Hitchhiking is a controversial activity. Some see it as the perfect opportunity for adventure; others think of it as an easy way to wind up in a ditch without their kidneys. If you’re from the second school of thought, you probably won’t like the following stories of girls hitchhiking in Sicily. Why? Because we survived and thrived, without any dodgy situations or blood spilled. If you read on, you might find your beliefs shattered!
On the other hand, if you plan to hitchhike in Sicily you’re in for a few helpful hints!
#1 Sometimes, hitchhiking is your only choice
As two girls, we weren’t planning to hitchhike in Sicily. Of course, we hadn’t taken into consideration the fact that in Italy, the term “national holiday” usually means “no trains”*. If you don’t have a car but you have an overwhelming desire to get from the town of Noto to Modica – the chocolate capital of Sicily – your fate is predestined and you’ll soon find yourself by the roadside.
* “No trains” is a collective term for “no trains, no buses, and nowhere to even rent a motorbike”.
#2 Nobody hitchhikes in Sicily, but that shouldn’t put you off
The first thing you’ll realize is that there aren’t any other hitchhikers on the side of the road in Sicily. In fact, many locals told us not to hitchhike because it was dangerous. This was perfect. On one hand, we are fearless in the face of the danger. On the other hand, our livers are already damaged beyond repair, so we doubted that anyone would risk much to take them from us…
#3 Sicilian roads aren’t as direct as you might expect
Sicily has just a few major roads, and many of the island’s towns are connected only by a spiderweb of secondary roads. That means instead of straight stretches, you’ll probably have to hitchhike in sections. We were standing by the road, the epitome of perfect hitchhikers (wide smiles, freshly showered etc.), and every fifth car stopped, but unfortunately nobody was going to our destination (only 25 miles away). Some cars even broke traffic rules to come and see if they could help. Others offered to take us to other destinations, but there’s not much you can say to take a woman’s mind off chocolate!
#4 Sometimes you have to change your plan
At the end of the day, hitchhiking is all about luck. After 30 minutes baking in the sun, we finally decided that we would swim naked in chocolate fountains some other time. Instead, we decided to head for the beach 6 miles away and swim there, rather than spending the day by the road.
#5 (For hitchhiking girls) Sicilian men may seem pushy, but they aren’t disrespectful
Two lads – local lemon farmers – picked us up and drove us to the beach. They went out of their way to take us there, even though it was a work day for them and they were heading to the plantation. One of them was happy to socialize (Why are you in Sicily? Why do you hitchhike? Where do you sleep? Don’t you want me to host you – I have soooo much space and my mamma will cook a feast for you…). At the last offer my friend dialed the number of the police on her phone and prepared to call it if necessary. No, we have a hotel room and no, we don’t know if we’ll be free tonight. Although the guys tried their chances, they weren’t disrespectful or intimidating in any way. When we reached the coast they still offered to come and pick us up from the beach in the afternoon, seeing as there were no buses or taxis to take us home. We thanked them politely and got out of the car. But, of course, we told the boys to thank their hospitable mothers for their generous offers!
# Extra tip: stick to the basics
Sticking to the universal rules of hitchhiking works in Sicily: smile, be neat, and choose spots where the drivers can conveniently pull over. If you are girls in dresses, like us, don’t forget to bring your backpacks so you don’t get mistaken for ladies of, let’s say, another profession …
Featured image: © Maria Angelova/ 203challenges