Changes. Just like grains of sand, they fall through our fingers almost imperceptibly. And they do their slipping and sliding along the contours of our life continuously, so often in fact that we become desensitized to them. Not all, of course. Some are sudden and dramatic, shocking our system on an emotional or physical level. They come upon us when our eyes are wide open but still catch us unawares. I, too, was taken by surprise recently. However, it was a case of me literally driving into, and through, a change that took me down 20°C. About a fortnight ago, my wife and I drove off the catamaran at Pozzallo, in Sicily. Our destination, Linguaglossa; our mode of transport, a Piaggio Beverly 300cc motor scooter. I had travelled these parts at this time of year before, so I was looking forward to feeling the sun and warm wind stroking my skin while touring the country roads or speeding down a motorway.
The initial 180 kilometres were broken up with 2 stops – the hilltop town of Chiaramonte Gulfi, with its panoramic views, and Grammichele, a town with a hexagonal layout as its hallmark. The latter is admittedly more remarkable when seen from the air but still, it was worth a brief walk around. Back on the road, the 36° showing on the motorbike dashboard confirmed my climatic expectations. That further ahead Mount Etna was wearing an umbrella of darkly ominous grey wasn’t really a concern. It had been spewing smoke, spitting fire and rumbling acrimoniously for days before our planned arrival. Anyway, the wheels of the Piaggio were now treading on Etna’s foot.
Maybe the volcano took offence or maybe not. What I do know is that in the space of 30 minutes, as we scootered by Paternò, Adrano and Bronte, the thermometer dipped under the 20° mark. The denim jacket I was wearing was as windproof as a sieve is waterproof and the T-shirt underneath was equally ineffectual in protecting me from the rapidly cooling air. Then came the fork in the road just before Randazzo, the right turn leading onto the “Quota Mille”, so called because the road is roughly at an altitude of 1000m. This was supposed to be the highlight of the day’s journey, a spotlight on the spectacular scenery of the surrounding territory and a breathtaking entry into Linguaglossa. I had driven this stretch in my mind many times in the preceding weeks, knowing exactly where to stop so that my wife could take in nature’s savage beauty before being charmed by the quaintness of the town.
The mental director of those rehearsals had ensured that, in each case, the sun and blue sky worked in tandem to produce the ideal viewing conditions. However, as we took that right turn, change charged into control, hitting us first from above, with a persistent rain, and then from below, with a rising mist. These conditions coalesced into a figure – 16. Degrees. Celsius. Down 20 in a short span of time.
Down was also the direction the road eventually took, bringing two cold and wet riders to the door of Casa Mauro. The clothes were damp, yet our spirits undampened. After all, our honeymoon had just received its baptism and we had successfully weathered the change!