Getting lost is never fun and when you ask locals they always seem to say "Sempre dritto" [straight ahead] and point you down the road whether they understand what you are asking or not, or know the answer!
So, this trip the agreement to hire a car in Sicily was on the basis of some strict rules:
1. We would use Google Maps on our iPhones or iPads to reduce the likelihood of getting lost (note the wording here.... REDUCE LIKELIHOOD)
2. We have a dear friend in Milan whose mantra to us was "Con calma, tranquilli, senza stress!!" [calm, peaceful and with no stress]. This was going to be our mantra while driving in Sicily, where in Palermo in particular, the traffic is renowned for the inducement of red line stress levels.
|Driving in Naples as it used to be!|
So, objective number two was doubly re-inforced by the time we picked up our rental car in Palermo, Sicily.
Objective number one was tested immediately. We confidently and assertively declined the offer of a GPS from the rental car company, putting all our faith in Apple to guide us through Sicily. With two iPhones and two iPads, that should do it.
We entered our destination into the Apple device, a remote part of rural Sicily, and wonderfully, Google Maps found it. All good so far.
Then we clicked on 'Directions from our Current Location' and wonderfully a blue line appeared on the map and off we go.
|Traffic pouring through an ancient|
portal in down town Palermo
Second problem - the blue dot that indicates your current location has some lag from real time. This takes a bit of getting used to when you are driving down a one way, multi lane road with myriads of little side streets - one of which you need to take... Decisions need to be taken with split second timing..
So, the initial result was two loops around one way streets before we managed to get out of central Palermo. Not too bad.... it felt as if we had got off lightly.
The next lesson was the next day when we set off to find Monreale. All was fine until the recommended route took us to a point in the back blocks where the road was closed. Blocked off. Take another route. Hang on a minute, we have just driven for half an hour, are in the middle of nowhere and the road is closed!!! What to do? Turn back or take the detour that the road signs indicated? Surely it must just go around the piece of the road that has washed away and we will be back on the road?? We took the recommended detour. MISTAKE!!! We ended up winding through incredibly narrow back roads and taking literally hours to get to our destination. Objective #2 was getting sorely tested by the time we arrived! When we mentioned this later to one of our lovely agriturismo hosts, he calmly said, "oh yes, that road's always closed, you never go that way"!!. No-one had mentioned this common local knowledge to Google. Obviously.
That was the first part of my Italian driving education - more to come!