Cefalu, a fishing little town, is known as the “pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea”, for its rich history, cathedral, churches, and adorable Mediterranean cobbled streets converted into a pedestrian zone.
I warned A.: “We can NOT enter Cefalu by car. We'll have to walk! I'm sorry, I know it's as hot as in hell but Cefalu is a must!”.
Our hotel was on the outsides of Cefalu, so we could've gone to Cefalu at night when it's colder, but I couldn't take that risk…
Namely, there's that famous little store, “La Coppola"… selling the original, handmade Sicilian hat, the one all the Mafiosi (and not Mafiosi) wear. If we went at night time and it was closed, it would die.
I was going to carry Gucci so he wouldn't suffer but A. was going to walk in the hot sun even if I was going to drag him.
On our way to Cefalu, a few fires broke out. As far as we could see the mountains were burning. In the middle of the fire, was our hotel.
The police diverted us out of the main road:
“100 meters from here there's a bar. Have some coffee.”
“Ehmm, ok, a coffee, but then what…?”
“ Just have a coffee, in 15 minutes maybe you can continue to your hotel.”
We were suspiciously looking at the burning mountain.
“Maybe 30! I can't be sure!”
30 minutes?! My question was if he thought the fire would be shut down this week! 30 minutes…? A fire isn't a barbecue to be shut down when the steak is done! People fight fire for weeks!
While driving in the direction of the, by the policeman recommended, coffee, we saw a parallel road to Cefalu and our hotel. A road to hell in flames.
Let's be stupid tourists and see how far we can go till the firemen stop us… like in normal countries…? Well, there's nothing normal in Sicily… no one stopped us. No one even looked at us.
In Croatia whenever I tried to sneak up by the firemen because I knew 20 meters away I could turn on left,…. and come home from the other side,… they would stop me, scream at me, threaten me by calling the police,…
Not on Sicily. They tell you to have some coffee and then they ignore you.
We entered Cefalu… instead of millions of tourists… we were alone.
We entered the pedestrian zone by car, knowing the policemen were with the firemen and not after some idiots driving around the pedestrian zone. We parked in front of the Cathedral and had our coffee surrounded by smoke and ash.
We drove to “La Coppola" store, closed, because the owner wasn't able to come from Palermo, because of the fire. Damned, we had to come back again to buy that hat.
I called our hotel owner to tell her we were there, but so was the fire, and we would've searched for another hotel, outside of the fire preferably…
She was equally cool as the policeman:
“I know there's fire, they don't let me go home from Palermo.”
“What should we do? What are YOU going to do?”
“Wait. Just wait. We're all waiting. Have a coffee.”
No kidding. Again?
“But, then what?”
“Nothing, when it's shut down, come to the hotel, I'll be waiting for you, it doesn't matter what time.”
“But…, you think they'll shut it down?”
“Of course, they will! They HAVE TO!!!”
“What do you mean by “they have to”…?!”
“Well, they HAVE TO shut the fire down! People HAVE TO go home to SLEEP!”
In the middle of all that ash and smoke, we were laughing our butts off! The firemen better knew what they were doing and better be doing it before dinner time! I love those crazy Sicilians!
Indeed, 2 hours after, the firemen shut the fire down, like a barbecue.
We were driving through embers and there was still some fire on both sides of the road. No one was controlling it. Obviously, the firemen also “had to go home to sleep”!
In Croatia, all men protect their houses, vineyards, olives,… from the fire. When it's over, they watch over the focal points for days, because often it activates again. In Sicily, everyone's drinking coffee waiting for the firemen to do their job. Incredible.
We spent 3 days there, driving the same road. All that time, there was a broken, half-burned utility pole hanging in the air over the road, held just by electrical cables, swinging in the wind. No one seemed bothered, there was no warning, no police, no electricians trying to fix it… maybe it's still there.
On the fourth day the smoke was gone and everybody noticed my dog was white and I was blonde and not covered by ashes like Cinderella and her pigeon.
A. didn't have that problem, he's bold so he just swept his head with a broom.