This year we headed south for the holidays, destination Sicily. I fell in love with this vibrant island on our first jaunt two years ago, and decided where better to spend a few days over Christmas with the Italian family, and ring in the new year. For part one of the trip, we made our home the city of Trapani at Sicily’s western tip. It wasn’t the old city’s charm that enticed us (I’ve seen better), but its proximity to so many sights and ancient ruins, not to mention the Egadi Islands. What we quickly discovered is that Trapani is a food haven, with Trapanese specialities including Fish Couscous, influenced by neighboring Tunisia, and Pesto alla Trapanese made with tomatoes and almonds. The many fresh fish dishes were exceptional and every day became a dining adventure, with local wines of course (my favorite being a red blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola grapes). Here’s a list of our top restaurants, all in the old town.
Antichi Sapori for the best traditional dishes (the seafood antipasti alone is worth the visit)
Serisso 47 for fine dining in an elegant setting (rumor has it the chef might be awarded a Michelin star soon)
Sood for live music and small plates of Sicilian specialties with a bio twist (great local vibe)
After settling into our apartments and enjoying the rooftop views, we took to the road. Our first stop was Scopello, a tiny village near Castellammare del Golfo, and what was once a tuna fishing port. The coastline was breathtaking! We also discovered that this is where scenes from our favorite Sicilian detective series Inspector Montalbano were filmed.
From here we drove to Segesta, one of the most notable Siceliot (Sicilian-Greek) ancient cities. We walked the path leading up to the Greek temple, a sight to behold, lit by the late afternoon sun.
Continuing up to the hilltop site where the ancient city was inhabited into the Middle Ages, we discovered the remains of a Norman castle, a small church and a mosque, and a classical amphitheater with admirable views.
The next day we decided to explore another highly esteemed archaeological site, Selinunte. Walking through this abandoned town founded by Greeks in the 7th Century BC, with its main street, homes and temples, you can imagine the life that once took place here.
The day after Christmas we headed for the largest of the Egadi Islands, Favignana, less than an hour by boat. It being winter and the holidays, the island was quiet and most of the restaurants and shops were closed. We did however find a bakery with some of the most delicious cassata and cannoli to date. (Read more about Sicily’s sweets here.) The most stunning landscape on the island was the little gulf called Cala Rossa.
My Italian and I climbed down the rocks to the turquoise water, completely in awe of this cliffside paradise.
On the last day before the two of us continued our adventures solo, we drove up to the medieval hilltop town of Erice. It was the people of this town that also built the town and temple of Segesta. I first noticed the Venus Castle, and soon learned that the temple of Venus outlasted the many civilizations who took residence in Erice.
The town itself is eerily charming with its tones of grays and cobbled paths leading to restaurants, artisanal shops and pasticcerias offering sweets made of almond paste. Here too we found a sweet gem!
Our final stop before saying farewell to Trapani was a Marsala cellar tour and wine tasting at the famous Cantine Florio. The perfect ending to part one of our adventures in Sicily. Next stop, Cefalù…