Sicily – Week 1

In August it feels like most of Europe shuts down for holiday. Luca and I were able to take a lovely 2 week trip to Sicily. We planned our trip thinking that our puppy, Macchia, would be coming with us. In the end, we left her with the “grandparents” which turned out well. 
We drove down to Napoli and caught the overnight ferry to Palermo. We used Airbnb for our lodging because we were able to find independent apartments with closed garden space which would have been perfect for the dog. We used our apartments as a home base to travel around the surrounding area. 
The first week we stayed about 20 minutes from Palermo in a small town called Terrasini. Our host was great and he had fig and lemon trees in his backyard, so he had picked us a basket full of the most delicious, juicy, sweet figs. 
We had a lovely view of the sunset every evening and were close to various beaches for when we wanted to take it easy. 
Our first trip out was to Riserva dello Zingaro. It’s the first nature reserve in Sicily and it was almost demolished in the 1980’s when construction to pave roads was already underway. We paid 10euros to get in and we walked about an hour to get to the furthest cove/inlet and then worked our way back. Unfortunately the whole trip, everywhere we went, was packed and overcrowded with people. 
 The next day out we drove down to San Vito lo Capo. It’s famous beach known for its crystal clear water. Even as we travelled around we overhead other Italians talking about how amazing San Vito lo Capo was. When we went, it was absolutely packed. We decided to stay the whole afternoon so we rented an umbrella and two beach chairs. Since the beach had so many people the water wasn’t as clear as we expected near the shore, but we just had to swim out a ways to enjoy the beautiful clear blue water. 
On our the way back to our apartment we stopped at the historical town Erice. It was a unique quaint town full of history from the ancient greeks to the normans. We wish we would have had more time to explore and look around. Erice is up on Mount Erice and so the views are spectacular. 
The following day we drove inland to Corleone. If you’ve seen the Godfather you probably know that Corleone if known for the mafia since that’s where some of the infamous mafia bosses come from. It’s a small town practically in the middle of no where. Driving there felt like we were driving through no-man’s land. 
While meandering around the town we came across the anti-mafia museum. We paid 10euros to visit and it was incredible. You can’t visit the museum without being effected by the history, the photos, and the stories. They have all the files and documents from the mafia cases and it was surreal to see all of these and know that most of the cases were absolved because of lack of proof. 
After experiencing Corleone we drove down to the seaside near Agrigento where there is the Scala dei Turchi (Stair of the Turks). It’s a popular tourist destination. It’s beautiful, but again with the crowds of people, it takes away from the beauty. We still had fun covering ourselves in the clay found in the shallow waters and taking a swim. 
Our fifth day in Northern Sicily we drove over to Cefalù, a small historical town. What makes this town particular is the fact that it goes right up to the sea’s edge. We wanted to relax on the beach and swim but this day was particularly hot that it was so uncomfortable and with all the people the water was pretty dirty, so instead we enjoyed walking around the town.  
Finally the last 2 days on this side of Sicily were spent in and around Trapani. We got to visit Trapani on August 15th which is Ferragosto and so almost everything everywhere was closed. It was great for taking in the city without a lot of people. We discovered that August 16th is the celebration of the Madonna of Trapani. So we enjoyed the peaceful city then visited the Saline di Trapani which are Salt-works. We also stopped at Segesta on the way back to our apartment. Segesta has the most beautiful ancient greek amphitheater I have ever seen. The Greeks definitely knew what they were up to.  

 On the last day we spent the morning at the beach and then headed back down to Trapani to see the festival of the Madonna. The legend goes that the statue was in a church owned by the knight Pisano in Syria. A bloody war broke out and Pisano decided it would be best to go back to Pisa and to bring the madonna with him as to protect her from the infidels. They were able to sail safely near Lampedusa but then a terrible storm came and they couldn’t continue onwards. They tried a second time but again there was a terrible storm.  There was so much damage done to the ship the crew had to rest and make repairs at the port in Trapani. After the ship was ready to set sail for the third time carrying the madonna another storm came and prevented them from continuing on to Pisa. Therefore they believed it was divine intervention and that the Madonna should remain in Trapani. 
   
 We watched the beginning of the procession, grabbed dinner, and then found a close up spot to watch the amazing firework show. It was the perfect ending for our time spent on this side of the beautiful island of Sicily.