As I sit here, smelling orange blossoms and listening to excited children’s voices chattering in Italian, it’s hard to believe I’m here! And it has been quite a journey. Back in February, while we were in Florida, I jokingly said to Matt, “We need to go back to Italy. I want to take more photos.” Would you believe that 2 hours later, he was asked to go to Italy AND England for his job?! I couldn’t believe it either! So after some quick planning, here we are at the foot of Mt Etna in Sicily.
Our flight out of Dulles didn’t leave until 10:20 pm. It was so hard to wait through the day, but finally we were off. It was an 8 hour flight to Munich so we tried to sleep. I remember as I dozed that my head was rocking back and forth. I haven’t felt such turbulence in years of flying, so when we landed, I was glad to be standing again. I eagerly awaited landing in Italy, but first we had to endure an eight hour layover in the Munich airport. We were tempted to leave the airport and look for our first German geocache but that would mean going through customs, renting a car and lugging around our carry-ons. So instead, we lounged and tried not to sleep since we wanted to make sure we could fall asleep when we arrived.
Finally, we boarded the flight to Catania, Sicily. Each announcement was given in four languages: Italian, German, English and Spanish. It took quite a while to get through each one! Looking past the other passengers to window, I saw a bright orange stripe, the sunset above the clouds.
We landed on time, but still had to wait for our luggage, go through customs and get our rental car before we could head to our lodgings. It is quite disconcerting to wander around outside an airport, looking for Hertz Rent A Car in a foreign country. No one spoke English, but someone did point us to the left. So, we followed other people from our flight. Yay! There was the Hertz place. Unfortunately, it was dark and no one was there. Were they already closed?! We wandered a bit more, asking people and receiving puzzled looks until we finally found a building with all the rental car establishments’ offices in it. Whew! Now we just had to drive our little Fiat… in the dark… to our B&B.
You see, we had decided that we didn’t want to stay in hotels on this trip. Instead, I did a lot of research and found 13 different B&Bs to stay in. Each one, we’re sure, will have its own charm and idiosyncrasies, and we look forward to that. So, Matt set up his trusty GPS and headed to Tenuta Giaretta, our first agriturismo, a working farm.
I wondered about our sanity as we drove on narrow roads and then our gps said to go off road. We did see a sign for the agrituismo which gave us hope and we approached a heavy locked gate. It didn’t open. Matt got out and pressed buttons. It didn’t open. We waited. I began wondering what it would be like to sleep in the car, along a road, in Sicily. Matt whistled his ear piercing whistle. Nothing. He honked the horn. This brought a dog to the gate. Thankfully, it was friendly. Matt told it to go tell the people we were here. It lumbered off into the dark. I prayed. We waited about 10 minutes. Finally, as we discussed what to do, the gate opened! It was almost midnight as we climbed into the bed, thanking God for answered prayer.
We awoke to sunlight pouring into our room. I got up and peered out. Wow! What a beautiful view of Mt Etna. How much prettier this place was in the daylight! Looking down, I saw farm workers sitting around a fire eating breakfast. One of them sang cheerfully. And why not with such beauty around you?
Our breakfast was eggs, fresh from our hostess’s hens. And she, Clelia, served us orange juice that she squeezed from the oranges of the farm’s groves. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such good orange juice!
After breakfast, we were off to find a store. Matt needed to get Italian SIM cards for our phones so that he could do work. I am sure we have seen parts of Italy that most American tourists never see since they usually come on tours. Not us. We have to search for each thing. Where could we get SIM cards? We are so thankful for gps technology! We got the cards, but then had to wait while they were activated. While we waited, Matt worked in the lobby of the agriturismo.
But now I am tired! I must go to bed. I look forward to telling you more of our adventures!
See the next part of the adventure: Italy 2