Sicily 2019: Segesta to Trapani

After opening our trip to Sicily with a multi-day visit to Palermo, we hopped a bus back to the airport to get our rental car.  We’d spend the rest of the trip driving around the island.  On our way to Trapani, we planned to stop at the ancient temple ruins at Segesta.

But first, it was lunchtime!  Andrew had made plans for us to eat at a ‘home restaurant’ along the way, and we might have had the best pasta of the entire trip.  It was just as you might imagine–someone opening up a table or two in their own home to serve you a meal as if you were in an actual restaurant!  Honestly, it’s the kinda thing I’d love to do.  We had multiple courses, and as I said, our second dish–the pasta–was pretty special.  Andrew fell in love with these noodles, called ‘busiate.’  The sauce was a mix of fresh tomatoes, ground native almonds, olive oil, garlic and mint.  It was unique and fresh and bursting with flavor.  We talked about that dish for the rest of the trip.

Busiate noodles with fresh tomato sauce topped with crushed almonds at a home restaurant outside Trapani.

Andrew gave me a bit of background on Segesta during the drive there, which brought the Peloponnesian War to life.  In a nutshell, the Segestans formed an alliance (or so they thought) with Athens out of fear, but the troops never came.  Instead, the Greeks showed up in Siracusa and after a series of bad decisions, were almost completely destroyed and any survivors were enslaved in a quarry.  The temple of Segesta was never finished, but has remained intact.

The temple at Segesta.

Andrew and I took a bus up to the theater (I’m pregnant, after all), then made our way back down to visit the temple, finishing our peaceful visit just as multiple groups of school kids started heading that way.  Italians kiddos seem to be on field trips all the time!  Andrew and I always marvel at the neat things European kids get to see–or grow up with–right in their own backyards.

Our lodging for the next few days would be in the port city of Trapani, farther west than Palermo, which we very much enjoyed.

Trapani in the evening.

The city stretches like a hook into the ocean, and feels more traditionally ‘European’ than other places in Sicily. Its whitewashed buildings and pedestrian-only streets make walking around a pleasure. There really aren’t many sights in the old city, but we did pop into the Church of the Souls in Purgatory, where we were able to see a dozen or so small ‘floats’ with almost life-size figures depicting the Passion of the Christ.  Because we were there just a week or so before Easter, we even got to see some of the preparations made to the floats for the upcoming parade.

Trapani is, apparently, THE place for fish couscous, so of course we had to try it.  I was SO PROUD of Andrew for eating the (relatively large) squid.  I do like seafood, for the most part, but pregnancy has turned me off of anything too fishy.  Thankfully, despite appearances, nothing in the below dish was really ‘fishy’ and the broth was rich and divine.

Fish couscous in Trapani.
Enjoying the sea and the sun in Trapani.

We drove just a little out of town to see the salt flats, where sea salt in made, and learn the interesting history and process.  That same day, we also visited the island of Mozia, where an ancient Carthaginian colony flourished for a number of years.  We walked hand-in-hand exploring the tiny island and enjoying the sun.  My favorite part was the display in the museum explaining all the primitive ‘makeup’ the island’s inhabitants wore, based on residues found in old pottery.

Salt flats off the coast of Trapani.

Later that afternoon, Andrew and I rode the funicular up to Erice, which gives you a great view of the salt flats and the horn-shaped city of Trapani extending out into the sea.  We didn’t have much to see there, but enjoyed Rick’s walk and made sure to stop at Pasticceria Maria Grammatico. I had the best cassata of the entire trip there!

Riding the funicular up to Erice.
Castle of Venus in Erice. Because Venus had power over Neptune (the god of the sea), sailors would often “visit” the priestesses in the castle to ensure they’d have good luck.

After spending one last night in Trapani, we headed out the next morning.  I needed a bathroom (#pregnant), we we stopped at a McDonald’s.  We couldn’t leave without two cappuccinos! ‘Fast food’ is such a different concept in Europe; they didn’t even have proper lids for their cappuccino cups, as true Italians don’t rush their coffee (even from McDonald’s!).

Stopping at McDonald’s in Europe (usually for a quick potty break while driving) is always a fun and different experience.

Up next: Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples!

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