Zingaro Nature Reserve & Guidaloca beachMarch 10, 2017 in Italy
"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'till its gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot" - Joni Mitchell
This is what they wanted to do to the Zingaro area of Sicily, indeed they had already blasted a tunnel through the rock before a massive public outcry halted the road building and Zingaro became the island's first Nature Reserve. It certainly seemed like paradise to us during the 3 hours we spent walking its cliffside path.
The dead end road leading up to the car park was slipping down the hill and had been undercut by little streams. In several large sections the tarmac had been washed away and occasionally filled with gravel. We parked up next to two small silver campervans with GB plates. We greeted the man sitting in the one next to us with a cheery "hello, we haven't seen many Brithish people in Sicily". He replied with a surly "there are plenty of us if you know where to look" and an uncomfortable silence ensued in which we shuffled off. During lunch we heard him make two phone calls, berating the person on the other end, one of which was his son! We guess not everyone is as enamoured by vanlife as us!
Entry was €5 each and the ticket seller a little surprised but pleased that we were speaking Italian to him (from the multilingual greetings we received on our walk we guess not many others did). We did however meet a nice English couple on a walking tour. They'd already done about 10 miles and were on their way back to their B&B.
Ruddy ochre rocks covered in reddish brown soil rose steeply up from the clear aquamarine Tyrrhenian sea. The path took us in and out of small coves and headlands about 50m above the water to our right and about 100m below the ridge of the cliffs to our left. The day was warm enough to walk in shorts and t shirts and we needed the spf 30 sunscreen. As if the temperature wasn't enough, short Fan Palms added a tropical feel. The colour scape was beautiful; a myriad of meadow flowers covered patches, while alongside the path grew flowering wild herbs and tiny ground plants that added drops of intense maroon, yellow, purple or cream. The aroma of grape hyacinth and broom flooded tracts of air along the way.
The area was literally buzzing with creatures, from the different kinds of little green lizards we disturbed and the the adder slinking through the grass, to the insects and birds that crossed our path. After we had seen the adder, Vicky started at any rustle she heard in the undergrowth, until Will 'reassuringly' told her she needn't worry as she wouldn't hear it coming!
We walked 3km before dropping down into the intimate pebbly cove of Disa beach. There was a group of four other people here but when we crossed over into the close by Berretta cove it was abandoned. The waves grew to about 3ft as they were funnelled in to the narrow cut before clawing at the pebbles on their retreat. Will went for a quick dip while Vicky paddled in water that was cold but not icy. The sun had set behind the towering cliff when we left the cove and instead of feeling the heat from above, we could feel it rising from the land as we walked back. We can honestly say that Riserva Naturale della Zingaro is one of the most beautiful places we've ever seen. It was a real pleasure to be able to walk through it!
For an overnight spot we'd seen a beach side car park a few kilometres away and were able to access it on the way back. It was a paying car park but as it wasn't high season the ticket machines had been removed. Two small, rocky, tree topped headlands cupped either side of the bay. As the moon rose beside the right hand headland an onshore wind got up. The car park was strewn with sand and pebbles, so after a while we moved back from the front for some protection from the wind and possible high waves.
Waking up the following day we were glad we'd retreated, as the wind had pushed the waves up the beach, some to within a few feet of where we'd originally parked. We took a short walk up to an abandoned tower on a nearby ridge but spent the rest of the day chilling and watching the waves. There were several other vans parked up, two of which stayed beside us on the second night. We got talking to a young Swiss couple, Camilla and Mattias, who had just learned to drive, bought a small van and come away with their young son Miles. They were planning to spend the next one or two years alternating between holidaying and Worldwide Working On Organic Farms (WWOOFing) for a few weeks at a time. We were able to help them out with some suggestions of places to stay before they started their first job. They were a lovely family doing something inspirational and we've a feeling they will get a lot out of spending time on the road together.Read more