curns' corner

By curns


The first stop on the tour was at the temple at Segesta and, but the time we got there, the sun was starting to emerge from behind the rain clouds and it stays out for the rest of the day.  

Segesta was an important trading town. Even though it is on mountain slopes it’s close enough to the coast to support a port. It was an important trading place from the time of the Elymi people (early Sicilian inhabitants) through to the Greek and Romain eras.  The temple,  a 5th century BC Doric temple is in good condition.  It seems to never have been completed.  It is possible to see the bosses on the blocks of the base (used for lifting the stones into place but usually removed when finishing).  We were (almost) the first people to there today and it’s quite nice to get the place to yourself. Sadly, our tour didn’t include the amphitheatre and, in hindsight, I wish the day had been slightly restructured to give us an extra hour here to take the little shuttle to see that.  Regardless, a very impressive structure.

Next, Erice is  a town located on top of Mount Erice, 750 metres up from the sea, overlooking the city of Trapani. It’s a winding, mountain-hugging road upwards with some very steep drops. Our driver was excellent and took these roads at a speed that made everybody feel he was very much in control. We parked outside, what looked like, town gates and walked through the streets seeing the  city walls, churches, castles and cobblestone streets.  There are  breathtaking view from the edges looking down. We walked up to the walls of Castello di Venere,  overgrown inside but great walls. On the way, our guide, pointed out the doves and encourage the lovers amongst the group to kiss.

After a walk back into town, four of us (me, PY and and Chilean couple) said we’d eat lunch at the restaurant recommended by the guide and he joined us. I had the fish couscous which is supped to be a speciality of the area. It was delicious. We had an interesting hour eating and trying to have a conversation about language across two languages. Our guide was very fluent in both English and Spanish so it helped. And he had studied linguistics and so had plenty to say about the evolution of languages.  We left the group after lunch, chasing to walk around Erice and then stop for, what turned out to be, the largest cannoli in town. Delicious.

Our final stop was the salt pans of Trapani. We only stopped for a short time to see one of the last stages of the salt collection process - and to try to see the flamingos -  but there were some mountains of salt beside the road. Interesting that salt is governed differently to the rest of Italy because of the commercial salt production. We bought some lemon salt from the van.

We then started the 90 minute journey back to Palermo. We still arrived back earlier than we expected and so PY and I walked back through the centre, stopping to visit the roof of Chiesa di Santa Caterina d'Alessandria, a church overlooking the ‘Fountain of Shame’ from where the nuns and complained about the statues in the fountain. I saw an opportunity to head up for spectacular views and they did not disappoint (see extras).  We then headed back to to the apartment but decided to stop for a beer, or an Aperol Spritz in PY’s case, in the little square. The others, returning from their day at Mondello, met us and we failed to make plans for the evening.

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