Travel

Discovering Western Sicily [part 2]

27th August 2015

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about discovering Western Sicily: from Palermo to Trapani, via the ancient Greek cities of Segesta and Selinunte, the salt farms of Marsala and the barren island of Favignana in the Egadi Archipelago. Today I am sharing photos of the second part of my trip which focused on the northern promontory and the stunning beaches of San Vito Lo Capo and Scopello.

Scopello-Sicily-11

After 2 days in Favignana (beach, sun, bicycles, fish, gelato…) we boarded the ferry back to the main island and picked up our car from Trapani. Our next destination wasn’t far: Erice, a spectacular medieval hill town overlooking Trapani at 751m above sea level.

 

Erice-Sicily-2

We had planned to drive up to Erice, but the lady at the car park recommended us to leave the car in Trapani instead, and take the cable car to the hilly town. We trusted her, but we later realized that it was more expensive to pay for the car park (4) + cable car (20€), rather than just drive to Erice and park there.

Anyway, I am glad I didn’t have to brave the steep and winding mountain road with our big rental car. It was probably for the best, given that I am still traumatized from a near-accident I had years ago driving up the Rock of Gibraltar in a rental car with faulty breaks!

Erice-Sicily-3

The Norman Castle in Erice, also known as the Venus Castle.

As the cable car started rising, a thick fog enveloped our cabin while strong winds made it dangle from left and right. The weather changed dramatically from the hot and sunny summer day we had in Trapani to a chilly, windy, rather Autumnal day in Erice. I was freezing in a sleeveless top, shorts and sandals, while all the other tourists (savvier than us) were wrapped in puffa jackets and scarves!

Apparently that’s entirely normal: Erice is often covered in its own personal cloud. Safe to say that we couldn’t wait to leave the town and go back to the warmth of our car. It’s such a shame because Erice is beautiful and breath-taking, so I hope my experience won’t put you off from visiting it.

Erice-Sicily-8Erice-Sicily-4

The view from the Quartiere Spagnolo in Erice, overlooking the north-western coast of Sicily.

Erice-Sicily-7

After an hour of walking around the town and a stop at one of Erice’s bakeries to buy marzipan biscuits, we hopped on the cable car down to sea level.

Biscotti-Mandorle-Erice-Sicily-1

After a couple of hours’ drive we reached our bed & breakfast for the next two nights in Castelluzzo, a tiny village on the hills outside San Vito Lo Capo.  We arrived just in time to watch the sunset from our host’s terrace.

Sunset-Castelluzzo-Sicily-1

The B&B was quiet, nice, with a gorgeous view and lovely breakfast with pistachio croissants, but I regret not staying in the lively town centre of San Vito Lo Capo as our accommodation felt a bit too isolated.

Breakfast-Sicily-1

The ancient fishing village of San Vito Lo Capo is situated on the tip of the north-western promontory, surrounded by mountains that are part of two national reserves: Monte Cofano and Zingaro.

San-Vito-Lo-Capo-Sicily-8San-Vito-Lo-Capo-Sicily-4

Like Favignana, the town’s main source of income for centuries was tuna fishing, now replaced by tourism.

It’s surprising to learn that San Vito Lo Capo was only discovered by Italian sun-seekers about a decade ago. I wonder how the vast expanse of white sand and blue sea – one of the most stunning sandy beached in Italy – managed to remain a secret for so long.

San-Vito-Lo-Capo-Sicily-2 San-Vito-Lo-Capo-Sicily-1

The natural beauty of the area has now turned this area into a popular holiday destination, over-crowded in July and August. To really enjoy this region I would recommend visiting in early June or September.

Like many other Italian beach towns, San Vito is a place to completely relax for a a few days, forget about the car, walk from home to beach to restaurant to bed. Repeat for days and days. This is what summer holiday means to me!

San-Vito-Lo-Capo-Sicily-6

San Vito Lo Capo comes alive in the evening at the aperitivo hour. Many tourists come here for a week or two, rent a holiday home near the beach and spend their evenings sitting at a bar or strolling up and down the pedestrian high street, gelato in hand and kids running behind them.

Gelato-San-Vito-Sicily-1

If you are coming to San Vito Lo Capo, don’t miss the cous cous, the traditional dish here. Every year in September the town holds a Cous Cous Fest  dedicated to this simple dish and to Mediterranean cuisine.

Locanda-di-Castelluzzo-Sicily-2

The main attraction near San Vito Lo Capo is undoubtedly the Zingaro Nature Reserve, which covers an area of 1,600 hectares of soaring mountains and unspoilt coast.

Riserva-Dello-Zingaro-Sicily-6

The reserve can be accessed from two sides, San Vito Lo Capo in the north and Scopello in the south. Between the two gates there are several pebble beaches, connected by a 7km coastal path. You can also reach the coves from the sea: several operators organise half day tours from San Vito, Scopello and Castellammare del Golfo.

Riserva-Dello-Zingaro-Sicily-5

We left the car at the north car park (near San Vito Lo Capo), paid the 5 ticket and walked the entire track in both directions. It took us about two hours to reach the other side of the reserve, with short breaks to take photos and admire the panorama.

Riserva-Dello-Zingaro-Sicily-2

It was a tiring hike under the hot midday sun, but we were rewarded by the view of the rocky coastline, with limestone cliffs and amazing beach coves.

Riserva-Dello-Zingaro-Sicily-1 Riserva-Dello-Zingaro-Sicily-9Riserva-Dello-Zingaro-Sicily-7Riserva-Dello-Zingaro-Sicily-14

After our walk we stopped at Cala Capreria for a few hours to eat (remember to buy food before entering the reserve), swim and sleep.

Riserva-Dello-Zingaro-Sicily-11Riserva-Dello-Zingaro-Sicily-12

After two days in San Vito Lo Capo it was time to hit the road again and begin our journey back to Palermo Airport. But before leaving Sicily we had one more place to visit: Scopello.

Scopello-Sicily-10

Scopello is a tiny village of less than 100 residents (though they grow to a few thousands in the summer), located on the coast between the resort town of Castellammare del Golfo and the Zingaro nature reserve.

Scopello-Sicily-8

The town is perched on a plateau above sea level and is no more than an ancient a large courtyard (called baglio) and a few lanes around it. There are restaurants, shops and cafes. A path with steps connects Scopello to the old tuna fishery below, where the old fishermen’s cottages still stand.

Scopello-Sicily-4

We spent our last morning at the Tonnara di Scopello, the best spot to see the famous faraglioni, rock towers in the sea.

Scopello-Sicily-2Scopello-Sicily-3

There is no beach as such, just tiny patches of rock and a large concrete floor with free sun-loungers and direct access to the sea. The setting is so unique that I wasn’t bothered at all by the lack of sand.

Scopello-Sicily-7 Scopello-Sicily-5

Even though it was a Sunday, we managed to find a spot at the tonnara because we arrived quite early for Italian standards, around 10am. As the space around us began to fill up, we decided to leave and drive up to Scopello to get some lunch.

In Scopello you must try the famous Pane Cunzato (a sandwich with fresh tomatoes, anchovies and cheese) and Sfincione (Sicilian focaccia bread) at Panificio di Stabile e Anselmo.

pane-cunzato-scopello

The very last stop of our holiday was the large pebble beach of Guidaloca, recommended by our B&B host as the only beach in the area with showering facilities (which we needed before the long journey back home in London that night). I actually fell in love with the beautiful stretch of white sand and crystal blue water.

Scopello-Sicily-9

This concludes my travel diary of Sicily. I hope you enjoyed my posts; I loved sharing photos of a region that holds a special place in my heart!

Read more about my holiday here: Discovering Western Sicily Part 1.

You Might Also Like

  • The slow pace

    The water!!! It looks very similar to the cristal clear waters of Formentera. Oh and just that Pane Cuzzato deserves a trip to Sicily !
    ;)

    • I am going to Formentera next month, I can’t wait to see more crystal clear waters! :)

      • The slow pace

        Really???? You will loooooooooove it. We spent a few days in Ibiza and Formentera last year. There are a few post in our blog if you’d like to see. Everything about Formentera is amazing, but I would recommend Playa de Levante. It’s very closed to the famous Ses Illetes (it’s located in the same area but on the other side of the natural park) but it’s kind of wilder. Less crowded, quieter… it’s fabulous. And there is a beach bar called Tanga (not as famous as other beach bars in the island) where you can experience the traditional Spanish restaurant moment: super fun waiters, nice grilled fish, a little bit messy… Not so picture perfect but really really nice. Oh and if you want to go up to Pilar de la Mola, forget the bicycles. The road is really hard! Better rent a small car. As you can see I get overexcited when talking about Formentera ;)
        xx,
        E.

        • Thank you, these tips are amazing!! I have read your blog posts too! I am so excited to go now! :) But first: San Sebastian and Bilbao in a few weeks!

          • The slow pace

            Well, then you will be visiting the best parts of Spain!! I have another tip for you :) My aunt lives very closed to San Sebastián so I’ve been travelling there a lot!! While the city itself is completely amazing, there are plenty of day trips you can enjoy from San Sebastián. Hondarribia is absolutely beautiful and Guetaria is lovely. But my favourite is Valle del Baztán. That’s where my aunt lives. It takes about 40 minutes to arrive from San Sebastián and it is one of the most gorgeous areas of Spain. You can buy the BEST chocolate in Elizondo (Pastelería Malkorra) and eat the BEST “croqueta de hongos” at El Titi in Santesteban. If you have a car and a free day, head to Valle del Baztán!! Off the beaten track, beautiful paths to hike (I remember your husband likes hiking, right?), delicious food and the friendliest people.
            Oh the food you are going to eat… I’m jelous!!! :)
            PS: AS you can see I get super excited when recommending things about my country :)

  • Pingback: Discovering Western Sicily and its best kept secrets()

  • Eline Punt

    Those pictures are beautiful! Sometimes I can’t believe how beautiful Italy is. It just never stops amazing me. And this looks like another must visit.

    • It’s so nice to read comments like these, thanks! I truly hope I can show many people how beautiful Italy is! :)

%d bloggers like this:
Read previous post:
Espresso Cake with Bitter Chocolate & Sour Cream Frosting

Two weeks ago my husband celebrated his 34th birthday and, as per tradition, I baked a cake to celebrate the...

Close