So after ending our mainland Italy trip we set off across the Strait of Messina towards Messina, Sicily. It felt like we were going to a completely new country – Sicily had always seemed to me to be separate and quite different from the rest of Italy – it was time to find out. The experience of taking the ferry with our car also made it feel like we were leaving behind Italy. When we landed in Messina, it was definitely still Italy though – horrible, horrible traffic which then frantically merged into a decrepit old highway with bushes growing on the shoulder lanes. So, I guess, in the end, it seemed like it was even more Italy than the mainland Italy.
We drove this day for about 6 hours or something crazy like that to the complete other side of the island, to the north-western most point, a town called Trapani. The entire journey was filled with spectacular barren mountain ranges and incredible azure water colours just off the coast. Sicily is not a very populated place except for a few towns and cities. One of these, Cefalú, we stopped at for a pizza lunch which was delicious. We will return here later. We drove through the outskirts of Palermo, a bustling city surrounded by impressive mountains and the coast – filled with high rise apartment blocks and of course, Italian highway traffic. As soon as we were past Palermo though, the traffic ended and we were back on the open highway.
Eventually we arrived at Trapani, at what seemed like the end of the earth in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. It has a rather large shipping port, and ferries connect to North Africa (Tunisia is quite close actually) and all the other islands in the med. Trapani itself is a very beautiful little town with incredible beaches, rocky mountains surrounding it and beautiful, beautiful sunsets. Like the rest of southern Italy, everything is very old and not in the best state of repair. The food and culture more than makes up for it though. Every day, the streets are empty, but every night, they are absolutely rammed with tanned Italians on their August holidays. The street food here is great – Arancini and fried seafoods with local beers and wines, delicious.
We spent about four days here, and during this time took a day trip to the Aegadian islands just off the coast – Levanzo and Favignana. We also took a day trip to a nearby beach called San Vito Lo Capo – more stories to come!