Sicily invaded


Not an epic high-speed drive, as Mr. Dexter’s letter of November, but a nice trip to stretch the long legs of my 1971 Gilbern Invader (Jenks may have done the journey many times), and readers may note it as an interesting way to get to North Africa. Or to Sicily via regular car ferries to and from Genoa, Naples, Corsica or Sardinia.

On a Saturday in October last year, 9 a.m. Hovercraft Ramsgate-Calais, sun came out at Rheims, first night stop Pontarlier (511 miles). Second night at Camogli 317 miles on, a small coastal holiday cove a few kilometres past Genoa, warm night and sound of sea and thunder after bad weather over Qt. St. Bernard, but sun and blue skies across plains from Aosta. Third night at Lido di Roma for convenience not scenery, good food and Wagnerian thunder storm over sea; 320 miles that day including inevitable stop at Piza. Fourth day up early, lovely coastal drive again in hot sun to Naples and on to Pompeii for a couple of hours (memo make it two days next time), saw tablecloth of cloud lifted from Vesuvius before leaving for target for that day, Paola, pretty seaside town with family-run albergo on main road. Day’s mileage 344. Up crack-o’-dawn with the window shutters, 116 miles of juggernauts and ox-carts on winding coastal road to San Giovanni ferry across Messina (handsomely served snack on board, British Rail ferries please copy), drive off and out of Messina on wiggly-up-and-down road, but so picturesque, about t6o miles to Palermo. The day’s run in all about 276 miles by nightfall, into big hotel to accompanying din of Sicilian drivers having their accidents outside. Up went the shutters in the morning so we were not late for breakfast! Hot and shatteringly noisy shopping morning, afternoon on beach at Mondello.

Evening Thursday, drive on boat for Genoa, via Tunis, and Cagliari in Sardinia, up the Corsican coast, two hot sunny days lazing on deck, landing at Genoa Saturday evening and proceeding northwards 90 miles on to an albergo near Ivrea. Sunday, lovely drive over col Gde. St. Bernard in clear sunny weather this time, down into Montreux, lunch by lake, on and out of Switzerland to Chaumont, celebrating the last night in style after 404 miles this day. Monday shopping for presents then off en route for Calais K p.m. Hovercraft, home in north London before midnight, 375 miles.

Total mileage 2,652 in seven motoring days, the V6 Ford motor using 78 gallons of fuel and approximately 3 pints of oil and no bothers. We used old roads entirely except for 30 miles in Italy, French autoroutes are expensive and were avoided but Italian autostrada are quite cheap. Purchased Italian tourist petrol coupons here beforehand. We budgeted for about £20 per day living expenses for two and did better than this (except for the last night binge). British Rail act as agents for the .rirrenia Line ferries Genoa-Palermo, which is a State line (there is a private shipping line also, we found the boat clean, efficient and Comfortable with good food. I have not met anyone who was aware of these car ferry services which are so pleasant and useful.

Barnet W.H. ELLIS