Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Day in Sicily

So we had a day to spend in the southwest region of the island of Sicily, and planned to make the most of it. First, we rented a car for the day. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that we could pick it up in Trapani and drop it off at the airport the next day. That was perfect since the earliest bus to the airport was barely going to get us there in time.

We jumped into the little Smart car we got and headed up the coast.

Our first stop was San Vito Lo Capo, which Stef had heard was a really nice beach town. It was true, the sandy beach was really clean and the water looked beautiful. Unfortunately I wasn't in the condition to go for a swim.

We walked around town and instinctively found what looked like the oldest bakery in town. We bought a couple paste di mandorle to taste and admired the pretty marzipan creations.

It was hot and I needed refreshments. I picked a gelateria/cafe that had oceanview so I could at least enjoy some of the seaside since I couldn't go in the water. Stef ordered granite with gelsi and almond flavors, and I decided to go with pistachio, which isn't that commonly found. I was rather skeptical... what if it was artificially bright green and tasted bad?

Turned out this was the best granite we had the entire trip. My pistachio granita was sooo good. The texture was smooth and there were small ground up pieces of pistachio in there. My whole view of granita changed: it was that good, you didn't miss any of the fat in gelato or ice cream. The almond and gelsi flavors were excellent too. We enjoyed it so much that we ordered another one to share. Not only was the granita good, the service was friendly, bathrooms were clean, and granita table-service was only 2.50 euro! Definitely a must-stop if you're ever in the area.

Gelateria La Sirenetta, Via Savoia, 2 0923/974386

We hope to come back to San Vito Lo Capo next time. It was such a cute and clean town, albeit touristy. We could see the town was gearing up for its upcoming annual Couscous Festival - there were tents already set up along the streets. Couscous is common in the region since Sicily is really close to Africa.

We got back into the car and continued on the coast to Scopello. Again the sea was beautiful, but the beach here was made up of tiny pebbles.

Then we headed inland again to Segesta, known as one of the best preserved Greek archaelogical sites in the world. From the parking lot, we walked up the hill in the sweltering heat to the doric temple.

It was an impressive sight. This huge structure built 2500 years ago! Then we took a bus up a bigger hill to the site of the theater. The view all the way to the coast was just beautiful.

Funny, this shot doesn't seem to show how HOT it was out there. It must've been 40C/100F out that day.

The archaelogical site was still a work in progress. There were some people working there, dusting away with little brushes under the hot sun. I felt sorry for them!

Here's the view of the temple from the theater. It's just amazing.

We still had time, so we then headed to Erice, a medieval town high on Mt. Erice, overlooking Trapani. Now, I've seen my fair share of hill towns in Tuscany, but this town has its own charms that sets it apart.

The cobblestoned walkways led us through the town. Erice is known for important scientific meetings that are held at the E. Majorana center, named for Ettore Majorana, an important Italian physicist who dissapeared under mysterious circumstances.

And of course we stopped at one of the many pasteccerias in this town. Stef had the 'genovesi', a pastry filled with cream, which a local whom we met in Favignana had recommended we try. I had a torta di ricotta with pistachio which was good too. (Ok, at this point, we were feeling the day's sugar overdose...) We also bought some sweet paste di mandorle to bring back to share with friends in the office.

The Castello di Pepoli was really well-maintained.

And because it's so high up, the panaromic views all around were great.

Another look at the castle.

Then it was time to leave. Here I am in our little Smart!

The sun was setting as we headed back down towards the town of Trapani. We could see Trapani below us, and the Aegadian islands of Favignana (on the left) and Levanzo and Marettimo.

We really enjoyed our day in Sicily and hope to come back soon.

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