Mary: Today’s post is written by both John and me.
John: It’s raining as we leave Matera. We drive up out of the Sassi cautiously, make our way to the SS7 towards Metaponto where we pick up the SS106 and drive southwest along the shoreline of the arch of the Italian boot. We have driven on very few good roads this trip, and a lot of bad ones, but this is the worst. Fortunately we cut over to the A3 in Calabria more toward the boot’s instep and head down toward the toe.
We stop for coffee, of course. When we resume, it starts pouring. I am not doing a good job controlling the weather. Fortunately Mary has done a superb job making sure the bad weather falls on a travel day.
Mary: Ever since we heard the ridiculous and anti-Semitic remark by the Washington D.C. city councilor that Jews control the weather, we have been on John’s case to keep the weather pleasant for our vacation. I, on the other hand, am well-known for my magic powers so it is no surprise that it only rains on travel days.
John: Italian civil engineers love tunnels. We go through many very new ones that are wide and well-lit. At Villa San Giovanni we exit the highway (toll-free even for the long stretch we drove) and make our way to the ferry. Thanks to Sarah spotting the critical “Imbarco” sign we catch the ferry with just a couple of minutes to spare and sail over to Messina. We successfully wind our way through Messina onto the Autostrada down to Taormina.
While ascending the narrow twisty streets to Villa Ducale I am once again appreciating the automatic transmission of our Opel and the fact that it is a bit less wide than the Alfa Giulia. We arrive at our hotel with only the occasional raindrop coming down. Maybe I have done my job after all.
Mary: This is actually the fourth time John and I have stayed at Villa Ducale. It has become a lot more boutique than when we first came here almost ten years ago. A lot of the staff has changed with the exception of Paolo, the hotel manager. His father, Aurelio, gave John a cooking lesson the first time we were here and Sarah had a lesson three years ago. Sadly we hear that Aurelio has passed away.
At the hotel is a superb breakfast, afternoon tea with treats, and cocktail time with hors d’oeuvres. We stop in for a glass of wine on the porch around 6:15.
We decide to have dinner at the hotel. We are tired from the long day’s drive. The food here (other than breakfast) is okay and the view is great. Getting down to town involves expensive taxi rides or meshing with a shuttle schedule and that seems like too much trouble tonight.