It’s been a while I’ve been feeling quite guilty, having opened this blog and not having written about Sicily yet. The last time I went to Sicily (too much) was 5 years ago.
Personally and also after having worked there, I consider it the Pearl of the Mediterranean for its people, gastronomy, nature and culture. In Sicily you find wonderful beaches and blue and crystalline water; you find a green and flourishing nature in the interior, you find the wild and strong power of the volcano; you find 2000 years of history and culture: here settled down the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Saracens, Normans and Germans and finally it was the starting point of the movement for the unification of Italy; last but not least at all in Sicily you find one of the best gastronomy of Italy: a mix of culture, ingredients that sum up what we define the Mediterranean diet, Italian and Arabic cuisine mix together in a perfect balance.
There’s much to visit in Siciliy: north, south, west, east…put your finger at random on the map and not more than 50 miles around that random spot you will certainly have something worth visiting…
Today I’m not going to write about a random spot but about the western region of Sicily that I visited 5 years ago and really impressed me: Trapani region.
You can reach this province by plane, either landing directly in Trapani or in Palermo. In the second case organize your trip so that you will spend at least a day visiting the capital city. By car is the best way to travel around the island, since public transportation is pretty scarce and doesn’t connect well the island.
I decided to stay in a very small town that was in the middle point to the places I wanted to visit. We rented an apartment in Buseto Palizzolo, a real and genuine Sicilian town not so much touristic. One of those towns with its piazza and its inhabitants welcoming you while sitting on the benches from the morning to the night. Sicilian people can apparently seem discreet, secretive, introverted but it’s just the first impression. Once you talk with them, once they know who you are, they open up, become helpful and are willing to do anything they can in order to satisfy your necessity, they give to you their trust. One of my advice ( I learned it from my Sicilian friends) is to say “buongiorno or buonasera” whenever you are in town (where everybody knows everybody) and you meet somebody, it’s a kind of code of conduct in a “paese” (small town).
Buseto Palizzolo is one of these towns, with its piazza, its wonderful bakery, the greengrocer’s, butchers and few bars… once we started to buy at the greengrocer’s and started to talk with him, in less than 2 days everybody knew us!
From Buseto you are half way from many places to visit.. Let’s start from the beaches. Here’s a list to what I consider the beaches that deserve a visit for sure.
- Riserva dello Zingaro, a natural reserve where you can reach beautiful beaches on foot. Usually on summer time it’s quite crowded, my advice is to enter the reserve from the South entrance passing from Scopello. Here you will find all the information.
If you take the coastal path try to avoid the first beaches you find at the beginning, they are of course the most crowded. Take in mind that to walk from an entrance to the other it takes about 2 hours and most of the path is exposed to the sun, so take with you A LOT OF WATER and be prepared to walk under the sun. The entrance ticket is 3 euros, and the beaches are wild and don’t offer any facilities.
2. SCOPELLO. You will just pass by Scopello while going to the reserve. It’s a very picturesque and tiny town that after a day on the beach deserves a compulsory visit. The beaches are quite small and are most made of stones and rocks. The most suggestive is the beach on the old Tonnara (tuna-fishing port). You usually pay for parking during the high season.
3. San Vito Lo Capo. This is the most touristic town of the region, consequently the most crowded and expensive but it has the largest sandy beach of the area and the sea it’s really beautiful.
While driving to San Vito, you will have to pass from Custonaci on the Statale Provinciale 16, once you exit the town you will find a big supermarket on the left, turn on the right and park your car in front of the bakery shop (hardly to see but you’ll see the cars parked) and stop there to buy your lunch. My strong advice is to buy the PANE CUNSATO (a sort of dressed bread full of tomatoes, cheese, anchovies, oil) and the ARANCINI (Sicilian Stuffed Rice Balls)…eat them after swimming!! In San Vito you will have to pay for the parking lot.
4. Favignana. If you spend more than a week in this region you will probably have time to take a daily excursion to Favignana, one of the Egadi Island. In Trapani you take a high-speed boat and in less than 30 minutes you’re on the island. In the harbour you can rent bikes and discover the small island just by bike.
5. If you are looking for a quiet beach even if not sandy you can go to Custonaci, on the Cornino beach. Don’t go to Castellamare del Golfo, the beach is not particularly nice and the sea is really salty, the town instead is nice during night.
Next post I’m going to write about the cultural excursion you can take during your stay in Trapani region.