Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Sidewalks of Catania, Sicily

Camping Jonio, €15
By Claire
Walking through town in Southern Italy has become quite the challenge, as you know from Chuck's two falls. We thought we'd show you what we're up against in Sicily.

So typical--no orange cones here

It seems that sidewalks are really parking lots

Chuck thought the water in that strangely placed fountain was solid plastic and almost stepped in it

What can I say? You either fit or you venture out into traffic.

One of the wider sidewalks

Chuck was being so good about looking down and watching his feet that he walked right into this sign, glancing up at the last second and splitting his lip.

Split lip

Trying to cross the road. I made it across but Chuck is still trying. There are no real pedestrian crossings and even when there are, I swear, the drivers speed up. You just have to run for your life.

The fact that we hear and see ambulances every 30 minutes or so (no exaggeration!) may say something about how treacherous life in Sicily really is. The warbling siren has become just so much background noise, much like the bells of the cathedrals in other areas we have stayed.

Ahhh. Back home to our "beach". This is a very nice place.

The campground people have been very helpful. We had a slight fiasco with the County Assessors Office back home regarding our Homeowner's Exemption. Seems someone made a mistake with our address so we had to download a form, get it printed, sign it and send it back. The campground was wonderful about printing it out for us, provided the stamps and even mailed it for us. When we first arrived, I told her my discount card had been stolen while showing her the ACSI book. She said, "no problem" so we'll still get the discount. They helped us find a Fiat Dealer (not them again!) so we could get Homer's 7500 Km. service done as well as the locks fixed. We walked over there today and somehow communicated our needs. We are to ask for Mr. Christian tomorrow morning at 8 am. We continued to walk the sidewalks in search of a bike repair shop we had been told was nearby and was marked on our map. No luck. We attempted to ask three guys conversing over a bicycle if they could direct us. The bike was our prop. They all got very involved--no English whatsoever--one of them even wanting to take us on a bus! They looked at our map, and with hand gestures and Italian words similar to English, we figured it out and even found the place. Closed.

The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances. ~ Aristotle


Arianna said...

So sorry to hear about the break in in Paestum! That place, though amazing with it's temples has never failed to have a strange feeling on my three visits there and I've always encountered odd things.

Try to be patient because I think traveling in Sicily without speaking Italian will be a challenge at best. It really is a different world there from the more touristy north. Be careful with the cars too! I remember how my Rick Steves book said something like say a prayer to the local saint and run for your life and that wasn't an exaggeration.

I hope things start looking up soon. I think you need to find some good gelato, Sicilian style served inside a brioche. It's addicting :-) Contact me if you need help with talking to someone in Italian (no joke, call!). Though I'm out of practice I could make due.


http://parosparadise.blogspot.com said...

Those narrow sidewalks are like the ones we experience when in Athens! My husband moans and groans how a person cannot walk down the street because cars park on sidewalks, in the street, on corners blocking crosswalks, etc! For me it is ingenious parking, for him it is a nightmare!

It must be very interesting for you to see how people in Europe live (and it works for them!) compared to all the rules and regulations (and fines) people experience in the USA! Which is better? Who can say.....

Sorry about lip, Chuck.

Chuck and Claire said...

Hey thanks! We could have used you today with the Fiat guy. If we'd called you to help, it would have been about 1 am your time. No problem right? You'd probably be up with the kids anyway. We will be looking for that gelato.

Chuck and Claire said...

Thanks for your take on the parking. We'll try to adopt your attitude. We hope our tripping and stumbling ends soon. It is really interesting to see and experience how other people live. It's what makes this trip so fun, even with the challenges. I'm sure you've found that to be true living in Greece.