Day Fifteen – 17 April 2016
Weather: Sunny, 23
I deliberately made a point of booking a mid-morning flight so that I didn’t have to get up before dawn. As it turned out, a good portion of our group had flights at ten in the morning.
And we get to take a boat to the airport.
We had to pick up the rest of the group at the other hotel and what a difference to be going down the canals at seven on a Sunday morning. Not a soul to be seen and the water was like glass in some areas.
We left Francesca at the other hotel and it was about twenty minutes to the airport where another Monograms rep met us and made sure we got into the right lineups. It’s only an hour to Rome and I have two hours before my flight to Catania.
So, I make pit stop at the ladies room and there’s no line up, so I go in. However, as I’m leaving, I see a line up of about ten people waiting to for a stall has formed.
I say people because they weren’t all women.
The fourth person in the line was a guy so absorbed in his cell phone, he had no clue he was standing in the wrong line.
I just stopped, tried not to laugh and waved low so his eyes would see something that wasn’t on the screen. He looked up.
He looked left. He looked right.
“Oh ma donna!” he exclaimed and made a quick exit. I followed him out and by the time he got to the men’s room, we were both laughing so hard, we could barely walk.
But what got me was that not a single woman in the line said anything to him. He was fourth out of at least ten women so he had to be standing there at least a couple minutes.
And not a single one said boo to him.
Too. Freaking. Funny!
I found my gate and across from it was Venchi’s!
It took some willpower, but I resisted. I can feel the pounds going on from all the gelato I’ve eaten.
The flight to Catania takes only an hour and the flight attendant gave me the exit row to myself. I take the window seat and guessed I was on the right side to see Etna. I had a 50/50 chance.
Nope. As we pass the coastline, I’m looking but all I see are low rolling hills and fields. Then I look out the other window and all I see is the side of a mountain and we’re still five minutes from landing. That’s how high it is.
I get a glimpse after we land and the plane turns to taxi.
Evidence indicates that Sicily was first inhabited as early as 12,000 BCE and in time would become the crossroads of the Mediterranean, caught between warring empires as well as being on a major trade route. One of the earliest people to settle the island besides the Greeks and Phoenicians were the Siculi and they gave the island its name. Sicily became a Roman possession in the 3rd century BCE and after the fall of Rome, it was occupied by the Byzantines in 535 CE. Four centuries later, it fell to the Arabs of North Africa then the Normans in 1060. In the 12th and 13th centuries, it formed part of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies under Naples. In the 18th century, it was ruled by the Bourbons and a revolution in 1860 freed them to join the new Kingdom of Italy.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and has a population of five million with a vibrant agricultural industry.
I’m met by Claudia #1 at the airport and she leaves me with a taxi driver who takes me to the hotel in Giardini Naxos. It’s about a forty-five minute drive and we skim along below Etna all the way. At the Hilton, I’m met by Claudia #2 and she goes through all the stuff I need to know. I tell her I won’t be able to make the included tour the next day as I’m going up to Etna. The included tour starts at three in the afternoon, but I was sure I wasn’t supposed to get back before five.
Claudia called SAT to confirm the Etna tour and later confirmed my excursion to Agrigento that I booked through Monograms. I also asked what I could do on Wednesday and she suggested the Hop on/Hop off bus. Perfect!
Once everything is squared away, I check out my room.
Go to Day Sixteen
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