The following few days we travelled north along the east coast, stopping at different campsites and cycling into local towns. The weather remained warm and sunny in the south east of Sicily but heavy rain was forecast for the north of the island and the mainland. We stayed with the good weather for as long as we could but eventually we ran out of time and ended up in rainy Messina on the north east corner of the island ready to catch the ferry back to Reggio di Calabria on the mainland. The ferry trip cost 55 euros and took just half an hour.
We were soon driving north towards Salerno and by noon we decided to leave the motorway to find somewhere for lunch. We drove through a couple of small towns but they did not look like nice places to stop, they looked poor and there was a lot of rubbish bagged up, piled by the roadside. So we drove on, the road became narrower and began to climb steeply; there was no opportunity to stop and turn round, so we drove on . . . and on, up and up. The condition of the road was very poor in places, mud slides blocked the inside lane and in places the outside lane had collapsed down the hill. It was hazardous driving and low cloud obscured our view as we climbed higher and higher. We were driving through thick woods and there was hardly another vehicle on the road. Eventually the road levelled out and we came to pine forests with evidence of logging activities; everything was eerily deserted without even the sound of birdsong. A fallen tree blocked the road ahead and we were only able to get past by driving gingerly on the soft verge. After what seemed a long time, the road began to wind its way down again and we felt we were getting back to civilisation – we had been on that road for two hours.
Then we saw a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, lights shining inside and cars parked outside. It was like a mirage in the desert! It was after 2 pm but several diners were still eating in front on a huge log fire. The food was wonderful, pasta with wild boar and mushrooms followefd by chops cooked over a wood fire with potatoes and vegetables. Coffee followed – the cost was 55 euros and worth every penny. It was not far back to the motorway and we were soon driving north again.