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Sicilia – Part I

11 Mar
View from apartment, Trapani

City wall of Trapani, as viewed from the terrace of our apartment.

When I said we were going to Sicilia, Italian friends sighed, American colleagues raved, and my dear friend Nicholas whined that he could not be there too.  Thanks to all, I received some great advice on things to do and places to see. Sicilia is beautiful, to say the least, the people are friendly to a fault, and the food is divine.

We took our first flight since arriving in Italy last May. It seemed strange to fly out of Rome instead of taking a train and we were pleased to discover we had not forgotten how to drive, as neither of us had done so for 10 months.

We are staying in the small city of Tràpani in Northwest Sicily. Rather than try to “do” the whole island in one trip, we selected a corner of the region to explore. If we like it – and we do so far – we have plenty of opportunity to return and explore more of this vast and interesting island. With an ocean-front apartment reached via 60 steps (no elevator) we are living local. Luckily we didn’t have to haul our suitcases, although each only weighs 20 pounds or so, because the building has a rope and pulley system to assist in baggage handling. [NB: two-and-half years ago

Laurel in Lo Zingaro

Stopping by the grotto in Lo ZIngaro. People lived here as long as 10,000 yeasr ago.

we stayed in Vernazza in an apartment that had a climb of 57 steps. We struggled with that climb to the point that we really thought about it before we went up or down to minimize the number of trips per day. Now we are both in far better shape with weight loss (both of us), “new legs” and a gym program for me, 6-7km per day walking, and daily jaunts up the 64 steps to our apartment in Roma. The 60 steps in Tràpani are a piece of cake!]

 

I wanted to stay in Erice, a medieval town about 2400 feet abve Trapani, but Francesco, Rick and Jane were right to advise against it as a base. It has been encased in clouds for 3 days now. It’s much better here at sea level.

Erice in Clouds

Erice is atop the hill hidden in a mass of clouds.

Our arrival day devolved into a miserable rain and chill, warded off by an amazing dinner involving the best caponata we’d ever eaten, fresh fish, and a couscous preparation like none I’ve ever had, served with a whole roasted fish and a tureen of fish broth. With a crisp local white wine, we were satiated and slept a full 8 hours for a change! 

Lo Zingaro

Crystal clear waters far below the trail in Lo Zingaro.

Fortunately Sunday dawned bright and clear, so we headed to La Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro for a hike. What a beautiful and unusual place! It’s a little bit like parts of Hawaii with stark and interesting beauty, unusual plants, and ever-so-quiet. The water is clear with many shades of blue and turquoise contrasting with the lush green of a spring-rain freshened landscape.  I have not been anywhere quite this quiet (only the sounds of birds and the wind) for many many years. We felt far removed from our bustling Roma, which was the point of this vacation. Lizards darted across our path, and the wild flowers opened almost before our eyes

Lizard in sun

Little lizards dart along the trail enjoying the sun. So did we.

as the sun warmed the day. A half-hour or so into the hike, we encountered a small museum dedicated to the contadini (farmers) where an amicable man told us about the activities and dwellings of a typical farm family. We were his first visitors this day so he was ready to chat. My Italian understanding is really coming along, thank God, and we had a decent conversation. There is a grotto along the trail where they have determined people have lived for some 10,000 years. Amazing to consider how ancient this land is. Also, I got some sun as ordered by my doctor who thinks I need more vitamin D.

The hike was a good workout so we indulged in a fine Sunday lunch of fresh fish, fresh pasta, and an arugula salad, enjoying the antics of little children dining with Nonna e Nonno at an adjacent table.

Segesta

Greek temple at Segesta, viewed from afar.

Clouds come and go, with passing showers. The temperature is not warm enough for beach time, but excellent for exploring, so Monday we headed to Segesta, where we saw our first-ever Greek ruins. This is a marvelous time of year to visit without crowds or the dizzying heat of summer. We found ourselves alone beside the magnificent temple, in the ancient arena, and along quiet paths. The temple is huge and well-preserved. One can walk completely around it for an excellent perspective on the architecture. Built in the 5th century, B.C., it has survived at least three earthquakes, and has withstood the ravages of man for so many centuries, but the courthouse in Salem, OR, barely lasted a decade due to poor construction.

After an up-close encounter with the temple, we ascended the hill opposite (305 meters above sea level) where the city used to be, to the location of an ancient arena. There we found gorgeous views back to the temple across fields of wild-flowers in bloom.

Luckily, as this is Italy, one can get a fine espresso freshly pulled by the barista, and

Ric at Segesta

My favorite travel companion in the ancient arena at Segesta.

a freshly made pastry even at an archeological site. Try that at Silver Creek Falls or the Mount St. Helens.Stay-tuned. More to come….

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24 Responses to “Sicilia – Part I”

  1. Fractions of the world March 15, 2013 at 23:10 #

    I’m going to Sicily in two months, your blog posts make me even more excited 🙂

    Like

    • gooddayrome March 16, 2013 at 05:44 #

      Hope you get to have some “fish balls!”

      Like

      • M May 28, 2013 at 02:25 #

        Hi, I’m going to Sicily soon and plan to visit some of the places mentioned in your blog. If you have to choose between Segesta and Erice which one would you recommend to visit first? Would you recommend staying a few nights in Scopello? Grazie mille

        Like

        • gooddayrome May 28, 2013 at 04:56 #

          M – Segesta and Erice are quite different experiences. They are also close together, so easy to visit both even in one day. I am not familiar with Scopello as the road was impassable when we were there. Happy travels!

          Like

  2. Terah March 12, 2013 at 19:53 #

    YOU LOOK AMAZING! I would not recognize you if we passed on the street! Italy certainly agrees with you, Bella! Thank you for continuing to share your adventures. I get so excited when I see a new post in my e-mail. Brava!

    Like

    • gooddayrome March 13, 2013 at 06:41 #

      Grazie, Terah! I’d hate to have you not recognize me but I’ll take that as a positive. I think I need to have my passport photo retaken as I have changed a bit with the weight loss, working out, and new ‘do.

      Like

  3. Carla March 12, 2013 at 18:21 #

    Love your writing! Thank you for sharing your adventures!

    Like

    • gooddayrome March 13, 2013 at 06:38 #

      Ciao, Carla! Thank you or reading and for the compliment. I do like to write when I have time….

      Like

  4. Nicholas DiStefano March 12, 2013 at 16:10 #

    I am so happy you are loving the land of my origins!! Trapani is a lovely little city on the coast and Segesta rivals anything I have seen in Greece! Buon viaggio mia cara amica e tanti auguri!!

    Like

    • gooddayrome March 12, 2013 at 17:11 #

      Ciao Bello!!!! Grazie! Saluta anche Wally per noi.

      Like

  5. Gina March 12, 2013 at 13:41 #

    What a wonderful life you two lead. Sicily is beautiful! Laurel, I LOVE your new hairdo! Looking forward to reading Part II.

    Like

    • gooddayrome March 12, 2013 at 14:51 #

      Thanks Geeg! We ARE enjoying our life here…. Punctuated with work of course, but I do like my job too. You can’t take a vacation unless you have a job, I always say! You and Dave should come over and see us sometime.

      Like

      • Gina March 12, 2013 at 18:14 #

        That would be awesome! We might just take you up on that sometime!

        Like

  6. Susan Bravenec March 12, 2013 at 05:42 #

    STOP IT!!!

    Stop sending all those gorgeous photos and blog posts that make me wish we were in Italy NOW! We will be there as soon as we can, but summer 2014 seems SO far away!

    Seriously, what a fun adventure in Sicily. Wow. I know we will not have as much time in Italy as I would like to spend, so thanks for letting me live vicariously through you for a little bit. Give our best to Ric. Beautiful!

    Love, Susan

    On Mon, Mar 11, 2013 at 11:27 AM, gooddayrome

    Like

    • gooddayrome March 12, 2013 at 07:29 #

      Looking forward to your visit to say the least! In the meantime, I will continue the torture. Love you, too!

      Like

  7. Diana March 11, 2013 at 23:05 #

    I love traveling with you. I’ve been thinking of you as the Pope has stepped down. What an interesting time to be in Rome. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on what is happening around Rome when you have time to blog it.

    Like

    • gooddayrome March 12, 2013 at 07:28 #

      Thanks as always, Diana, for your comments. I am not a very political person. Being neither Italian nor Catholic, I don’t feel particularly qualified to weigh in on the elections of either government nor Pope. We watch with interest, however!

      Like

  8. Jane Norton March 11, 2013 at 21:54 #

    Beautiful photos and sounds wonderful! Want me to bring a bottle of Vit B pills for you?

    Like

  9. Deb Fischer March 11, 2013 at 21:42 #

    Oh, I’m so glad you are taking a break in Sicilian!! We almost did a trip there with a friend whose ancestors were from there. And, how is Rome doing without the Pope? Thanks for the blogs!

    Like

    • gooddayrome March 11, 2013 at 21:52 #

      No Pope and a government in transition: interesting times in Italy!

      Like

  10. Julie Peterson March 11, 2013 at 20:25 #

    You both look great. Life in Italy suits you.

    Like

    • gooddayrome March 11, 2013 at 21:50 #

      Grazie Julie! E vero! We are very much enjoying our life here. Hope all is well in Forest Heights!

      Like

  11. JOYCE WEEKS March 11, 2013 at 19:41 #

    I want to thank you for letting me feel like I’m a part of your adventure and I have to say this was the best blog ever. I could almost taste that expresso.

    Like

    • gooddayrome March 11, 2013 at 19:44 #

      Thank you Joyce. Nice to know you are out there following along. Hope retirement is treating you kindly!

      Like

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