Day 24: Casa, Dolce Casa

This morning we were up at 7:15, ready, breakfasted, out the door, and waiting at the Prestia e Comande bus stop by 9:05 to catch the 9:15 bus to the airport.  Everything was right on time, and 45 minutes later we found ourselves once again at Palermo’s Falcone-Borsellino Airport.

Jim grinning and bearing it for one last photo

Jim grinning and bearing it for one last photo

The 12:15 Air Dolomite flight to Munich left more or less on time and about 2 hours later we were dropped off in Germany.  One brief layover there and we were soon back in the air on a Lufthansa flight direct back to Chicago.  All in all, the entire process was pleasant and Jim and I were able to watch 4 movies on board and share the armrest amicably.

There had actually been a (very) light snow in Chicago right before we arrived home, which was a far cry from the balmy warm sun we just left behind.  And while the cold and blustery weather smacked us back to reality and felt a bit harsh, sleeping in our own bed was the welcome home we’d looked forward to.

A few final thoughts on driving survival in Sicily…

Pocket-sized car, good for traveling in Sicily

Pocket-sized car, good for traveling in Sicily

Normally I do a brief trip wrap-up on the final post, but one might argue that this trip has already been covered well and certainly without economy of words.  And really, there is no need to relay that I took over 2,000 photos.  As such, I think what would be more useful is to do a little rundown on driving in Sicily, instead.

Sicilians, while technically Italians, are an animated, warm, distinctive culture totally separate from the mainland.  And while Italians are known in some circles as being, um, unique with their driving style, Sicilians take it to a whole other level.

First, you need to try to understand a strange dichotomy we observed:  it appeared that a typical Sicilian driver is impatient, aggressive, and forever in an enormous hurry and anyone else’s existence on the road is a complete nuisance and impediment to their driving goal.  But what is that goal, we wondered time and again?  Well, one day it finally dawned on us where all these people were going in such a hurry:  to eat.  You see, you put a Sicilian behind the wheel of a car and it’s as if they have immediately engaged in a road race while sitting on a bed of hot coals.  But you seat a Sicilian at a table in a restaurant and they won’t budge for hours on end.  So of course it makes sense now, they need to drive expeditiously to save every possible second of the day to use at mealtime.

Our trusty whip parked with a lovely view while we were out and about

Our trusty whip parked with a lovely view while we were out and about

Secondly, know that everything is only a suggestion.  Stop signs, traffic lights, parking lines, speed limits… it’s only something to consider or take under advisement, not follow as if it were the law, or anything.  In fact, Jim was convinced the speed limit signs were actually ½ limits, so if you saw one that said 50km/h it actually meant to go 100km/h, and so forth.

Thirdly, Sicilians drive with an “economy of movement” mantra.  That is to say, they take the rule that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line very, very seriously.  For instance, when a Sicilian wants to pass you on the Autostrada they will not fully employ the use of the lane to your left.  No, that would take them way too far off the path of a straight trajectory.  Instead, they will move over juuuuuussssst enough, passing with only mere inches to spare without fully swapping paint.  If anyone ever invented a car that simply rose up on stilts and went directly over the car in front of them, I imagine it would be a big seller in Sicily.

Try reading a sign barrage at 50km/h with a Sicilian hot on your tail

Try reading a sign barrage at 50km/h with a Sicilian hot on your tail

This leads me to fourthly, lanes.  On a road where there is, say, one lane going one direction and one lane going the other direction, most people would see two lanes total, one of which is off limits and reserved for oncoming traffic.  Not a Sicilian.  A Sicilian sees this as a 4-lane road, possibly 5, and thick white or yellow lines painted on the ground are merely decorative.

Fifthly, wherever you need to park just pull in and leave it there.  Anywhere, wherever you need to.  Sidewalk, No Parking Zone, church steps, perpendicular to the striped parking lanes, double parked, whatever.  You’ll be fine.

Sixthly, smile and hang on.  Much like experiencing Sicily in general, you are in for quite a ride.

Buon Viaggio!

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