Cross Straights of Messina to Mainland Italy

Trip Start Feb 05, 2010
Trip End May 20, 2010

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Where I stayed
Ostello di Salerno

Flag of Italy  , Campania,
Sunday, March 7, 2010

All prices in euros per person

We wanted to go to Agropoli, but the train we are taking today does not stop there. Get bus (.9E) to train station for 10:00 am train to Salerno. Cost is 38 E for second class and 50E for first class. We decide to go first class to see what it is like. You get a seat in a six seat compartment. We don't realize the seats are assigned. When the conductor comes, he punches our ticket, but does not tell us to move. Later a family comes and politely lets us know we are in the wrong compartment.

We stay on the same train all the way. In Messina (at the port), the train is moved onto a car ferry to cross the straights of Messina. I feel like I'm on the car deck of an Alaskan State Ferry. It was a very smooth ride and there were sfuggia (escape) doors. From the train, we walked up stairs to the ferry deck and got a view and buy a snack. “The Straits of Messina vexed Odysseus, the hero of Homer's Odyssey. Here at the meeting of two seas the currents created a whirlpool – Charybdis – which posed a threat to safe entry of Messina” (DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: Italy). We are now on mainland Italy after a month in Sicily. I'd like to come back. The first town we reach is Villa S. Giovanni.

After six hours on the train we arrive in Salerno, population 135,000. It is a 15 minute walk to our hostel. We walk along the car free Victoro Emanuelle street. This is a common name for streets since he was proclaimed King in 1861 in a newly united Italy. Our hostel has an excellent location in the centro storico (historical center). We stay at Ostello Ave Gratia Piena – a youth hostel just off this street. It is a Hostel International hostel, but there is no discount for members and membership not required ( Double private room with breakfast is $49. Wi-fi or computer use is 3E per hour. The wi-fi connection is very poor. Hostel is located in a 16th century convent.

Our room is simple but good with a classic view of Italian rooftops. There is a self-service washing machine and a place to hand up your clothes to dry. The down side is that it is cold. The central heating has limited hours. However, staff is very helpful and there are guidebooks you can borrow.

Salerno had Europe's first school of medicine which was at its zenith in the 12th century. There is also a medical museum. We meet a young lady working at Luna, a beauty product chain from England, who is here for love. She is living with her boyfriend. This seems quite common in the young people we have met.

Visit Duomo which is excellent. At the entrance a sign says “appropriate dress is needed in accordance with the sacred place”. This means “no low-necked tops, scantily dresses or shorts”. Downstairs there is an amazing crypt. It is located in Piazza Alfano. There is an electronic poker parlor opposite. Next door there is a free modern art exhibit of painting by Felice Tafuri. It is in the Tempo di Pomona. We also visit free provincial museum.

Dinner is 27e. We get ravioli in a cream sauce and polenta with four cheese sauce which also has ground walnuts. Both dishes are rich. We also get a simple salad and bread. Restaurant does not open until 8:00pm which is common in Italy where people tend to eat late. Usually I'm in my pajamas by then reading, on the computer etc.
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