Marsala: Timing is everything.

We decided to day-trip to the town of Marsala on day two, the region of Sicily known for its wine. We slept well, woke up early, and were looking to have a great start to the day… until it began to crumble within the hour.

We got bad instructions from the Informazione booth and waited endlessly (or 45 minutes… same thing) for the notorious Bus 102 (which I still have never seen around the city) that was supposedly arriving every 11 minutes. We eyeballed other people that we decided must also be waiting for the same bus, but after losing ‘old man,’ ‘pink jacket,’ and ‘business man with flashy briefcase,’ we gave up and re-explored our options. We learned we could actually catch a bus directly to Marsala… leaving in 10 minutes.

By the time we found the correct ticket office (there were 6 or 7 different company offices stretched across multiple blocks), people were boarding the bus. I called for Jenn, who was across the way being gripped by an old Sicilian woman trying to ask her questions, and we decided she should hold the driver while I ran to get the tickets. Wasting valuable time in a line, I finally got to the window and was able to hurriedly request the tickets… in very broken Italian. Of course, this is when two older women tornado in the office with some apparently more urgent request, thus I’m more delayed. Finally getting the price I’m waiting for the very slow computer and very slow printer to produce the much desired tickets… while time keeps ticking. Jenn suddenly sprints in the office like a sitcom character shouting, ‘Due minuti, due minuti!‘… throws a 20 euro note on the window and sprints out as fast as she arrived. 😉 Finally, the tickets print after the longest minute ever and I fly on to the bus with seconds to spare.

Marsala… deserted during siesta

We settle into our seats, only to be kicked out later when we realize there are assigned seats. To the back of the bus we go noting that “Wait.. there are seat numbers?… And we got the last two seats?… In the last minute before departure?” Lovely… I suppose. Lucky… probably.

*Note to self – Research Cefalu’ departures before tomorrow.

2 1/2 hours through the Sicilian countryside and coastline and we’re in Marsala. First impressions: It is an unattractive town on a very unattractive harbor. It is not pretty, but it is home to multiple wineries and the region is known for its wine… that’s a good enough reason, no?

After a lunch, sampling the local aracino I’ve seen all over Palermo, which is essentially a lightly fried ball of risotto, prosciutto and cheese. We walk to the popular Cantine Florio, but the English tour isn’t for 2 hours so we make our way to another winery… that happens to be on the complete opposite side of town. A 30 minute stride took us to a more charming part of town. (it was siesta time so everything was closed on the carless promenade) with a small departure around a few oddly placed, inflated igloos (Igloos? Yes! Why? No idea.) and a mini-stroll along a garden I can’t pass up… and we find ourselves entering the Pellegrino winery just in time to join a tour group. Literally… as they walked in. Timing is everything. We couldn’t have planned that if we tried. Our new elderly tour group of tourists from New Jersey and New York was soon joined by a small group of American students studying in Florence. We learn the students came to Marsala for the beach… the beach? I don’t think they Googled ‘Marsala’ even once, if they came for the beach.

Like we had all the time in the world…

We enjoyed the tour… and really enjoyed the wine tasting and we soon back at the bus station with minutes to spare before the next departure. Of course, minutes… do we expect anything else?

While we had to wait too long for the damned Bus 102… we really didn’t wait for anything following. I would’ve enjoyed not having that ‘we’re-going-to-be-late’ pace much of the day… but luckily… it worked out quite well each time.

Marsala redeemed itself… enough, and the sunset on the way home was beautiful.

5 responses to “Marsala: Timing is everything.

  1. Wow..I would’ve had major anxiety. It’s amazing how things just fell in perfect timing..phew!! Sounds like it’s all part of the experience. 🙂

  2. Oh, you had the quintessential Sicilian travel experience!
    The very first time I came the SIcily, I needed a coach from Palermo to the airport and I was told to buy my ticket from a man, in a car parked on a street corner. He had no uniform or anything. I handed over my money, feeling extremely anxious, and it actually did turn out he was the official ticket seller.
    Interesting that Marsala is ugly. In 8 years I still haven’t managed to persuade my husband to take me there. I thought it would be really nice, with all the wineries and the salt making places. Maybe I’ll stop pestering him!


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