I began bracing myself for the moment I left the warm embrace of the Mediterranean and headed for the Adriatic. From Capo d’Orlando I made for Messina, from where I was going to catch the ferry. I paused long enough there to visit Irrera and renew my passionate affair with the sublime granita di cafe con panna e brioche, to fall almost as deeply in love with a sospiro di monaca (nun’s sigh), and to satisfy my lust for Irrera’s incomparable pistachio and coffee ice creams . Ah me, what bliss.
For logistical reasons I’d had to leave Nicoletta in Messina to catch up with me later, and take the aliscafi from island to mainland. I was headed for Termoli on the other other side of Italy, on the coast of Puglia. From there I’d be able to take the short hop to the Tremiti islands.
So it was time to go, to say goodbye to the bosom of the Madre Mediterranea that had sustained me for the last three months (plus two from last year). Of course I know that the Mediterranean isn’t sentient, any more than Iddu is, and yet, just like those cool, intelligent, rational professional folk on Stomboli, I had developed a kind of relationship with Her. She had provided a fabulous seascape on which to travel, explore, experience, in which to swim, beside which to lie. I needed time to formulate my farewells.
But aliscafi ferries are busy, unsentimental things. They have time tables to keep. They carry their passengers irrespective of their emotional condition. Thirty minutes from Messina to Villa San Giovanni on mainland Italy. Chop-chop. No time for regret or mourning. None of the sentimental nonsense. I’d hardly got on before I was getting off, and suddenly, there I was sitting on the platform at Villa San Giovanni station, waiting for the train to take me on the first leg of my journey to Termoli. I didn’t even have Nicoletta for company.