Cariati was one of those tiny towns in the south of Italy nobody visited. Without the intentions of sounding rude, everyone asked why we would. It wasn’t for some-seven or so more hours that we realized what an extravagantly ridiculous reason we had…. Though never translated to the villagers, “We wanted to see the sun rise over water.” which only added 4 hours to our stick-shifting road-trip through rural, hilly, Italy. 7:30 AM, you could have found us walking our delirious bodies along the sandy beach of the Ionian Sea, taking photos with the sun’s rise. The sky, a canvas for strikingly vibrant colors and the puffed up cumulus clouds, coated in magnificent light. Maybe it was worth it.
We dragged ourselves off the beach, up the cobblestone, over the train tracks and into a Macelleria-butcher shop. A cute old man, as cliché-old-school-Italian as they come, made us prosciutto-mozzarella-tomato sandwiches. His good-natured amiability is the real reason to travel. The people. The places are great, sometimes beautiful, other times breath-taking, yet, nothing compares to the good souls, found around the word, and only on the trails. Don’t worry about taking the right path, none leave you left in the wrong.
Every person in the town could have been casted for The Sopranos.
Stocked on Italian Abracci-cookies, water and espresso, we re-entered the auto-strada for more binge-partying. Our destination was Vila San Giovanni, the port of mainland Italy, in the southern region of Calabria, that would cross us over to Messina, Sicilia (Sicily). The “Messina Straights” are treacherous, read about them.
We had been on the road 14 hours when we started winding UP and down, CuRvInG left & riiiight, for 140 kilometers. We brought our fiesta to a pause and walked around the town of (unidentifiable). We were beckoned into a bar / café, happy to oblige. These are very common in Italy, serving both alcohol and caffeine, stand-up style. Being from New York practically gave us celebrity status. Knowing how to speak English gave some of the towns-people clout. When someone can’t communicate with us, they say, in Italian “wait, I have someone who speaks English, I’ll go get them!” with delight in their voice and achievement in their heart, scurrying off to fetch the local oracle. Never brilliantly articulated, we share the simple ideas of the moment, some smiles, and almost always some form of food.
It was time to carry on, we drove for a few more hours, boarded the ferry in Messina, found a hotel, and alleviated ourselves of the confinements of that damn vehicle. T passed out, I found a bar.