Calatafimi-SegestaMarch 8, 2017 in Italy
Saying our goodbyes to Giuseppe at Camping Zanzibar, we started out on our journey towards northwestern Sicily where there was a nature reserve we wanted to visit. Giuseppe had spent a good amount of time with us over the last 3 days and spoken not a word of English. It was great for Vicky to be able to practice her Italian with him.
We moved a little inland and climbed slowly to 450m above sea level. The road wound through lush low hills covered in vibrant Yellow Wood Sorrel, rich green pines and citrus groves with a view to the craggy peaks of rocky hills in the distance, all with the background of a striking blue sky. We felt truly lucky to be seeing these stunning Spring sights.
As our drive continued, the soil became sandier and the vegetation more scrubby. We crossed several viaducts, some about 2km long and finally came to our destination of Calatafimi-Segesta, a town about 20km away from the nature reserve.
The small concrete car park had steps leading down to the main street. We parked facing the railings, over which we could see 200m down the road before it curved to theright. Above the 3 storey buildings on either side and their old style TV aerials, was the view of a ruined castle atop a steep hill. As evening closed in, its silhouette was backlit by the sunset glow.
The castle turned out to be less than 2km away, so the following day we set off towards it. Calatafimi-Segesta had put a lot of effort in to opening the town up to visitors. There was an 'urban itinerary' mapped out and listed on a painted tile display near the car park. Throughout the town, painted tiles served as signposts and information boards telling us about the various churches and other places of interest along the way. A steep cobbled road spiralled up the hill to the 12th century Castello Eufemio, used as a military garrison prison until the late 1800s. The site of the ruin was well maintained and being the only ones there, we had free reign to scramble up on the tumbled down walls and under arches into dark dingy cells. The castle was fun in itself but to compliment it, the surrounding view was a stunner. Lush valleys were planted with orchards, the white walls of the town climbed one of the many hills and larger mountains over which clouds formed, loomed in the distance.
On our way back we saw House Martins nipping in and out of their nests under the balconies. Winter seems a very long time ago now! We dropped in to one of the town's 5 flower shops and bought a red geranium to brighten up the van. Geraniums also have a reputation for repelling flies, so with Spring progressing we'll see how effective it is! Will had visited a pasticceria that morning and bought Vicky a little treat. Vicky well and truly had her appetite back now and so we celebrated by choosing a selection of 10 gorgeous looking pastries, mini cakes, biscuits and a chocolate. They were very well made, although how the business makes a profit is beyond us, as the whole tray only came in at €4.60!
Spending two days living in a car park may not be everybody's idea of a good time but it often has the distinct advantage of providing a good insight into local life. It was bin day today and with pavements that are frequently too narrow to walk on, collection was done a bit differently. As well as the communal wheelie bins for larger waste, people had hung long ropes over their balconies with a hook at the end. From the hook they dangled a yellow bag of plastic recycling or a brown bin of organic waste. The bin lorries, of varying sizes depending on how wide the streets on their route were, then come round and the operatives plucked the bag or bin from the hook and popped it in the truck.
That evening we were to experience one of the disadvantages of car park camping. Vicky watched as a car reversed out of the next space but one. It looked as if it was taking the turn too sharply and sure enough it was, because the next moment Martha motorhome was rocked by the slow speed collision. We leapt out and inspected the damage with the rather nervous looking, tight lipped, older man who'd been at the wheel. The car had made contact with our bumper and left scratch marks. We decided it was ok to leave it and when the driver saw that we weren't going to make a fuss he tentatively said something in Italian that seemed like 'give it a polish, it'll be alright!' We'll get a bit of sandpaper and try and work our magic.
Poppy was glad we were moving on. A Beagle with a vicious sounding bark had a bird's eye view of 'its' car park from a balcony. Whenever Poppy came out to toilet, the unseen woofer from on high scared her witless 😕Read more