Fasten Your Seatbelt: A Ride Through Sicily

December 7, 2010

A while back I groused about driving in Sicilian hill towns—about the narrowness of  lanes and the stone walls that jump out to smack your side-view mirrors.  Could you squeeze through these streets? I asked.

Now I’m going to show you what I mean. I’m piloting; my husband’s holding the Flip out the window. Put your seat back into full upright position and store your tray table. (click here for video)

By the way, this is the “road” I drive to reach my house.


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26 comments to Fasten Your Seatbelt: A Ride Through Sicily

  • I have no idea how you squeezed past that van in the last take! What a fantastic post. I enjoyed the anticipation of wondering if another if another vehicle was going to meet us head on! 🙂 The houses on the street view are absolutely breathtaking!

  • Jann and Kim, Thanks for this! I felt “homesick” on this journey and I’ve never even been to Sicily! It just feels so much a part of my soul…must visit soon. I loved the nonchalance of the workman as you came within inches of him…all normal life in Ibla, I suspect. One question: why so few people out and about walking?

    • Jann

      Aysha–no one is walking on this street because they’d get hit. (There are steps down to various piazzas from this street, so people use those instead of walking in the street.)

  • cemal

    Hey, Jann, there was once a car produced in former Yugoslavia at the time of Tito, named ‘ Yugo’, so small ,the size of a big motorbike… and also Fiat Bis, produced in Italy…maybe for Sicily..Is it likely that they are still used by some fanatics….If so , why not buy one instead of having a dreadful journey every day….?

    • Jann

      🙂 I’ll see if I can find a Yugo, Cemal! Great suggestion. (But as much as I “complain” about this little trip, it’s really sort of fun, in a scary kind of way.)

  • joe girolamo

    Margo, Next time there I’ll look you up and I’ll give you the New York, Sicily driving experience. I’ve sure I could find some steps I’ve never encountered to give you that dangerous experience.

    ciao, joe g.

  • margo

    I actually like that kind of living dangerously, but I do remember encountering some steps and wondering if we were expected to go down that way (the answer was no). Take me there and I will drive you around.

  • joe girolamo

    Jann, Next time we’re having dinner I’ll tell you the story of my San Gimignano experience. After driving through many small alleys I make a sharp right only to find myself and my “Punto” going down steps, 50 of them. Lynn thought it was a kodak moment. I used other words to describe the moment. I love driving in Italy always an adventure.

    joe g.

  • Branka

    I’d never be able to pay for all of these windows that I’d smash into if I was to snake through this beautiful, old street. Jann, why don’t you get a pair of wings and just fly to your house? I’m sure Ibla has a secret shop where you can get some magic wings.

    • Jann

      Ciao Branka–wings would be great! I always get complete insurance coverage when I rent a car (better yet I just take the bus). Cars all over town are missing side-view mirrors or they’re taped onto the car with gorilla tape.

  • Bob & Marianne McNamara

    Ciao Jann,
    The trip through the Ibla was great. The only thing I missed was the city bus coming the other way.
    Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo. Andiamo a Donnalucata in febbraio. Force possiamo vederti?
    Bob e Marianna

  • Oh! I just realized I recognize that final intersection! I was in Ragusa in October and remember getting slightly disorientated right about there. (It’s all so much clearer from on high in the hills, but once you actually get down into the twisty roads you were just studying from the bird’s eye view the clarity quickly evaporates.)
    Sorry, just couldn’t resist sharing the epiphany 😛

    • Jann

      Hi Haley–The road in the video is has a “Do Not Enter” sign at the beginning of it, but if you look closely it says “for residents only.” So you probably took another (longer) road to reach the intersection that you recognize…4 roads merge right at that tiny corner. 🙂

  • Carole D.

    I love it! Brings back so many memories. It’s actually a very pretty road and pretty houses compared to some of the streets in my home town.
    For example, the street that one of my uncles lives on makes it impossible for anyone to get thru if the neighbors and visitors park in front of their house.
    You haven’t learned how to drive until you drive in Italy. It’s an amazing experience after you get over the shock.

  • So know what you mean. My driver’s license is now no longer valid in Italy. I need to completely retake the entire test and I am absolutely dreading it. I found it stressful enough in Alaska, where the smallest streets are as wide as the highways here. I find it difficult to imagine the day I’ll be driving in Italy, with stick shift no less!

    • Jann

      Haley–good luck with this! Gulp. I’ve known one or two Americans who have actually passed the Italian drivers license exam.


    CIAO Jann-

    Oh–this is great, and perfect all the way down to the cobblestones and the parked cars! It makes me smile! You caught it all!


  • Cathy

    Oh my gosh Jann, please tell me its a one-way street!!

    • Jann

      🙂 This IS one-way, Cathy, grazie a Dio, but there’s a final street I need to take to reach my house that’s just as narrow, and for about two blocks it’s 2-way. (And it’s hilly.) When I meet another car on that stretch, it’s panic city.

  • I LOVE this video! So much better to be watching it than to be white knuckle driving it–I was expecting there to be screeching/scraping sounds any moment! Thanks so much for posting and giving me a taste of beautiful Ragusa…as I’m sitting at my desk in Los Angeles.

  • I don’t know who’s braver, you or your husband!

  • Hi Jann, We just finished coming back to our apartment and traversing most of the narrow streets around Piazza Solferino and know exactly what you mean about about the streets. Unfortunately we are using a full size Land Rover instead of the usual Fiat Punto! This means that we fold the mirrors in and squeeze between the walls and the parked cars! Looking forward to meeting both of you soon. We’ll send phone number via email.
    Ciao, John and Diana

  • Yep that’s what I remember about Sicily…and the porca miseria…lol 🙂

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