April-May 2005 in Italy and Malta
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April 24-27 Capri
May 6-7 Sicily, Scilla and Charybdis
May 7-8 Tropea (Capo Vaticano)
May 10-12 Abruzzi National Park
May 12 Tivoli, Villa Adriana
On to Sicily
The next day, we drove directly to the toe-tip of Italy at Villa San Giovanni near Reggio Calabria, to take the ferry across the Straits of Messina to Sicily. However, rather than going back to the autostrada, which at this point is about 30 km inland, we took the coastal highway for about 100 km. I should say that we intended to do that, but signs for the visitor are not among the highest priority items in this part of the world!
At one point, our map indicated that there was a fork, one highway going to the autostrada, the other continuing along the coast. We wanted the coast road, so when we came to an obvious fork, with the sign saying that one way went to the autostrada and the other to the town we knew was on the coast road, we took the one to the town. However, as it happened, this took us into the town centre, the fork we really wanted being probably a short way along the road that was signed to the autostrada. Looking for the coast road, we eventually found ourselves on a wide road between the railway tracks and the beachfront, which we took.
Soon, the road petered out and became a gravel road.along the long straight sandy beach. Every now and then we passed a culvert which allowed a vehicle to go under the tracks, but none seemd promising as a route to the highway, and many of the culverts also held small streams, which we forded. After about 10 km of this arrow-straight but increasingly rocky road, we could see another town, but we were also confronted with what seemed like a steep drop to a rather fast and deep stream.
Luckily a car was coming the other way, so rather than turning around, we waited to see what it would do. It took a diagonal route and forded the stream, so we followed the same route and got across safely, after which we were able to make our way to and through the town and rejoin our intended highway, and later the autostrada to Villa San Giovanni. The autostrada runs through some wonderful country with great views of the coast and the mountains, but we didn't stop for pictures until we could see Sicily.
In the picture, one can see four ferries simultaneously making the crossing, two in each direction, so there was no question of booking one's crossing. When we returned and looked across the Straits of Messina, there were six ferries on the crossing at the same time.
The Straits of Messina are the location of the ancient phrase "Between Scilla and Charybdis", supposed to be a monster and a whirlpool. Scilla is the name of a modern town based around a rocky point, but Charybdis does not appear on the map. I used the name to refer to the sandy point at the extreme northeast of Sicily. Looking at some of my pictures, I can well believe that there is a whirlpool there, which may have caused difficulty to ships a couple of thousand years ago, especially in case of fog. But not now.
On the "Charybdis" point, there is an absolutely enormous tower of the kind used to carry power lines. There is another one above Scilla, so I presume that they intend to carry cables from one to the other, some day. There are no cables there now, and no indication of the necessary structures further on the Sicily side. To get a sense of the scale of the tower, the little specks in the picture that might be thought to be sand grains are actually two- and three-story buildings.