervan and embarked immediately. The crossing was short, just 30 minutes or so, and we were soon embattled with other motorists to disembark in typical Italian fashion, with eight lanes of ferry traffic funnelled into one with everyone, including people directly behind, trying to push to the front.
Once off the ferry at Messina I had been expecting to see groups of men in dark suits, carrying tommy guns, huddled around a man in a well tailored suit with cotton wool balls in his cheeks. No – the men and women looked exactly the same as on the mainland. The only apparent difference being the driving was even more chaotic than the rest of Italy.
Once we eventually made it to the Autostrada, I set the cruise control to 90 kph, and let Amarillo loose for a leisurely drive to Balestrate – about 30 minutes the other side of Palermo.
We had just one toilet stop, and I hoped to use the break as an opportunity to top up the adblue tank. However, the adblue pump was out of order – tied up with string – and the service station shop had none for sale. We were down to 1200 Km, and an irritating warning bleep and message every 100 Km. If we run out the engine won’t restart once stopped and it will require a garage reset to get going again, so it’s important not to let it run too low.
We make it to Balestrate just before 4pm, and were met by our hosts who greeted us as old friends. Mr and Mrs Scrivano are the parents of our previous au-pair, Simona. They led us to their farmhouse which is to be our home for the next 17 nights. It is beautifully delapidated, with orange and lemon trees in the grounds and a stray dog making the place its home. My mum and dad arrive at Palermo Airport tomorrow for a family Christmas, and I intend to sign off from this blog until early in the new year when our travels will resume.