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South-Western Sicily, the wonders of nature and the masterpieces of the Baroque


Sunday 19 july 2020

The coastline road between Agrigento and Trapani is not crossed by è huge number of tourists but it’s one of the most amazing areas of Sicily. Starting with Sciacca that combines its marine soul with the temper of an elegant lady.

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South-Western Sicily, the wonders of nature and the masterpieces of the Baroque

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The coastline road between Agrigento and Trapani is not crossed by è huge number of tourists but it’s one of the most amazing areas of Sicily. Starting with Sciacca that combines its marine soul with the temper of an elegant lady. The view over the tiny coloured fishers’ houses is wonderful and a stroll in the historical centre is what you need to discover the aristocratic palaces, their stone doorways, their wrought iron balconies and the stunning Baroque churches mainly the Matrice church featured by charming vaults, the dome covered in multicoloured fine pottery and the chiselled rose window. In the meantime  the blue sea is waiting in the horizon and the central Scandaliato square impresses you with its amazing terrace overlooking the infinite. After leaving the centre the pink beaches come towards you, on Capo San Marco beach you can even see the loggerhead sea turtles also called  Caretta caretta that lay their eggs there.

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The Turkish Steps: when the nature becomes a work of art

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From Sciacca, if you go towards the East along the cost in a few minutes you will be welcomed  by wonderful natural unspoilt charming landscapes starting with the Reserve of the Platani river’s mouth whose landscape looks like a painter’s palette: the golden sandy dunes, the green Mediterranean bushes, the white rocks and the different shades of blue from the river come together and they fall into the sea waves. A few kilometres far there’s another protected area, the WWF Oasis of Torre Salsa where the sea has Caribbean shades of colours and the beaches are surrounded by chalk cliffs and a lush Mediterranean vegetation. The white cliffs introduce the star of this stretch of coastline, the Turkish Steps, a stunning bright blinding rocky wall that stands out near Realmonte: this view has been captured in many stories of Montalbano inspector, the huge smooth steps have been shaped and carved by the wind along the centuries.

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Selinunte: temples with a sea view

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Leaving from Sciacca and moving towards the West side you’ll pass by the nice beach of cobblestones of Bertolino and the very long one of Porto Palo which is equipped with beach facilities and restaurants where the blue sea gives way to the temples of Selinunte, a natural stage where the history of the human kind exhibits itself. This archaeological area is protected by Unesco and it’s one of the widest of Europe and the massive Doric columns tell about the ancient myths and the legends that go back to the 7th century B.C. when Selinòn was a flourishing Greek colony. After visiting the archaeological site you can see the sunset from the mythical beach of Acropoli while the sun is slowly disappearing behind the temples. As an alternative you can sip your drink on the trendy beach of Scalo di Bruca, the core of the city’s nightlife or you can dive into the unspoilt nature of the Natural Reserve of the river Belice’s mouth and lie on its wonderful golden beach.

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From Mazara to Marsala: dancing paths and wind-mills

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If you move farther towards the Western side you’ll find Mazara del Vallo with its narrow streets in the historical centre and its Greek statue of the Dancing Satyr dating back to the 3rd century B.C. It was found in the sea by a fishing boat in 1998. Mazara is a place where you can also taste the well-known red shrimp, it is famous all over the world and it can be served in many different ways. You can taste it with the fish cous-cous, a typical dish of the area of Trapani. After a few kilometres the landscape is different once again and it’s an unexpected view: you are approaching the famous salt marshes of Marsala and the landscape is featured by piles of salt, pools of water and wind-mills while the island of Mozia is waiting in the distance, you can reach it by a motor vessel on a short crossing and you can have a walk in the nature surrounded by the findings of the ancient civilization.

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The hinterland: ancient traditions

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This part of Sicily doesn’t only offer beautiful sea views, if you want to move towards the hinterland you will have the possibility to visit two unmissable villages rich of culture and traditions. Caltabellotta is a village that looks like a Nativity Scene, it is perched on the mountain’s peak at almost 1000 metres of altitude and it is surrounded by a Medieval atmosphere: The Norman church is really beautiful, it goes back to the 11th century. Besides the view and the historical village another good reason to visit this village is tasting the famous ricotta cheese that is served in all the dairy farms that are spread in this area, it can be accompanied by the local wine, the home-made bread and the primosale cheese. On the other hand Sambuca is totally different, it’s an elegant Arab-Norman village featured by the noble palaces, the Baroque churches, the Renaissance courtyards and the Arabic towers that stand out by the narrow streets and the staircases. You’ll get lost into the several architectural details of this precious jewel.

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