The Day Siri’s Cousin Tried to Kill Us All in Sicily or Silvia’s Revenge
We started out the day like any other, a leisurely prima colazione in the garden, and then about 10 trips back and forth packing the car for a drive into the Sicilian countryside. Our plan was a day of sightseeing: lunch in Ragusa, marveling at the Baroque architecture that abounds in this part of the island, a refreshing late-afternoon granita, and back to the pool at our lovely Noto hotel, Villa Favorita. Then on to the charming fishing village of Marzamemi for a seaside dinner around 8:30.
On paper, it was a good plan.
So how did a one-hour trip to Ragusa turn into a two-and-a-half-hour drive that nearly ended with us driving off the edge of a mountain? We blame that on Silvia.
And who is Silvia? She’s not a mistress, someone we owe money to, or even a distant relative who didn’t make the Thanksgiving cut. Silvia, as she’s called by my husband (among several other unprintable names), is our rental car’s GPS. Silvia speaks to us in the voice of a British schoolmarm, and mispronounces Italian place names with a regularity that’s truly astonishing. But Silvia doesn’t bother with such trifles. She has the courage of her convictions, and to tell you the truth, we trusted her. Until we didn’t.
All went well until we passed through Modica, then we (and the whole trip, unfortunately) began to go off course. We’re basically trusting folk, so we let Silvia lead us onto gravel roads, up and down the mountain, until we seriously came to the edge of a cliff. (“Turn left at the next opportunity and proceed to the roundabout,” Silvia intoned, in her clipped vocalization, as we edged nearer to the cliffside.) Our first clue should have been when, a few kilometers back, a garbage truck driver yelled at Jim to turn back, and then realizing our Italian wasn’t “fluent,” threw up his hands and waved us on. Jim is not a timid driver, so with gravel and dust flying like Stromboli on a bad day, we sped on down the road until the road simply . . . disappeared.
Thank God Yao Yao was in a Dramamine-induced stupor for most of it.
For the rest of the day, we trusted our own instincts (and road signs) to get where we needed to go. But truthfully, you need a GPS to get where you need to go with the state of road signage in Sicily. We need Silvia, but we no longer trust her.