The third day was the highlight of our trip. After having breakfast “family style” (which is everybody sitting around a big table filled with delicious food, laughing and chatting with the B&B owner) and picking fresh lemons directly from the tree (even the leaves smelled like lemon!), we headed to a place that is still unknown to the most: Scala dei Turchi.
Scala dei Turchi is a white cliff near Realmonte, in the Agrigento area. You need to leave the car in a parking spot nearby and walk for about 20 minutes on the beach in order to reach it, but once you get there you become fascinated by what you see: a huge, white and smooth cliff right by the sea, against the bluest sky (if you are lucky to get there on a sunny day). The kids climbed on the rocks while we admired the view and enjoyed such an incredible place. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay long, we had a very busy schedule that day, so we left, bringing with us fantastic memories (and photos).
Our next stop was the complete opposite: a very touristic place which was nice, all right, but disappointing after all. The Valle dei Templi features the remains of 7 antique temples, but only one is well preserved: the Tempio della Concordia. What’s nice about this site is that, besides the temples, there are many other archeological remains and the view over the valley, with the sea in the distance, is fantastic. But it was so crowded (note: it was the end of March) and hot (note again: end of March!) that I don’t even imagine how one can enjoy this place in peak season. Parking was another issue since it wasn’t too close to the entrance.
Fortunately our third and last stop was a pleasant revelation (at least for an archeology fanatic like me): the Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina. This place is in the middle of the nowhere, and still to this day historians wonder why our ancestors chose this location to built such a grand villa. Here you can almost breathe the glory of that magnificent time not only by admiring the fine mosaics, but also the structure that reproduces in a modern way the architecture of the building. When our visit came to an end (I was the last of the group to leave the place, and I honestly would have stayed longer…), we headed to the B&B Giucalem where we were welcomed by Giuseppe, who offered us some homemade limoncello and made us feel at home from the start.
In the morning of the second day we took the Strada Statale 21 Trapani-Marsala, known as Strada delle Saline. The Saline are pools of seawater used to extract sea salt. The landscape is very fascinating: old windmills, piles of seas salt covered by terracotta tiles, and vast seawater pools of different depths. After visiting the museum we continued our trip toward Mozia.
Mozia is a small island famous for its archeological remains of Phoenician settlements. You can reach it by boat, which we didn’t have the time to do, but at least I was hoping to see the antique road that, completely submerged by the sea in the 70′s, used to connect Mozia to the mainland. Unfortunately that didn’t happen: today you can only see it by boat.
After a brief picnic, we drove through Marsala and were lucky enough to stumble upon an Easter procession.
Then our trip continued toward Selinunte, where we arrived while the sunset was starting to throw a fantastic golden light over the place. The peaceful, almost magical atmosphere of the site made a huge impact over us. Selinunte used to be a Greek city right by the sea. Today it is a vast archeological park offering many remains of antique temples and the only one standing can be seen from within (which is something that is forbidden in the other archeological sites).
Selinunte was the last place we visited that day, so we started heading toward the B&B Baglio degli Angeli, in the outskirts of Agrigento. We arrived there when it was already dark, nevertheless we were warmly welcomed by Calogero, the owner, who helped us settle in and shared with us many useful information we used the following day.
I discovered Sicily more than 20 years ago and immediately fell in love with it. We were still living in the B.I. age (Before Internet age) and I had to rely on books and guides to make our itinerary. The result was that after almost a week we weren’t able to see as much as we had planned to (maybe also because we were younger and lazier…).
So when this year we decided to make a family trip to Sicily, I admit my hopes were quite low: Sicily is a big island and with so many things to see that I strongly doubted we could check off and visit all the “items on the list”. Especially considering that we were a group of 9 people (ranging in age from 9 to 79). However, to my amazement, we did it. And we even did more than we planned to! These are the memories we want to share with you.
We arrived in Trapani very late the night before. At the airport, we rented a minivan for 9 people and went straight to our hotel, Hotel Erice Valle in Valderice. Therefore when the first day of our tour began, we were already on Sicilian land. We had breakfast at 8am and left at 9am (this became our – strict- daily routine). The first stop was Erice. Erice is a medieval town on the top of a mountain from where you can enjoy a spectacular view over Trapani. The town is very small, we visited it in less that two hours, however it is definitely worth a visit.
Our next stop was San Vito lo Capo, known for its beautiful beach.
After the kids played with the sand and bathed in the sea (which is something only they can do when the water is still freaking cold), we ate a pizza by the beach and headed to the airport of Palermo to pick up Paolo, who was coming from the States.
Then we headed for Monreale where we arrived around 4.30pm, still in time to visit the Cathedral with its stunning mosaics and the Abbey with its magnificent cloister. From Monreale you can also enjoy a nice view of Palermo.
Our last goal for the day was to go back to Erice, mainly for two reasons: first, I wanted Paolo to see it; second, we wanted to experience the cable car. And so we did: 6 of us went back to Erice by cable car, while the rest of the group drove up the hill. We visited Erice by night, had a delicious (but creeping expensive) dinner and then returned to the hotel.
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