It was 7am and we had a train to catch, the Trenitalia from Naples to Taormina. Which meant we'd miss the wonderful 8 am breakfast at the Marina Piccola 73. Every morning they served a different tart, as well as meats, cheese, breads, cereal, cake, and cappuccinos. Mmmm.
Instead we climbed the long stairs up to town, then on to the Circumvesuviana train, the one that connects Sorrento (and Pompeii and Herculaneum) to Naples. Upon arrival at Naples’ Garibaldi station we found we needn't have skipped breakfast after all; the train from Rome was late and our 9:50 departure was now 10:50. While we waited we grabbed a meager breakfast came from a stand-up café at the station. I tried not to think about the missed breakfast.
The Trenitalia train was clean and comfortable which was not expected based on online comments. I should know better than to trust online comments. We'd read that no food is offered on the train so we packed snacks for the ride. As we sat in the stationary train waiting for it to depart a woman stood in the aisle talking very loudly to anyone who would listen. A few passengers handed her food which bought her silence and then she exited. This brought to mind an experience on the Buenos Aires metro.
The train headed inland, east from Naples, then south along a rocky coast. For the rest of the trip the scenery alternated between tunnels, coastline, and towns of nondescript apartment blocks.
The train was full. Passengers were quiet; they read, slept, or listened to phones. In between looking out the window and following the train’s progress on my phone's Citymaps2go app, I started Camus’ The Plague. The story is set in a nondescript French town populated by nondescript business people. As the story begins the town’s rats all die, then people start to succumb. Camus’ story and his sparse style fit my mood. But that’s as far as I got in The Plague. I stopped when we got to the sea.
I was curious about this ferry crossing, over to Messina in Sicily. You see, you don’t have to get off the train to cross the strait, yet there is no bridge. At the port in Villa San Giovanni, a town at the tip of the toe, the train, minus the engine, rolls onto the ferry which then takes it on the twenty-minute sailing to Messina. While sailing the train passengers are free to disembark the train to wander the ferry.
We walked out on the ferry deck during the short ride. It seemed we could walk wherever we wanted on the ferry—the captain’s door was even open though we figured we’d not bother him.
In this the Italians are less nanny-state than North Americans. BC Ferries, an outfit I've gotten to know a bit, loads passengers, bikes, and cars each separately. In contrast, the ferry to Capri, to take an example, loads everyone simultaneously, cars and foot traffic intermixed, the vehicles weaving around the people. Oh, and there are no railings along the dock, either. A benefit of travel is seeing how others do things.
Once the ferry arrived in Messina the train cars were pulled off and split in two, each connected to an engine. One then headed west to Palermo, the other, our half, headed south to Siracusa. After another hour or so we got off at Taormina-Giardini and took a taxi up to the town and our hotel. Sicily at last.