A year before the Road Trip with my sister (1996), I had to book our timeshare for the next year. Since the timeshare is in Spain, we usually returned to Fuengirola for at least 2 weeks and had a wonderful time with Monika, Freddy, Zala, Seb, Gerardo and a cast of other characters.
But the next year I wanted to go to Sicily. I had never been there but something was pulling at me to go. Vito, not so much, as he enjoyed Spain. Plus a former colleague wanted to go. So, I booked a week in Sardinia and a week in Cefalu.
So, in my Journey to Discovery episode (2nd), I mentioned writing to the Stato Civile in the Commune of Messina. Simultaneously, I went to the Italian white pages and did a search on the surname Cottone in Messina. I sent out some letters (what I call a mass mailing) and hoped I would receive at least one reply.
Fast forward, to May 1997: 2 days before we left for Sardinia and Cefalu, I received a reply to one of my letters!!! I couldn’t believe it!!! I wanted to reply, but decided that I would try to contact the Signora when we were in Sicily. That letter burned a hole in my pocket the whole time we were in Sardinia. The Emerald Coast is absolutely gorgeous!! We stayed at a wonderful timeshare in Cannigione (Sporting Hotel Tanca Manna).
After a week of soaking up the sun, time at the beach, finding great restaurants and exploring the island, it was time to fly from Olbia to Palermo. Since we had a 1 day lag between checking out of 1 timeshare and checking into the 2nd one, we booked into the President Hotel overseeing the port of Palermo. How we got there was a miracle!! There are NO street signs in Palermo, as they are embedded into the cornerstones of buildings!! So, unless you drove on the sidewalks, which vespas were doing, you had no clue!! As Vito was driving around in the city, an angel in the next car asked “Dove stai andando?” We all replied “Il porto”. She asked “l’aeroporto”. “No, porto”. She said “Vieni seguimi!” [Follow me]. Thankfully we arrived at the hotel.
During the course of the day, Vito, who is in the hotel business, did his networking among the staff. In speaking with the maitre d’, Giovanni, he happened to mention the letter I received right before we left. Giovanni took the information and called the family in Messina. He told us that we were invited for Sunday dinner at their home!!! OMG!!! We couldn’t thank him enough. I was stunned!!!!
Checked out the next day and drove to Cefalu to the Mazzaforno Sporting Club, our home base for the next week. We spent the day exploring in the town of Cefalu, especially the Piazza Duomo where the Norman Cathedral is located. It is absolutely breathtaking.
So, on Sunday morning, we started our trip to Contessa, a municipality of Messina. We drove on the A20 highway until the road was blocked by a mountain (yes, a mountain with no tunnel)!! We then had to take the sea road (a single land in either direction) for about 140 kilometers. Then back up to the A20 highway, which you can see from the sea road. Too weird!!
We stopped at an Agipe (petrol station) to ask for directions, but instead the attendant called the house for us and lo & behold our rescuer told us to follow him. When we arrived at the house it was a street party!! They were barbecuing in front and the whole family was there to welcome us!!! It felt like Christmas!! What a wonderful day with a loving family. After dinner, we then went to another cousin’s home on the Straits of Messina. What a fantastic day!! Grazie Signora Carolina e Signora Rosa.