Western Sicily is ancient and rugged, tranquil and sunny and a fascinating introduction to the island. It looks today much of what it must’ve looked 100 years ago. There are shepherds herding their sheep, stone farmhouses dotting the horizon and fields of marsala grapes as far as the eye can see. It is almost perfect and an amazing way to get a true sense of the island and its people. The west coast has some gorgeous water splashing up on shore and much of the coast is untouched with small Sicilian islands in the near distance. The west coast of Sicily is by far the least touristed part of the island and maybe in fact the whole country. It was a stroke of fate (or at least Ryanair’s crappy scheduling) that sent us to Western Sicily but I am certainly glad we made it for a chance to see the part of the old country that most will never see.
We flew into Trapani, a small, quiet city on the western coast where from the beginning good things started happening. Jake and I were standing outside the small airport after our flight from Malta and there were no taxis to be found and we would have to wait at least 30 minutes for the next bus into Trapani which was about 30 kilometers away from the airport. But there was a really nice young woman who had just arrived from Barcelona who came up to us and randomly asked if we needed a ride into the city in her fathers car. We were moved by the kindness and jumped at the opportunity and they gave us a quick tour of the city and dropped us off at the bus station where we would find out about the schedule of busses to Palermo for later in the day. We didn’t get to spend much time in Trapani but my first meal in Italy was an amazing ham and cheese sandwich from a place near the station and we were on our way to Palermo.
The ride itself was stunning. I was completely exhausted and am usually a cinch to fall asleep on any bus ride but I forced myself to stay up to not miss the breathtaking scenery. Mountains, fields and clear water highlighted the two hour ride to the the capital Palermo where we settled into a nice little hotel right in the center of town near the Teatro Massimo. It’s funny how much Italian I remember and how it comes back quickly. It has been 8 years since I was last in Italy and I haven’t spoken Italian once in between but with much Spanish recently I think it made my transition easier. Of course, many people speak English but it’s still nice to try and to practice as the locals appreciate the effort. I am looking forward to exploring the city of Palermo today as last night we just grabbed a quick, fantastic dinner at Trattoria Siciliana and came back to sleep.
On a side note, I did manage to see Maryland beat Cal yesterday. Thank god for streaming video and they look like they have a shot against Memphis on Saturday-so we’ll see what happens.