On the road again. Today we leave Sicily behind and run up into Italy proper. I will miss this part of Italy: we've had a terrific time in Sicily. I don't know what I was expecting for this section of the trip: mafiosi and rundown poverty, I suppose. To the contrary, it has been strikingly beautiful and rich in experiences. I would happily return, even though they do put peas on their pizzas.
We are on the 9:50 train from Taormina to Naples. Mary and I have been slightly puzzled by this leg of the trip: how does the train manage to cross the water that separates Sicily and the toe of the Italian boot? An hour into our trip and all mysteries are resolved. Our train slowly eases from the land into the murky bowels of a ferry. Unlike a car ferry, this vessel has railroad tracks welded onto its deck. It takes our train and another aboard. The crossing takes about thirty minutes, and then we lurch back off onto the land and resume our trip up the western coast of Italy.
I had remarked, a couple of days ago, that summer seems to be at an end here in Italia. This point is hammered vigorously home by our train ride. The tracks wind their way up the coast, sticking close to the sea, passing through tunnels where capes stretch down to the water. From our carriage, we can see miles of empty beaches. From time to time, our train slides past deserted resort towns. The palm frond roofs have been stripped from the frames of the beach clubs, and the sun loungers have been packed away for the season. The girls of summer have returned to the cities and on a cool October afternoon, there is a feel of desolation in the air.
Our train reaches Naples. We unload our heavily laden suitcases (now weighed down with samples of Mount Etna lava) into the scurry of an evening rush hour. The last leg of our journey compels us to climb aboard the Circumvesuviana line, a local train that will haul us out to Sorrento. Or carriage is packed with evening commuters. Mary and I spend the entire ride standing with our luggage in the interstice between two cars. This is a very local line: the train makes 33 stops before we reach our destination.
A long last pull of the Blue Anvil down Sorrento's busiest street (the Corso Italia), before we reach our base for this leg of the trip: a two bedroom flat in a modern apartment block. Mercifully there are no stairs to climb with the Blue Anvil and its smaller siblings.