Seventh appointment with The Wander Playlist, just over half of our outdoor column that has led us in recent months to discover lakes and mountains in northern Italy. For this summer edition we’d rather to go southwards, among the coasts of Western Sicily, looking for places that despite our island origin we didn’t know yet.
Our trip begins in mid-August, with a just enough planned departure to let the unexpected lead us to take sudden detours and discover landscapes to be taken with our Lumix.
We load our countryman with backpacks of shorts and light t-shirts, protective creams and swimsuits, straw hats and rackets, we raise the volume of our playlist and with the wind in our fingers we run out towards the summer.
We spent the first two days to go around the Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Stagnone, a reserve that extends in the territory of Marsala, for a long stretch that goes from Lylibeo to San Teodoro and includes the islands of Mozia, Isola Grande, Schola and Santa Maria and the salt flats of San Teodoro, Genna and Ettore Infersa.
The “Stagnone” is a lagoon, the largest in Sicily, characterized by shallow waters, 1-2 m and often not more than 50 cm, which make it a small paradise for water sports enthusiasts such as windsurfing and kitesurfing.
We spend the mornings at the sea, and afternoons to enjoy kitesurfing or exploring the pink salt flats of Isola Lunga.
Then luck and chance give us an unforgettable day. My cousin Giuseppe, guest of a not far away house, manages to contact the guardian of the Santa Maria Island, the small private island where he passed entires summer with his grandmother to camp. The welcome of the guardian and his wife leaves us breathless. They come to pick us up in the morning with their small boat and 10 minutes later we dock on a small pier. The island is deserted, we are the masters of it until the evening. We have lunch with them and then we explore beaches, fields and cottages. Time seems to be stuck and we end up thinking about life’s priorities, dreaming of fleeing our city routines forever. We’ll spend the evening looking for lighthouse keepers’ads in remote locations.
In the following days we decide to go further in our car. We dedicate a whole afternoon to Erice, the ancient Phoenician and Greek city, perched at 751 m on the summit of the homonymous Mount Erice. A labyrinth of cobblestone streets and narrow passageways that only one person can pass through. The houses tightened to each other and the inner courtyards, protected by the view of strangers.
And then Gibellina Vecchia, the old town destroyed by the earthquake of Belice in 1968, left abandoned and home to the “Grande Cretto”, a land artwork realized by Alberto Burri between 1984 and 1989. A gigantic concrete casting that retraces the streets and alleys of the old city and rises in the same place where once there were the rubble, now cemented by the work of Burri. A series of concrete fractures on the ground tell the city streets and the horror of the earthquake, freezing the historical memory of the country.
On the last day we cross the tip of Sicily to reach Scopello, in the municipality of Castellammare del Golfo, near the Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro. Before returning home we stop at the Belvedere to take the last photos with a sandwich in our hands. The sandwich was very good, now you have to enjoy the shots.