The wheels on the train go round and round...
Yes, we know that the song actually talks about a bus, but after spending about seven hours on a train Friday we're still hearing the clack of the tracks.
As we said in the first blog, the trip to Naples was exhausting. How exhausting? We slept. For 13 hours. Straight. If we hadn't set our alarm for 9 a.m. Friday, we probably would have missed check out and our train to Taormina. Our hotel, the Stelle Hotel, was adjacent to the train station and a very convenient location for weary travelers. The best part? When we pulled the curtains shut and the balcony door closed, the noise from the street and the light vanished. A great atmosphere for sleeping. The hotel also had a great breakfast that started our very, very long day off right.
With some time before we met our family, we wandered the streets of Naples for several hours. It was, sadly, a bit disappointing as it was dirtier than expected and didn't have the charm we've experienced in other Italian cities we've visited. To be fair, maybe we were still too jet lagged or we didn't get a chance to see other (better) sides of the city. We're returning there later in the trip to it will get second chance to make a first impression.
We met my brother and sister-in-law in the early afternoon and heard about their travels for the previous several days. And then we got on the train...and were on the train...and were on the train. We left about 1:45 p.m. And spent the next seven hours meandering through the countryside.
At one point late in the trip I think we were within a relatively short distance of Cicala in the province of Catanzaro, the town from which my grandfather, Pietro, after whom I'm named, left to emigrate to the U.S. He went to Naples, was aboard the San Giovanni and entered the U.S. In 1909. He went to Carbondale, Pa., to live with his brother, Joseph, and later moved to Bradford where he started the family that led to me. Another trip to Italy in the future will take us to there to see where the Gigliottis began.
When we got to Messina, the train was taken by ferry to Sicily. The process involved the train being broken into sections, loaded on the ferry, and then crossing to Sicily. From the deck of the ferry we watched the crossing wondering ... exactly how much does a ferry with multiple train cars weigh? And when was the last time one sank? Moot questions since we made it.
One lesson we learned. Pack food for the trip. We expected the train to have some kind of food available, but it didn't. We had picked up a few items but not enough for such a long trip, especially drinks. Part way through the trip, someone got on board with drinks, sandwiches and snacks. It was enough to tide us over.
Standing on the platform at Taormina/Giardini Naxos my brother reminded us that this was the train station seen in the Godfather II movie when the Corleones leave Sicily and return to the U.S. The taxi from the train station seemed to take us almost vertically through serpentine roads better suited for their original vehicles of carts rather than modern vehicles, especially buses.
After settling in to our VRBO (a series of fantastic apartments with a gorgeous view of the water), it was a late dinner in Taormina center. The night was capped off, of course, with outstanding gelato, our first this trip, but far, far from our last.
The adventure continues.