Saturday, 25 September 2010

Trapani and Surrounds, Sicily

Clare & Norman Castle at Erice
Foot Bridge and paved streets Gothic Church 1314
Red coral decorations
Trapani Town Hall
St Agostino Church 14th Century, Trapani
Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, Trapani
Sandstone Quarry, Favignana Is
Old Tuna Factory, Favignana Is
Coastline, Nth Sicily
Castellammare del Golfo, Nth Sicily
9th Century Castle, Castellammare
Hi from Clare, Trapani and Surrounds Friday 24th September 2010 A VERY PRETTY WALLED CITY On Sunday morning we went into Trapani and took the cable car to the ancient fortified town of Erice which is situated 750 meters above sea level on top of a mountain overlooking Trapani and the sea. Erice dates back to 5th Century BC but most of the buildings today are from the middle ages. Three hundred people live in the town and on clear days the view is spectacular. It has many churches, a castle, medieval towers and lots of lovely patterned cobble stone streets (Photos 1, 2 & 3). The houses are joined together and have internal garden courtyards behind stone walls giving the residents total privacy. We were told by our friends Sarah and Chris on “Tulu” that it was a must see and they were right. ON THE BUSSES - SOMETIMES I’m not quite sure whether it was fortunately or unfortunately for us, but as there were no busses running on Sunday we ended up walking 5 kilometers to the cable car station and then after walking around Erice for a few hours we faced another five kilometers back to the boat. As you can imagine, we slept very well that night. Thankfully, the following morning we caught the bus to the Conte Agostino Pepoli Regional Museum. With the help of the Tourist Guide Book to Trapani we could identify all the important paintings, sculptures and precious artifacts. The pieces crafted from local red coral were interesting and certainly different. The coral reef was discovered in the sea of Trapani in the 15th Century and was in great demand for the next three hundred years (Photo 4). BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS We walked around the town of Trapani. It has a very beautiful old town with well maintained buildings dating back to the 13th Century. One of my favorite buildings was the town hall. It dates back to 15th Century and has been renovated a few times. The clock and the datary were added in 1827 along with the statues of the Madonna of Trapani and of Saint Alberto, the patron saint of the city (Photo 5). GOOD OLD LEO We also went to a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in the 13th Century Church of Agostino. There were many models of Leonardo’s inventions along with reproductions of his art works (Photos 6 & 7). I wonder if the guy ever slept, his mind must have been running at a million miles an hour. YUMMY ITALIAN FOOD Tuesday (back to reality) we did a few boat chores and met up with Sharon and John from the American yacht “Seraphim” which had anchored not far from us. We joined them for drinks and dinner that evening in the fashionable centre of town. They had been recommended ‘the best pasta restaurant in Tripani’ but unfortunately it was shut on Tuesday night. We had to settle for the second best pasta restaurants in Trapani and ended up having a delicious dinner, even though we couldn’t read the Italian menu and had to point and hope we got something we liked. AN UNEXPECTED PLEASURE So Trapani was a wonderful surprise and we thoroughly enjoyed the historic buildings, the wide marble streets with fashionable shops, the food, the people and the comfortable blend of past and present. NOT SO BEAUTIFUL Wednesday we moved across to the Egardi archipelago eight miles off the coast of Trapani. There are three islands in the group and we went to the largest one Favignanna. It was once a working island with the large tuna factory but is now mainly low key tourism and is known for its many lovely clear water bays. We stopped in a bay for a swim; the cliff face was sandstone and had square vertical walls. It looked like it had been mined in rectangular blocks for building. We noticed other bays like this around the island (Photo 8). The main town has the remains of the tuna factory and a prison (Photo 9). While we were tying up to the wharf the Guardia Penitentiary boat arrived. We think there was a new arrival as a guy was escorted to the waiting paddy wagon which then disappeared in the direction of the prison. After checking the town out, we moved to the other side of the island for the night and enjoyed the peace and quiet. BLUE SKY, SPARKLING SEA On Thursday we motor sailed to the northern side of Sicily. The area has high mountains and the coastline is stunning. Unfortunately the camera does not capture it as well as the naked eye (Photo 10). The weather was warm and sunny and we had a good trip arriving late afternoon. As we approached the harbour at Castellammare Del Golfo a guy from the marina came out in his dinghy to meet us. He told us we couldn’t anchor in the harbour and we had to come into the marina. We asked him where could we anchor and he pointed to a beach about a mile away. This has happened to us before and so we ignored his suggestion and anchored behind the breakwater one hundred meters from the harbour - nothing more was said but he does drive by daily to check on us. We went into the marina and met Steven a lone sailor from Melbourne. We sat on his boat chatting for a while before having a look around the foreshore. Friday morning we went into town to have a better look around. The wharf was very busy with locals buying fresh fish from the boats as they came in with their early morning hauls. It was interesting to notice that all the customers were men, there wasn’t a woman is sight. SPECTACULAR SCENERY The town of Castellammare is built on steep slopes connected by stairways, bridges and steep alleys. It is in the most beautiful setting with dramatic mountains all around (Photo 11). We discovered at Ocean’s 12 was filmed here and so we will be interested to have another look at the DVD and see if we can recognize some of the scenery. BYRON STREET, CASTELLAMMARE We went up to the 9th Century Castle which housed a wonderful museum where individual rooms were set up showing objects of daily use for blacksmiths, cobblers, masons, carpenters and tinkers in the past (Photo 12). They also had old household items and Andrew kept saying “we had one of those in Byron St” or “we had an older one than that in Byron St” I just had to get him out of there! Last night we had a gale warning, a thunder storm and plenty of rain. We will stay here until the weather eases. At the moment we are rolling quite badly and so I think we will escape by heading into town. Love Candy xx