We find our platform and have a short wait for the train which will take us from Catania in Sicily to Salerno in Campania. It is an air-conditioned train of six-seater compartments with luggage racks above the seats. We have reserved seats and find that there are already two people in our compartment who look alarmed at our luggage. We have four bags between the three of us, three have wheels and then we have Jeremy's extra bag which is a really large sports bag. We manage to hoist them up onto the racks then settle in.
The other two get off at Taormina and are replaced by the Australian 'bogan' family from hell. Actually, they're not that bad. They just don't get off to a great start. There is a mother and her two pre-teen daughters and their bags are absolutely enormous. The first words out of their mouths are colourful expletives on seeing where their bags have to go. They only succeed in getting two of them up and the remaining bag sits on the floor between the two girls who promptly and loudly complain that they can't "sit like that for seven hours". "Mu-um! You should complain," whines the older of the two. Great! I groan to myself after enquiring about their destination. We have the pleasure of their company for the entire trip.
These are the type who stay in resorts and wear gold sandals. The younger daughter complained for the whole journey and when she wasn't complaining she was arguing with her mother about how loud she could listen to her music through her headphones.
The journey was made more 'interesting' by the air-conditioning which wasn't very efficient and stopped altogether for the ferry part of the trip. For the crossing from Messina to Villa San Giovanni the whole train boards a ferry. Although I would have loved to go up top, there is no way to ensure the security of the bags left behind so it's safer just to stay with them.
Much of the train journey is along the coast and at some places seems to run right next to the narrow strip of beach. Six hours later we get off at Salerno station where we are met by Andrea, the owner of our AirBnB apartment in Vietri sul Mare. Not a member of AirBnB? Join here. Andrea kindly gives us a lift to the town carpark in Vietri then helps us with our bags up to the apartment, about a ten minute walk from the public car-park through narrow cobbled lanes and up a flight of stairs. Andrea is already carrying Jeremy's sports bag which is heavy and awkward but when he sees me struggling up the steps he bounds down and relieves me of my suitcase as well. He shows us around the apartment then points out a package on the kitchen table which we later open to reveal a selection of delectable pastries.
We have no way of contacting Richard and Jeremy and are just trusting that everything went smoothly for their journey. After Richard dropped us off at the station he had to fill the tank of the rental car, return it to the rental office, walk across to the airport and check in for his flight to Rome where it had been arranged that he would collect Jeremy at terminal 3 near the wooden relief sculpture of Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. They will then check in for their flight to Naples, then find their way to Naples station to catch a train to Salerno and from there catch a bus to Vietri sul Mare. Once in Vietri they have to find the apartment. We just happen to decide take a walk down to the retail strip just at the moment that they are lugging their bags up the stairs so it all worked out really well.
Go to next article: Vietri sul Mare. Town of Ceramics