Road Trip – Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily to Miami, FL

I know that I should have written this entry a while ago but…I’ve been trying to block it….you’ll understand when you read it….a bumpy road trip….

Corso Garibaldi

My last morning in Castellammare del Golfo and I was up at 3:30am, so I would be ready by 5:15am.  The first leg of my road trip. Felice, my cousin-in-law, was bringing me to the Punta Raisi aka Falcone-Borsellino airport in Palermo. He drove by Corso Garibaldi for me. By 6:00am, I said “A presto” (see you soon) to Felice and went through TSA in no time. On the quick flight to Rome, I had an espresso and cornetto.

Arrived in Rome, went through TSA and passport control then trekked to the farthest international terminal, of course!! Thankfully my checked luggage would have its’ own trek.

Once I arrived at the Alitalia gate, I checked on my seat assignment and waited to board the flight to Miami. A little while later, there was an announcement of a delay due to a strike of the French air traffic controllers. Really??

Now, those of you who have traveled know all about these strikes, especially in Europe!! They can be a P.I.T.A (rompicoglioni) and cause all kinds of travel nightmares.

As I waited, with another espresso, I thought of the time my younger sister Sarah and I went to the Seville Expo (Spain) eons ago. The day of our return to NY, via Madrid to JFK, there was a strike by Spanair in Malaga.  We had to re-book our flights and unfortunately had to stay in Torremolinos, on the beach, another two days!!!  A very big inconvenience! Vito laughed when I called him to ask him to call my boss and tell her the news. Mmmmm….maybe an extra day or two in Rome wasn’t a bad idea….

Two hours later, an announcement was made stating that the Spanish air traffic controllers will be taking over and we could board. Once everyone was settled and Alitalia turned on the in-flight entertainment, I turned my favorite news channel – BBC.

That’s when I heard that EgyptAir Flight MS804 crashed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.  Holy #$!)  All  you could hear was gasping all around the plane. Except for a  young couple sitting across from me, who were still complaining about the delay. When I told them what happened, they continued complaining. I then said “Stop complaining. It could’ve been you”.  They finally shut up!!

Finally arrived in Miami!!  Then a 3 hour trek home!!

Finally!! My Long Awaited Trip – Part 1

Wednesday

Finally!! Today’s the day!! And of course it was pouring this morning & Vito was upset because he was driving me to Miami today. My flight to Rome was scheduled for 8:35pm. I wanted to be at the airport by 5ish to go thru TSA security. I heard the lines are very long. I insisted that Vito stay the night in a hotel rather than driving 3 hours back.

Driving south on 95 the rain let up after an hour & the traffic wasn’t too bad. But of course, after we exited for the airport, the traffic at 12:30pm was bumper to bumper & it started pouring again. Plus people in Florida do NOT know how to drive in the rain. Unreal!!

By chance we found the hotel & checked in. At 5pm we took the airport shuttle. Vito wanted to make sure that I was okay & got to Alitalia. I had already checked-in online but had to check my luggage. Alitalia has a section for “Online Check-in Baggage Drop-off”, so within 15 minutes it was done, then through TSA & on my way to Concourse H.

Lots of people traveling & the plane was an Airbus 330 with 40+ rows of 8 seats. It was storming again as we were boarding. As soon as everyone was settled the captain announced that there would be a ½ hour delay and then again another ½ hour delay. I knew it wasn’t going to be good, as I had a 2.5 hour layover in Rome before my flight to Palermo. Finally, after 1.5 hours we were 18th in line for takeoff!!!

The crew was great as was my veggie meals & the onboard digital entertainment. I read, wrote, listened to music and watched a movie (The Intern – very funny). Plus I had an aisle seat so no climbing over people!  BUT, there were 3 small babies on the flight. And yes, I cursed when I saw them as I knew it would be a very bad night for me. [I was right as I did not get 1 minute of sleep!] They cried all night like a relay race – one, then the next & the last one.  12 hours of non-stop crying!! 

Thursday

By the time we landed in Rome, it was 1:30 pm, I was exhausted!! Because of the delay out of Miami, I had 45 minutes to schlep from the international terminal to the domestic terminal, which was of course, at the other end of the airport!!  I had to go through a TSA check again plus go through customs. The customs line moved like a snail and I was beginning to wonder if I would make my flight!!  I finally got through, in less than a minute, and flew through the terminal. Unbeknownst to me, the gate had changed twice.  Alitalia Gate B is the furthest gate in the terminal!! I arrived at the gate soaking wet from running and got on line to board.

I arrived an hour later in Palermo, had to go through another baggage check for international travelers and then finally exit. Finally!! I saw the sign with my name and was greeted by my cousin-in-law Felice.  We had a lot to speak about on the drive to Castellammare del Golfo.

We arrived at Felice’s Nonna Gio’ B&B

Nonna Gio' B&B Plus Storefront
Nonna Gio’ B&B Plus Storefront
Nonna Gio' B&B - Stairs
Nonna Gio’ B&B – Stairs

 I was shown 2 rooms, one on the 2nd floor & one on the 3rd floor. I took the 2nd floor room.

 

 

 

Cousin Bernardo
Cousin Bernardo

 

But before I settled in, cousin Bernardo arrived. It was great to finally meet him!  I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. He told me to rest, as tomorrow he had many plans for me.  

 

Another Road Trip Back To Sicily After Many Years

Since my sister Laurie & I went to Rome & Sicily in 1999, and met our wonderful cousins, so many things changed. My youngest niece Lori lost her battle with cancer at age 34. My “road trip” older sister Laurie died the following year. Mom died 3 years later and my younger sister Sarah died 2 years after Mom.

So, for many years, I was deluged with paperwork & lawyers to settle all their life affairs. After my niece died without a will, I begged both my sisters to get wills, living wills, power of attorney for medical & finance. My sister Laurie saw the struggles I had with her daughters’ affairs & did get a will, as did Mom, but Sarah didn’t. Things still popup now & then that have to be addressed.

[And as anyone who knows me, will tell you, I am always asking people if they have these 4 documents. I know, it does get embarrassing for my Vito. But it will save their family a lot of heartache & cursing!!]

I had planned 2 trips to Sicily but cancelled after Mom died and again after Sarah died.

Also, 2 years after Sarah died, in October 2010 I received a fax from cousin Bernardo informing me that cousin Lorenzo died. Now, I was devastated. I never saw Lorenzo again which is my biggest regret.

I joined the local Genealogy Society, volunteered to co-chair the Italian Genealogy Interest Group (GIG) & continued researching our family history. But as any genealogist will tell you, there are still many more missing pieces to the family history. As a matter of fact it is a never ending story!!! And Sicily was calling my name.

So, in response to Sicily calling to me, I answered. I told Vito I wanted to go back to do more research. He just rolled his eyes. I sent flowers to cousin Maria with a note that I would see her in May; called cousin Bernardo in Germany to tell him I was going to Castellammare del Golfo to do research; booked a room at Nonna Gio’ B & B (owned by cousin-in-law Felice); and booked my ticket on Alitalia.

On my way back to Sicily!!

View of Harbour in Castellammare del Golfo, Trapani, Sicily from the Villa Comunale
View of Harbour in Castellammare del Golfo, Trapani, Sicily from the Villa Comunale