Latest Posts
The Awaiting Table / Vino del Sud  / Bianchi  / the law and how to live with it: palermo to alcamo

the law and how to live with it: palermo to alcamo


I had noticed that the helicopter marked Polizia was flying low, and that I was zooming pretty fast. I’d also noticed that traffic was honking at me, in ways they usually don’t. Then there was a police car behind me. And another. Then one in front of me. There were sirens and before I knew it, I was on the side of the road, handing over my documents, my eyes still stinging from the wind, my heart pounding from all the police attention, and the fact that one cop actually unfastened the thin white leather strap on his pistol as he walked toward me.

Would you like to make a declaration, asked the police officer. You know, as Italian law dictates that everyone that is arrested can make a statement.

Arrested? I was lost, but clearly not doing anything intentionally wrong, right?

He flipped through my passport yet again as they all scanned my bicycle and my packs sitting on the gravel like a lumpy archipelago along side the road, the traffic flying by so fast that each passing car caused us each to shake and wobble at exactly the same intervals, sort of like watching the pieces move if you wiggled the base of a board game.

And although it took over two hours, here is the condensed version of conversation, all yelled over the roar of traffic:

Cop one: You can’t be on this road on a bicycle, you’ll get killed.

Me: Yeah, I see that now. I was trying to get on the auto-strada 113

Cop one: Yeah, you should have taken that one.

Me: I tried to but they are not marked. The maps aren’t clear. And there are no signs.

Cop one: Yeah, you should have read the signs. Why are you travelling by bike so far?
Me: There aren’t any signs. Last year I rode even further. Trieste to Lecce.

Cop one: Really? Well, either way. You shouldn’t be on this road with a bike. You could get killed.

Me: I see that now. I thought I was on the 113. I’m travelling the entire South of Italy to get a better understanding of the wines here in the south. And there aren’t any signs on many of the roads.

Cop one: Yeah, how come you didn’t take the 113? You could have gotten killed on this one. So are you staying in hotels or in a sleeping bag?

Me: Hotels. Eating in a lot of nice restaurants too.

Cop One: Really? My brother owns a restaurant near here. In the future, you should read the signs. You could get killed on a road like this one.

The simple fact that I was spotted by the police helicopter, dictated that I had to be given a ticket. I was fined, held for a few hours on the side of the road, chatted with the entire time, joked with and then given a police escort not only off the road, but actually up to, taken inside, and presented to the proprietor of the best local restaurant, Da Pino in the small town of Capaci. We all shook hands and then each officer took turns playfully hitting the top of my helmet, taking my business cards and planning tentative trips to Lecce to visit the wine school. They recapped, yet again, saying that I shouldn’t have been on the road, that it was dangerous to be such a road, that I could have been killed, then we all shook hands again and each car churned gravel onto the open road.

And just in case you’re wondering, I had the fish.

Silvestro Silvestori
Sommelier / Owner / Director of The Awaiting Table Cookery School, Lecce, Italy

Silvestro Silvestori, the owner, founder and director of The Awaiting Table Cookery School, Lecce, Italy has been teaching the food and wine of Puglia and particular- Italy’s Salentine peninsula since 2003. In addition to his knowledge of Pugliese food and culture, Silvestro is a nationally-certified sommelier in Italy, and a staff writer for Wine & Spirits magazine, covering all their Southern Italian food and wine content. He has also appeared on American, Australian, Belgian, British, Chinese, Dutch and Italian television, and Italy’s most respected newspaper called him, ‘A national treasure’, and ‘THE anthropologist of the traditional cuisine of the Salento’ for his work in preservation and promotion of Salentine’s food and wine.


  • Edward Kaulana Scalise Jr
    January 31, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Wow! Great story! What an adventure. One day I planned to visit Italy/Sicilia. My Fathers family is from Sicilia. Thank you!

  • Stacie Tamaki
    February 24, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Ah ha ha. So glad it worked out in the end even though you were on a road you should not have been on because you didn’t read signs that were not there. Love the picture.

Leave a Reply:


What do Insiders Know About Getting the Most Out of Southern Italy?

Find out, with our free 20-page guide to the food, wine, language, extra virgin, as well as insider travel tips. If you want to fall in love with this part of the world, you’ll need to to know a few things first. What’s worth visiting? What isn’t? And what should you be eating and drinking along the way.