Beaches, Windmills and The Saga of the Toilet

Iggy the Hymer has left the mystical isle of Sicily behind him and is resting up on a black Calabrian beach at Gizzeria Lido.  (N38.9275  E16.216)  Behind us waits the free toll road to whisk us high through the mountains.  Flying on stilt roads and delving like dwarves through tunnel after mile long tunnel.  Up and away from this western Tyrrhenian sea spilling it’s white foam on the black shingle.  And back down on the other side to the Ionian, whispering of Greece in our ears as we trace the coast of Puglia.  Italy’s heel and home to the adorable Trulli houses I’m so looking forward to seeing.

Are you SURE the waves won’t come up this far??

It all sounds wonderful doesn’t it?  And I’m sure it will be.  But a part of me would quite like to spend a few days just sitting here by this beach.  Gazing out to sea, back towards Sicily in quiet melancholia at saying goodbye.  Instead I shall write out our last few days here for you to read, get Iggy roadworthy, and head out over those mountains.  Melancholia may sound romantic, but for every beach and town behind me there are many more ahead.  Carrying on is a choice we made freely, and the sadness of leaving is just a reflection of how much happiness we felt there.  Lucky sods is what we are, and that needs no melancholia!  Rather a smile of thanks at that little tug of sadness to be gone.

Why am I leaving?? Ah Sicily…

I left you all a few days ago back in Campofelice di Roccella as we prepared to make our way to Cefalu to meet up with Fran and David.  We met them both at Eden Parking back at Christmas and we were going to meet up again before we left the island.  We were looking forward to seeing them after our not so nice experience in the night.  Not to mention that they’re just great fun and two very genuine and interesting people.  We were so lucky to have crossed paths with them, and to meet up again so soon was a huge bonus.

I was also really looking forward to seeing Cefalu – even more so as we’d missed quite a few of the places we’d wanted to visit on our way round the island.  After Ragusa things just seemed to go a bit crook for a few days.  When we stopped at our pretty, wild beach at Marina di Palma all focus was on finding a place to empty our toilet.  Luckily we have a spare cassette – which will mean nothing to you if you don’t know about motorhomes.  Let me explain.  “Must you?”  I hear some of you ask.  Well, yes, I think I must.  Toilet talk is so much a part of motorhome life that it’s bound to come up from time to time.  And we all wonder how it works don’t we?  You don’t?  Well I sure did before I got one!  Now we know far too much!

It’s pretty simple really.  We have a very nice, clean, luxury wet room, with all mod cons including a very nice shower.  Where things get different from your toilet is we obviously don’t have a waste pipe to carry the contents away.  Instead they are deposited below in a Thetford cassette.  The cassette is basically a specially designed, heavy duty box on wheels, with very tight seals that keep all the contents inside.  These contents are called Black Water.  As opposed to Grey Water which is the water we’ve used to wash things with.  And drinking water to fill up our fresh water tank with.

Although we mostly find free places to stay we have to visit a motorhome stopover every few days to empty our Black and Grey water and fill up with fresh.  It’s usually possible to do this for free, although sometimes we have to pay a few Euros to use these services.  As we travel a lot, and we never really know what’s ahead of us, we carry a spare toilet cassette just in case we can’t find anywhere to empty the first one.  We’d never had to use it before, but after three days in Ragusa it was needing emptied.  Our failure to find an open Sosta or emptying point meant we switched over to cassette two at Marina di Palma.  So no need to panic yet.  We had a couple of days to find somewhere.

You can just spot Iggy under the ruined tower at Marina di Palma. Just before the storm hit.

Except the wind came in strong and hard on our first night in Marina di Palma.  Iggy took a bit of a battering on the beach that night and the wind was still blowing strong the next day.  It was a fight to get the door open as the gale rammed into Iggy’s side and we sensibly decided to wait it out before driving on.

Next day the wind was gone and we got back on the road along the south coast.  We stoppped at a couple of places and found them closed.  It was taking a lot of time dotting among them and we decided to only go to places that were near the main road.  We just didn’t have time to drive in to towns and back out again to visit closed sostas.  We were also not really feeling the south coast, and it seemed like a place that would be good to leave behind.  I felt a huge pang though, as we sailed past Agrigento, and the incredible sight of Greek temples dotting the scenery around us.  This darned toilet saga was starting to get annoying!

On we went past Mazaro del Vallo.  I’d wanted to stop here too but the sosta we tried was closed.  Next stop Marsala.  I really wanted to stop here.  Buy a bottle of Marsala in Marsala and all that jazz.  Nope.  No luck!  What was going on here?  We knew there had to be places around us to empty this darned toilet but we just weren’t finding them.  Near the Marsala salt flats we found one more chained and empty sosta.  That was it!  We were done for the day.  I was really fed up after driving past three places I had been looking forward to seeing.  We could manage one more night on our second cassette.  I wasn’t leaving here without a few photos of the windmills!

There’s no way I was leaving without a photo of these!

The wide shallow bay of the Riserva Naturale dello Stagnone and the salt flats outside Marsala are truly stunning.  If you visit make sure to wait and watch the sunset before you leave.  The quality of the light across the flats is just phenomenal.  It’s like breathing in magic.  If a pair of unicorns suddenly pranced, manes tossing, through the shallow waters it would hardly be surprising.  Such is the spellbinding nature of the place as the sun slips away to light up other countries, and other seas.

Most Romantic Place Award? Definitely in the running.

We found an incredible out of season spot to stay with a view out across the flats and the windmills.  There was an incredible sense of peace in this still, flat world we found ourselves in.  Even the wind was quiet, and the little traffic there was seemed to stop with the sun.  I pointed out to Jay that this was not a great spot if there was a tsunami.  I’m weird like that sometimes.  Luckily, Jay is used to this, and we slept like babies.

Travelling out of season means we get fantastic places like this to stop in.

Next day we must empty that toilet!

Fi. x



  1. I only stumbled across your blog a few days ago and I have now read it from start to finish. It is a great account of your adventure. It has brought a little bit of sunshine to the cold, murky UK. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much Howard! That means so much to me plugging away at the old keyboard down in sunny Puglia. It will soon be Spring back in ole Blighty and I’ll do my best to keep sending you the sunshine until then. And beyond I hope! Take care. Fi. 🙂 x

  2. Yet another wonderful update on your continuing travels Fiona and the photographs are stunning.

    • Thanks Dave! It’s good to know you’re enjoying it. I’ve got some amazing surf booming in a few feet away as I write this. Windy and warm in Puglia today. Love this modern technology communication. Marvelous stuff! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.