Going West

We’re off on an adventure – one we wanted to do last year but got ‘stuck’ in Passopomo – a round trip along the Southern and Western coast of Sicily!

Not far from Noto is a charming little fishing town called Marzamemi. One can really imagine how it must be heaving with tourists here in summer, but right now, nothing but us and the wind pass by the old houses and across the open squares paved with beautiful flagstones. The houses cluster in front of a large disused fish factory. The mind boggles what could be done with a property of this size, right by the seaside…

We take Emma back out of town and along the coast. Where the road slowly dissolves into sand and muddy puddles, we come to a halt by a little sand dune, and pitch up for the night within a stone’s throw of the sea.

The next morning, our route takes us a bit inland to a little town called Scicli which lies along a river about 100mtr above sea level, but if you don’t know how to get there the easy way, you might find yourself on a rocky outcrop high above it before plunging down a series of treacherous hairpin bends. Emma performs well under Frank’s expert guidance!

We find a parking spot on a bridge below the town centre. Across the river, we see some people repairing a wall. It looks like we may be able to buy some organic vegetables there… The only way to get to them seems to be across the river, so we hop across the stepping-stones to meet an Albanian family local to Scicli, who bought this piece of land a year ago. It had been neglected for 30 years previous to that, and the father proudly shows us all the work they have already done to free the overgrown lemon and orange grove and the olive and mulberry trees. Today it is Sunday and a sunny one too, and he’s on his land with his two daughters and a nephew, building a low stone wall. There is a proud enthusiasm in their stories and a laughter around this back-breaking work.

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When we ask if they can sell us some of their produce, they fill a bag with fennel bulbs and very tasty lettuce but won’t accept any money. They also promise to keep an eye on Emma while we hop back across the river and up into town to do a bit of sightseeing.

 

There are many, many beautiful old towns in Sicily and Scicli is one of them. We stroll through the little streets and alleyways until we arrive at the main square where we have a hot chocolate while watching women and children dressed to the nines pour out of church into the square where they are awaited by their husbands and fathers who, it seems, don’t need the approval of god – or maybe it suffices to send your family in to sit for an hour or two in a cold place on a hard bench.

We leave Scicli the easy way, which takes us back to the sea and a little town called Donalucata. We pick up some vegetables and fresh pulpo and set off to find a place where we can grill our food as well as find an internet point, because this afternoon there’s rugby to be watched (writing this, I’m told it’s not just any Rugby but 6 nations!) We rarely stay at camper sites, but today is one of those days, and we’re in luck: we find one by the sea, so small it would only take half a dozen vans, with internet access and plenty of space. I get a chance to catch up with admin, Frank watches Rugby, we eat freshly grilled super soft and tasty pulpo and vegetables and in the evening, to cheer up Frank because Wales so narrowly lost to the old enemy (England, that is, for those like me who wouldn’t know unless they are married to a ardent Welsh fan), we go and chat with the fishermen who have set up their fishing rods out on the beach. One of them grew up here before moving to Catania and he urges us to go to a particular spot not far from here to watch the sunrise the next morning.

I take my violin out to play to the setting sun. It used to be my mum’s violin, she gave it to me shortly before she died. My mum loved playing music and also she loved the sea, so playing the violin by the sea really puts me in touch with her in a good way.

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