It is 7am and we have to catch a train from Naples to Taormina. While I look forward to seeing Sicily it is somewhat unfortunate because we miss the 8am breakfast at Marina Piccola 73 and the breakfast is very good. Every morning they feature a different delicious tart in addition to meats, cheese, breads, cereal, cake, and cappucinos. I’m on holiday so i eat lots of dessert.
If you’ve read previous posts you know the Circumvesuviana train connects Sorrento to Naples (also Pompeii and Herculaneum) so once again we are on the local train to the city.
Once at Naples’ Garibaldi station we find all the trains from Rome are late so our 9:50 becomes a 10:50. Breakfast is at a stand-up cafe at the station.
The Trenitalia train is clean and comfortable which is not what i’d expected from online comments. No food is available though so we bring snacks for the ride. As we wait for the train to pull out of the station a woman stands in the aisle talking very loudly to anyone who will listen. Passengers hand her food which buys her silence and then she exits, all of which brings to mind a similar experience on the Buenos Aires metro.
The train heads inland, east from Naples, then south along the rocky coast. For the rest of the trip the scenery alternates between tunnels, beautiful coastline, and towns of nondescript apartment blocks.
The train is full. Passengers are quiet: they read, sleep, and listen to their phones.
In between looking out the window and following the train’s progress on the map app on my iphone (citymaps2go which i highly recommend) I start 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 to what appears to be the plague. For some reason Camus’ story fits my mood.
That’s as far as i got in The Plague. I stopped reading because i was curious about the ferry crossing to Messina. 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 ride to Messina. Train passengers are free to disembark the train to wander the ferry.
We walked out on the ferry deck during the short ride. We could walk wherever we wanted to 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. For example, BC Ferries loads passengers, bikes, and cars separately whereas with the ferry to Capri everyone poured on simultaneously, cars and foot traffic intermixed , the vehicles weaving around the people. And there are no railings along the dock, either. One of the benefits of travel is seeing how others do things.
Once the ferry arrives in Messina the train cars are pulled off and half head west to Palermo, the other half head south to Siracusa. Our car goes south.
After another hour or so we get off at Taormina-Giardini and grab a taxi to our hotel. Tomorrow we’ll explore Taormina.
The picture is of the train in the hold of the ferry.