La Riserva Naturale di Zingaro

On our way through to the nature reserve, we stop off in San Vito lo Capo to stock up with food and water. By the time we get going again, darkness has settled so we can only guess at the beauty surrounding us as the road snakes up and down and in and out, 8km along the coast before coming to a gravelly halt on the gates of the reserve. We are the only ones there, apart from a car with locals who seem to be up to some naughty night fishing (fishing is not allowed in the reserve), but we chose to ignore the obvious fishing rods in their packs and focus instead on the two dogs who seem to have crept out of a hollow under a bush by the side of the road, wagging their tails and looking rather hungry and dehydrated. We offer water and some food, which they lap up gratefully. It is a beautifully quiet and starry night and we all settle in for the night: The female dog slinks off to somewhere, to male curls up under the engine of our Emma and Frank and I tumble into bed after a round of Canasta.

We are blessed with a  beautiful sunrise.

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The minute we come out the next morning we are greeted excitedly by our newly found friends. As the female looks like she might be a feeding mum, I decide to check on the spot where I saw them emerge the previous day, and indeed, there are five beautiful pups.

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In the time that it takes us to do our morning things, Yoga, make food for the day, practice the violin etc., several local cars have arrived and on their way, they stopped and looked at the pups and possibly gave some food to the parents. Someone even tips out half a big sack of dry dog food, but the dogs don’t seem to want to touch it, preferring our protein mix of tuna, chick peas and oat milk instead. Perhaps dry dog food can only be digested if the dog has sufficient access to drinking water, which must be difficult here.

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Sicilian strays have a much better life than their counterparts in Spain or Portugal. Here, they seem to belong to a place, like for example to the entrance of this nature reserve, and they seem to be looked after by anyone who happens to come along. Generally, they are quiet and friendly, and in this case it was surprising to see how involved the father of the pups was – he seemed to be more protective of them than the mother!

We pack a picnic and set out into the nature reserve. The mountains rise out of the sea and up to over 1000 mtrs, and there are many paths to explore. We spend a day making a round trip including a museum village and only cover about half of the distance to the Southern entrance. One could easily spend a few days here to discover the different paths, villages and caves, and chill out on the beautiful beaches.

After a late afternoon swim on an almost tropical looking beach, we return to our van in time to take my bicycle to the repair shop in San Vito lo Capo. This is a shop that opens at Sundown, as its owner, Daniele is an outdoorsy kind of person, heavily involved in the local climbing scene.

This was one of the most beautiful days we’ve had in Sicily, stunning views and beautiful smells. It was also a really good physical challenge, including climbing up the mountain for about 2hours to get to the museum village. The day was only slightly marred at the end by Frank’s fall backwards against a rock when he tried to find a short-cut through the undergrowth…

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Do visit this link to see all the photos of this day. It is worth using the slide-show function by clicking a little icon on the top right hand side of the display!


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