| Part 5: Zingaro,
Trapani, Erice, Marsala
-> Riserva naturale dello Zingaro -> Trapani
Cortile Antico B&B, Trapani. 65
Euro for a very nice apartment on two floors, each with its own
bathroom+shower. Beautifully styled and decorated, modern furniture,
top-notch facilities. Kitchen area with large fridge in the lower
floor. The bed in the lower floor is a converted sofa. Flat screen TVs
in both floors. A/C unit which doubles as a heater. Very good value at
65 Euro, although the breakfast is not included. Located in the centre
of the historic core of Trapani. Fast WLAN available in the room. Very
friendly and helpful staff.
Weather: sunny, blue sky with a few
clouds. Cold wind blowing the whole day however, freshest day since we
have arrived to Sicily. No rain.
We check out of the hotel in Palermo and finally start driving at
11:42am towards the Zingaro natural reserve close to Sicily's northwest
tip. We quickly reach the motorway and reach the Zingaro area at
Pretty nice scenery and coast, although the parts of the coast which
are accessible are all private properties. The coast here is steep,
i.e. there are few beaches and mostly it's rocks which plunge into the
sea. Lots of flowers, despite the winter day.
After some photo stop here and there we reach the Zingaro reserve at
1pm. We leave the car at the big parking area and buy the tickets (3
Euro/adult, children don't pay).
The Zingaro reserve is a patch of
coast through which a road was supposed to be built in 1980. However
due to popular protest, the plan was scrapped and the area was instead
converted into a natural reserve in 1981.
The vegetation in the reserve consists mainly of scrubs, bushes and
smaller plants. Few trees are left here, probably the result of past
logging activities. There is a 7km long coastal trail connecting the
south to the north entrances (the Scopello and San Vito lo Capo
entrances). In addition to this one, there are also a couple more
The coastal trail is in good condition. The only problem is that the
coast is facing north here, so on a winter day, the trail is quickly in
the shadow. There are a few small beaches to which you can descend,
otherwise it's all steep coast. There is also a small museum with a few
exhibits of the local flora and fauna.
Hiking is good on this December day, However, since we have small kids
and it's already late, we don't get far. We just hike for a bit over
two and a half hours, then head back to the car.
We then drive to the nearby Scopello village, where according to the
Zingaro reserve entrance ticket seller there is a bakery with a very
special bread. Turns out that this bread (pane cunzatu) is rather
fact the lady preparing it, first empties lots of oil on it, then grabs
tomatoes and cheese with her hands and puts them into the bread. All
this without using silicon gloves, pretty disgusting.
It's 4 something pm when we finally drive towards Trapani. It's only
43km, but because of intermediate stops (lots of nice spots with great
views) and heavy traffic jam in Trapani, we only reach the hotel after
6pm. We must have lost 30-60 minutes in the traffic jam in Trapani. But
at least people here don't try to form multiple rows of cars on one
In the evening we go out for dinner to the Beijing Chinese restaurant
in the harbour area.
-> Erice -> Trapani
Cortile Antico B&B, Trapani.
Weather: same as yesterday: sunny,
blue sky with a few
clouds, cold wind blowing, no rain.
In the morning I check with the hotel reception what to do over the
next couple of days. Getting to the islands supposedly makes no big
sense because in winter there is nothing to do there. The receptionist
initially suggests Segesta, Erice, Trapani, Marsala & Mozia and
also suggests to have a look at the living nativity scenes near Trapani
(presepe vivente). For the nativity scenes there will be no time, and
in the end we swap Segesta for Selinunte which according to the
receptionist is far more interesting.
Then, since we haven't had breakfast yet, I head out on the streets
looking for a bakery and a food shop. The first bakery I head to is
closed today, so I start wandering around the streets of Trapani. Lots
of pubs, restaurants and cafes in this area, but it's very difficult to
find places where they sell food. In the process I run up and down half
of the historic core of Trapani. Finally I find the bakery and some
food shop and head back to the hotel.
Around 12pm we have some sort of late breakfast/lunch, then leave the
room. Following the instructions of the hotel we drive until the end of
Fardella street and reach the base station of the cablecar to Erice.
The tickets to Erice cost 6.50 Euro for an adult and 4 Euro for a child.
Erice is an ancient city, dating back to Greek times, built on a
hilltop at 700m of altitude. It's supposed to be an interesting place
from what I read. The cablecar trip takes about 10 minutes and offers
nice view of the area. I notice that there is also a road connecting
Trapani with Erice, so, well, I could have saved those 21 Euros.
From the hill station of the cablecar which we reach at 1:30pm, it's a
100m walk to the gate of the city of Erice. The entire city is walled
and looks like the typical Italian medieval city.
Erice is kind of cute, but lacks colours, i.e. all buildings have the
same grey-light brown colour. There is not a single building which is
really impressive, such as a cathedral or castle for instance, also no
big photogenic square. There are a few churches, the ruins of a
medieval castle, but for the rest it's all narrow alleys criss-crossing
each other. In a number of alleys there are souvenir shops, cafes and
After exploring Erice for about 45 minutes (it's not a big place) and
concluding that we have seen the highlights, we head to a cafe where
Shirley and the kids have some simple lunch.
At 3pm we take the cablecar down to Trapani and then drive into town.
We leave the car in a parking near Vittorio Veneto square (50
cents/hour, after 8pm and on public holidays the parking is free) and
the historic core of Trapani.
We stop in a place for a yogurt shake, then continue walking
around the historic centre. It's sort of cute, with its baroque and
19th century buildings, Parts of it are pedestrian areas. A few
churches are nice, especially the facade of the cathedral.
Otherwise it is problematic walking in those narrow alleys. When a car
is coming you have to squeeze against the wall or find a niche and let
the car pass.
Around 6pm we buy some food in a Conad supermarket. This evening most
restaurants offer the "cenone" sort of a big end-year dinner, with lots
of dishes, quite expensive. To avoid wasting time finding a restaurant
offering à-la-carte meals, we simply cook some noodles at home and eat
those for dinner.
It's also quite cheaper: for the pasta with tomato sauce we pay about 4
Euro for the four of us, while in a restaurant a pasta dish for one
person starts at 8-9 Euro to which you have to add 1-3 Euro of coperto
per person, i.e. your spend 25-30 Euro for a very simple dinner
for four persons.
We spend the evening in the hotel.
-> Marsala -> Trapani
Cortile Antico B&B, Trapani.
Weather: mostly overcast today, some
sunshine every now and then, some rain in Marsala around 2pm.
We manage to get out of the hotel only after 12pm. We get to the car
and drive to Marsala, with the idea of visiting Mozia island first and
then heading to Marsala.
On the way we stop at the salt pans near Trapani, more specifically at
the Salt Museum in Nubia. It turns out that this salt museum is just a
restaurant or maybe the salt museum is closed and only the attached
restaurant is open.
Still, the view is pretty cool. Salt evaporation ponds everywhere, salt
heaps partially covered with tiles, wind mills. I explain to the kids
how salt production works.
After the salt museum, at 1pm we continue driving towards Marsala.
Shortly before Marsala we take a small detour to the island of Mozia.
We manage to get there at 1:40pm. Turns out that it's not possible to
get to Mozia, because there is no boat (apparently today the boat
service only runs until 1pm). But it seems we are not the only ones
trying to get to Mozia, as there are also other tourists trying to get
So, after a brief stop, we continue driving towards Marsala, along the
coastal road. The salt pan scenery here is more photogenic than the one
in Nubia: more salt pans, more salt heaps etc. Open spaces of water,
boats. This must be a cool place on a summer evening.
Since it is raining, we lose some time wondering where to go. Actually
Shirley would like to have some lunch, so we initially head to a
pizzeria only to find out that today they only serve a fixed menu at 20
Euro/person and no pizza. It then stops raining, so we leave the car
outside Porta Nuova (the western gate of Marsala).
We enter the historic core of Marsala and look for a cafe or simple
restaurant where to have a small thing. It's 2:30pm and it's too late
to have a real lunch now anyway.
The historic centre of Marsala is relatively unimpressive. Only one
square with the main church is interesting, otherwise it's all either
modern buildings or relatively simple square block buildings.
Turns out that everything is closed today. All shops, all cafes, most
restaurants. Marsala is like a ghost city. We find an open pastry shop,
but the kids are not in a mode to have something sweet, so we continue
In another restaurant they have a fixed menu for 40 Euro/person. It
seems that today, on the first of the year, people in Marsala have a
lavish lunch, perhaps to celebrate the new year.
In the end we eat something at the Luna Rossa restaurant. Actually they
are closing, because it's already 3pm, and most of the dishes on the
menu are not available today. But after a brief discussion they tell us
they can make spaghetti alle vongole and tagliatelle with red
So we order that. Actually the staff is quite friendly, but my noodles
which at 13 Euro are not exactly cheap are quite tasteless. They use
spaghetti noodles instead of tagliatelle, lots of oil, but the whole
thing has almost no taste.
I'm starting to wonder if Sicilians know how to cook, because so far
the local food we have tried out has been far from impressive. Quite
pricey, but not good at all.
After this meal, it's 4:15pm. We still walk a bit around Marsala, then
head back to the car.
We drive back to Trapani slowly along the coastal road. Now the sun has
come out and it's beautiful sunset colours on the salt pans. After a
few stops we reach the hotel at 6pm.