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Report 607: Driving Trip To/In Sicily

By WV Cyndy from West Virginia, Spring 2005

Trip Description: March 13 to March 21, 2005 Our Driving Trip from Rome to/within Sicily and Back Again

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Calabria, Sicily

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Beach; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 3-4 people

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Page 1 of 6: Saturday - On the Road in Campania & Calabria

photo by Cynthia Hawly

Small Pergola

Saturday March 12th, 2005:

We two, mid-fifty-ish couples arrived in Italy at 8:30 in the morning Italian time. Although we’ve all traveled to Italy annually for lengthy visits as faculty and spouse in a summer study-abroad program, this is our first time flying in to Fiumincino Aeroporto outside of Rome. Among us, we have a basic survival command of the Italian language.

Our best deal of the trip may have been our car rentals. Rather than rent a single larger vehicle for the four of us, each couple rented a manual transmission Fiat Punto. We rented through EuropebyCar, which gave us vouchers for Thrifty Rent-a-Car in the airport. Good signs and moving slidewalks brought us quickly to the Rent-a-Car counters, all located together in one large room. Our Thrifty Rent-a-Car counter workers couldn’t have been nicer, allowing us to charge up our Italian cell phones (purchased on previous visits) at their electric outlets, and watching our luggage while we went for coffee. If there’s one thing Italians understand, it’s the need for frequent quick coffee breaks!

Then, into our Fiat Puntos and onto the A3 heading south to Sicily we went. For me, this drive to Sicily was much dreaded, but ultimately worked out okay. I had consulted with Slow Travelers, posting queries on the Italy message boards and learned that there was a lot of road construction on this road and that there had been snowstorms and bad weather throughout this area the week prior to our trip. I was surprised to hear about the snowstorms, because I thought that Campania, being south of Rome and Lazio, was quite warm. I didn’t know about the mountains!

We passed Naples, the scenery dominated by Mt. Vesuvius, passed the turn-offs for the Amalfi Coast, passed Salerno, passed the turn-off for Paestum, passed the furthest south we had ever been in Italy heretofore. And we found ourselves in a large valley between two ridges of spectacular, snow-covered mountains, shining in the intense blue sky of a crystalline high pressure area. We were worried about finding a place to stay, as we typically don’t do “spontaneous” very well, preferring to have reservations planned ahead. With our friends, we picked a likely looking exit from the autostrada, and that’s how we found Sala and the Hotel La Pergola in Trinita’ di Sala.

The hotel was completely empty save for the small family running the place. Each couple happily paid 45 Euros for a room with en-suite (curtain-less) shower and facilities and a “bellissima vista” of the mountains. The marble-floored rooms were fiercely cold. Our host supplied electric heaters and turned on the radiators from 6 pm to midnight, so it was possible to sleep, especially as tired as we were after our long journey. Sala is “pure” Italy, no English spoken and minimal tourist trade. That evening we had a fine time at Il Rustica where the pizza prices were the lowest that I have ever seen and the owner watched Italian quiz shows on TV with us. Our best experiences are often when we are off the beaten track.

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