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The island with the soulSICILY


The island with the soul

Article published in Motociclismo magazine in 2005.

Sicily is the largest region of Italy and the largest island in the Mediterranean. It has always aroused interest due to its position, the climate and the richness of its lands. A thousand-year history has left impressive vestiges of the various cultures that have followed one another.

In the itinerary proposed in these lines, we will go to deepen the knowledge of the western part of the Trinacria, as it was rightly called by the Greeks, for its vaguely triangular shape, starting from its capital to go west and skirting suggestive stretches of coast, up to the remains of ancient Selinunte. Cities, archaeological remains, landscapes, beaches, without forgetting the deepening of a food and wine culture that has few rivals even in such an aggressive, prepared and competitive national scene.

What more could you ask for?

Read the story published in the magazine.

Palermo welcomes us at the disembarkation of the Snav ferry, at 7.00 in the morning.

"At the glare of the sun, all the shaded facades of the houses appeared clear to us, with the tops of the trees, illuminated by reflected light, swaying like great swarms of fireflies" Gothe judged it in this way back in 1787. "City very easy to observe superficially , but difficult to know ".

An ancient legend tells that the city was founded by an unknown navigator, who arrived in ancient times on the shore of the Conca d’Oro. The fertile valley appeared to him as an earthly paradise and here he decided to give rise to a splendid city, such as to make men's souls vibrate for centuries thanks to his enchantment.

In reality, the paternity is attributed to the Phoenicians, who in the eighth century BC they founded the town of Ziz, "flower".

Surely a lot has changed over the centuries but the charm and suggestion have resisted the centuries-old transformations brought about by many different cultures that have taken place on the island and in its capital.

The points of historical and cultural interest are infinite enough to require at least a couple of full immersion days. The chaotic traffic, most of the tourist-cultural attractions well grouped in its historic center, suggestive, noisy and messy, recommend a mainly pedestrian visit.

We will leave Palermo, heading for San Martino delle Scale, which houses the Benedictine abbey of the same name, dating back to the sixth century according to tradition. A.D.

The choice will be rewarded by the view you will enjoy to get to Monreale: the road with narrow back will open onto the town and the Conca d’Oro, with the city of Palermo and the sea in the background. But if the view is superlative, what about the magnificent cathedral?

In one word: a masterpiece.

Dating back to the Norman era, it represents one of the highest creations of the Italian Middle Ages in which the expressions of Islamic, Byzantine and Romanesque culture blend. The gold-background mosaics that almost entirely cover the interior of the church are very famous.

But it's time to put some road under our wheels. The ss186 will take us to Partinico. The course is very beautiful and probably the quality of the asphalt is also among the best on the entire track. Better to take advantage of it without being too distracted by the beauty of the panorama that opens onto the Gulf of Castellammare.

Instead, the 15 kilometers that separate us from Alcamo are probably the least interesting, but the town is worth a visit by taking a walk along Corso VI Aprile, the ancient "imperial road", overlooked by numerous churches and buildings in the late Baroque style and neo classical.

The first archaeological site awaits us but first let's head towards the sea, in Castellammare del Golfo, in a splendid gulf in one of the most spectacular parts of Sicily.

But Segesta is there waiting for us, an obligatory stop in the regional archaeological panorama.

The center was together with Erice, among the main settlements of the Elymians, a mixed population of indigenous Sicans and foreigners, probably Anatolians, immigrants.

The temple is certainly the most impressive part of the entire site: incredibly intact, it represents the only example of an open structure known in the ancient world. Even the theater, albeit remodeled, is unique in its kind as it faces north, although here the explanation is very simple: from the top of Mount Barbaro from this angle you can enjoy an incredible view of the surrounding hills and the sea that can be seen in distance.

The ss 113 will accompany us to the entrance of Trapani, where we will take the first of the detours to the right towards Erice, a medieval village built on 751m of Mount San Giuliano, from which on particularly clear days it is possible to see the volcanic cone of Etna. An ancient historical center, it perfectly preserves its triangular-shaped urban layout, crossed by very steep and sometimes very narrow cobbled streets.

The descent to Trapani is beautiful for the quality of the panorama.

The Trapani salt pans, south of the town, also offer a great chromatic effect, the oldest as well as the last active on the island.

Proceeding southwards, the islands of the Stagnone form the vast lagoon of the same name. The visit of the island of San Pantaleo with the remains of the city of Mozia, the ancient Mothya, Punic and dating back to the eighth century, is definitely worth a boat trip. B.C.

The landscape in this stretch of coast is characterized not only by the salt pans, but also by the stone architecture of low windmills.

Marsala, rich in history, remembered for the landing of a thousand that took place here on 11 May 1860, is above all famous for the production of wines. There are numerous wineries.

The SS 115 in this section is flat and urbanized at the entrance to Mazara del Vallo, point decisively towards the town and once you enter the center, try to follow the coast road, always heading south.

11 evocative kilometers to get to Granitola Torretta with the road, narrow and with little traffic, resting on a low cliff just a short distance from the sea that reaches the horizon.

From here, follow the signs for Campobello di Mazara, from where an equally splendid secondary road, surrounded by hills covered with olive trees and vineyards, will lead us to the last appointment of the day-trip-trip: the archaeological excavations of Selinunte. Its uniqueness lies in the vast quantity of its ruins, from the size but also from the constructive care that all together form a result that is difficult to find in the Western archaeological world. If you can, try to get there in the late afternoon, the sunset lights are fantastic.

We are on the home straight, but this, we remind you, is just a suggestion for a visit.

Castelvetrano, a large agricultural center specializing in the cultivation of oil and wine, in addition to offering a fair architectural heritage, can also allow you to take the nearby A29 for a quick approach to the capital and its ferries.

What more can we say than to conclude with Goethe: "Italy without Sicily leaves no image in the soul: here is the key to everything".

We can only agree. And you?

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