Driving in Sicily – More Tales of Getting Lost

DSCN2805 (640x480)As I was planning this trip to Italy,  I had the idea to take a cooking class, for something different. My sister-in-law, Monica, also liked the idea, and knew that my brother, Rick, wouldn’t care about it. He could find something else to do, like walk for four hours!

Anyhow, after researching classes in Italy, I found varying price levels, ranging from sixty euros in Rome to two hundred euros in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. Translateted  into dollar figures at the euro conversion rate while we were in Italy, that is roughly between $78 and $260 per person for a four-hour cooking class, including lunch.

Since you know I am not a foodie, I certainly wasn’t going to pay more than $100 for a cooking class. So I started shopping around, and found this small agriturismo in Sicily, about an hour or so outside of Palermo. After e-mailing Signor Filippo, he confirmed a spot for the two of us on the day we requested. He was more than happy to  agree that we did not cook pesce, or fish, since his agriturismo is inland, and not near the sea, anyway. They use what is available to them, so that is perfect. He also could accommodate Monica’s request for a vegetarian entree. So, this would work out well, since his Agriturismo Tarantola was on the way to Palermo, after we would leave Agrigento. It was a little off course, basically on the way. And the price was great – only sixty-five euros.

Little did we know that we would almost not even make it that day. We left our Agrigento hotel before 8:30 since our cooking class was scheduled for 11am. Google Maps had indicated that it was an hour and a half away, although everywhere we have driven has taken much longer than anticipated. We planned extra time to get there, including having to find it, since its location was in the countryside of Sicily.

In addition to our Garmin navigator, we had Google Maps with point by point directions on my iPhone. The only problem was that there was no real address. The website just listed Alcamo, Sicily. Still, Google Maps had located it even when the GPS did not. Can you tell where this story is headed?

DSCN2810 (640x480)The drive started out as a beautiful scenic tour through southern Sicily, first along the coast, where we could see the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. As we continued, we began climbing, and saw vineyards, windmills, and some shepherd dogs with sheep.

About thirty minutes from Alcamo, the cell phone battery was exhausted, so there went the Google Maps directions. I called on my Italian phone to ask for more specific directions and to let Signor Filippo know that we didn’t know where we were. we were driving toward Alcamo but knew we were too close to the city. By now it was 10:30. We retraced our steps and tried to locate the right road,  MS 10, according to directions we were given by someone at Agriturismo Tarantola, but no road was marked as such. After driving some more, we made another call, and this time, Signor Filippo instructed us to drive to another town, Camporeale, and find the correct road from there.

So that is what we did, and when we arrived there, at 11:40, nobody that we spoke with, had heard of this agriturismo, and also knew nothing about this road. I am not sure if they even understood my Italian, as they probably were speaking in their dialect. fortunately a young Italian woman, who spoke some  English, kindly translated for me, and a second woman agreed to drive her car, and guide us out of  Camporeale, and direct us to the correct road, which would then have a sign for the agriturismo. God bless these wonderful Sicilian women who took time away from their own agendas to help us.

DSCN2812 (640x479)Leaving us at the edge of town, she told us in Italian to drive past a wine place called  Tenuta Rapitala and that we would find a sign to where we were headed. Amazingly, we arrived at Agriturismo Tarantola at noon, only an hour late.

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Signor Filippo greeted us with hugs and kisses, telling us in English that he was just getting ready to leave in his car to try and find us! This is Sicily! These are real Sicilian people! I feel at home.
Signor Filippo Testa and Monica and Margie

12 Responses

  1. cnels2

    Margie, I felt for you as you described your frustrating experience, and the flood of relief when the Sicilian women offered to get you there! Also, Signor Philippo looks like a dad with his two daughters! So cute!!


  2. Jenny P

    Sounds like just getting in a car in Sicily becomes an adventure. I have to agree about how helpful Italians are, even up north in Milano. Please post about what you cooked and whether doing a cooking class was worthwhile.

  3. jencvt2002

    Oh dear! I’m glad you made it! It doesn’t surprise me at all about how helpful the Italians are. What did you cook? Will we get pictures? Ciao!

  4. imarancher

    I too feel the panic. It is amazing that you can have so much trouble and just be rescued by anyone that crosses your path. So many people tell me how they are all treated like Ugly Americans wherever they go in middle Europe but I never hear this from Italy. In Italy it is always total strangers helping “foreigners” out. What a nice reputation to have. Bonnie D.

  5. George Miklas

    Is our USA driver’s license valid in Europe? I would like to rent a car in Germany at the end of the month.

    *George Miklas,* Harmonica Performing Artist and Entertainer

    *THE HARMONICA WIZARD MARCH* by John Philip Sousa – *Harmonica Repair* Done Right by George – *HOHNER * *Harmonicas* *…Just Breathe* *SPAH *- Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica, a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to serving the harmonica community.

    On Sun, Oct 13, 2013 at 6:07 PM, margieinitaly

    • margieinitaly

      Yes George, Thank you for stopping by my blog. A trip to Germany sounds like a great time!! Enjoy! You need your driver’s license and it is advisable to obtain an international driver’s license. If stopped by the authorities, as I have been, it comes in handy. You can apply at AAA and I think the cost is $10 plus the photo…It is good for a year.

  6. Liz

    Oh could feel your panic..we did the same looking for an Ouzo factory totally missed the sign and it was too late to turn back…all part of the adventure..thanks for sharing regards Liz

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