Due Spaghetti, an Italian food, wine and travel blog

Sicily! A Photo Essay

Two white and blue fishing boats with the village of Cefalù, Sicily in the background.

It’s a cold, late-autumn day in Minneapolis and our Sicilian vacation is a distant recollection. With the fireplace radiating warmth and and a glass of Nero d’Avola unearthing memories, we captured the sights and the flavors of our summertime tour of the western coast of Sicily.

We flew in to Catania from Rome, grabbed a rental car and cut horizontally through the island to Agrigento, where we spent several days at a fantastic vacation rental, Bed & Breakfast Mammaliturchi. From there, we travel westward, visiting the cities of Sciacca, Mazara del vallo, Trapani, Capo San Vito, Palermo and Cefalù.  It was a most amazing trip!

Map of Sicily, Italy, with the cities of Catania, Agrigento, Sciacca, Mazara del Vallo, Trapani San Vito lo Capo, Palermo and Cefalù highlighted with red dots.

Bed & Breakfast Mammaliturchi
We began our Sicilian vacation at Cico and Lola’s B&B Mammaliturchi in Agrigento on the southern Sicilian coast. The place and the experience was so spectacular, so perfect, that it merited its own blog post.  We walked up the beach to the dazzling white Scala dei Turchi, and visited the magnificent Valley of the Temples, one of the best preserved examples of ancient Greek art and architecture outside of Greece and a remarkable testament to the golden age of Greeks in Sicily.

View of the bright blue and green Mediterranean sea from atop the white rock of Scala dei Turchi in Realmonte, Sicily
A view of the Mediterranean from atop Scala dei Turchi.
Temple of Concordia against a bright blue sku, in Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily.
Temple of Concordia in Valley of the Temples.

Sciacca is a small, medieval fisherman’s village built steeply into the rock that descends down to the sea. At sea level, fishing boats dot the waterfront and fisheries line the streets. Climb a steep set of stone steps, some which take you right past the doorways of local residents, and you will reach the heart of the town of Sciacca. Souvenir shops line the main street, which leads to a piazza with dramatic views over the Mediterranean.  Stop by the local pastry shop and try out some of the local bitter almond and ricotta-based treats.

Stefano and Luca sample local pastries in the back end of a Fiat 500-turned street art.
Stefano and Luca sample local pastries in the back end of a Fiat 500-turned street art.
Luca and Sean descend Sciacca's city steps.
Luca and Sean descend Sciacca’s city steps.

Mazara del Vallo
Founded by the Phoenicians in the 9th century BC, Mazara del Vallo was ruled by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines among others, before finally coming under Arab control in 827 AD.  During the Arab period Mazara del Vallo was an important commercial harbor and the main gateway between Sicily and Northern Africa. The historical center of Mazara del Vallo is  known as the Kasbah, and it boasts distinct Arab architectural influences.  It is also the best place in Italy to eat cous cous, a Northern African dish that Sicilians have adopted as their own.

Arab-influenced architecture in the Kasbah neighborhood of Mazara del Vallo.
Arab-influenced architecture in the Kasbah neighborhood of Mazara del Vallo.
The Kasbah, Mazara del Vallo.
The Kasbah, Mazara del Vallo.

Trapani and Erice
Trapani is known for its salt marshes, and picturesque windmills used to drain the water during the long process of drawing salt out.  It’s also where you can catch a ferry to the heralded Egadi islands, which we didn’t have time for on this trip but fully intend to return to do.  We made a quick stop to see the salt flats, gave in to curiosity and tasted it (yes, it really was salty), and then continued up, and up, and up and winding mountain to the town of Erice.

Erice is a medieval village that sits at the peak of a mountain, 750 meters (2,460 ft) above sea level. On a clear day, you can see Tunisia and Africa’s Northern coast. The day we visited it was anything but clear.  It felt like we’d  stepped right into a scene from Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. In foggy, damp weather we diligently trekked up the main street to Pasticceria Maria Grammatico to sample some exquisite Sicialian pastries. Was the trip up the winding mountain roads worth it?  Yes.

View of the city of Erice, Sicily, high in the mountains.
The medieval town of Erice, in the mountains outside of Trapani, Sicily.

San Vito lo Capo
When you live in place as cold as ours, some beach time is a must. San Vito lo Capo is among the most beautiful beaches in all of Italy. Located on the northwestern tip of Sicily, the winding drive through the mountains offers spectacular views of the sea below.

San Vito lo Capo’s beach is a long stretch of soft sand that leads to a mountain in the distance. The bright aquamarine sea is calm, warm and amazingly clear.  You could lose your wedding ring in waist deep water, look down and see it sparkling on the sea floor below.  The bright beach umbrellas made for a splendid scene.

San Vito lo Capo
The beach at San Vito lo Capo.
San Vito lo Capo
Bright umbrella dot the beach at San Vito lo Capo.
San Vito lo Capo
Sun, sand and sea at San Vito lo Capo.

While the charm and slower pace of Sicily’s small towns offer the greatest appeal, a stop in the chaotic, complicated Palermo is a must. The tour of the historical city is quick, and worth the cost of one of the open-air tour buses. A walk through the markets and the old Arab quarters overwhelms the senses with its sights, sounds and smells. We were most drawn by Palermo’s unique foods: panelle (fritters made of chickpeas and flour), sandwiches with milza (gall bladder), and breakfast with granita al caffè and large gelato-filled brioche. Who says you can’t have ice cream for breakfast?

The Cathedral of Palermo
The Cathedral of Palermo.
A woman's hand holding a Sicilian brioche with ice cream on a city street
A Sicilian brioche with gelato

Cefalù is a charming, seaside town on the northern coast of Sicily.  Full of tourists in the summer months, it nonetheless delightful, with a convenient beach and lots of modern shops, Italian bars and eateries, many with lovely sea views. We dined at Il Covo del Pirata, and loved it.  It’s location was amazing, with tables that looked right out over the water, yet it had a casual, family feel.  We ate seafood to our heart’s content. Stop by early in the day and reserve a table with a view for dinner.

The town of Cefalù, Sicily as seen from the beach
Cefalù, as seen from the beach

7 thoughts on “Sicily! A Photo Essay”

  1. Beautiful!,of family and Sicily. I watch Detective Montalbano sometimes…the scenery is as good as the stories.

  2. Wow ~ such breathtaking beauty. I was in Sicily many years ago and you have me longing to go back. Believe it or not, my family and I stayed in Mazara del Vallo, with Sicilian friends of ours. I remember very little about the trip, and can’t even recall what the town looked like. But I do remember having a wonderful time. Our house was right on the beach, and our friends had a orchard with citrus and other trees. We went fishing for “ricci,” which we split open and ate just like that, with a little fresh lemon juice squeezed over them. Incredible. I also remember being able to see Tunisia from the beach, and listening to Tunisian radio stations in the car. Thanks for jogging my memory, and for making me realize it’s time to go back!

Comments are closed.

About Me

Due Spaghetti

Travel around with me and discover different cultures, gain new experiences, try unique food and enjoy what the world has to offer.

Grid Posts

Featured Posts

Subscribe to my Newsletter