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The Sicilian Ride

Author: Maria Marrocchino
Date of Trip: October 2011

A Sicilian ride.

On the bus ride from Giardini Naxos to Taormina in Sicily you are sure to witness any or all of the following: Italian cursing, obscene hand gesturing, cars halting and screeching, excessive honking, lots of “whoa’s” by the nervous riders and some of the most spectacular views of splendid seas and beaches that one can ever dream of seeing. I’ve come to love this 15-minute bus ride between the two ancient towns in Sicily. I say 15 minutes but one never really knows how long it will take. This is because the windy uphill street on the way to the famous and charming town of Taormina is narrow and the buses so big that it becomes quite the rollercoaster ride. On one ride, the bus came so close to the other car, it took 7 minutes for us to get through. The stubborn Sicilian bus driver doesn’t move, he waits for the car that is confronted by his enormous 6 wheeler to back up, but of course this gets complicated when all the other cars come piling behind, creating quite hysteria on this beautiful curvy street. The skillful bus driver does however, always make it through unscathed at which point the entire bus applauds and yells “bravo”. For one euro and 70 cents, this is one of the cheapest and most entertaining things one can do in the rather posh town of Taormina.

Of course this is all smiles and giggles until you are running late to meet your new, charming Sicilian boyfriend in a chic restaurant in Taormina for dinner. Hoping not to have a car confrontation is inevitable. A black SUV tries to sneak by but it’s a tight squeeze and so the maneuvering begins. And there I was in my pretty floral summer dress and sling back heels, lipstick in hand, yelling out “vai vai disgraziato”, which is not at all lady like, but what can I say, I lost my head, which many people do when they come to Sicily. Perhaps it’s the crisp mountain air or the crystal blue seas or the spicy glowing sun that can make you bite your knuckles and join in on the festivities of Italian cursing. After being here for 36 days, I wondered why the transit company doesn’t just use smaller buses but it seems all this high paced drama is part of the common Sicilian life. Besides I can’t think of a more justified place to lose your head than on this operatic bus ride.

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