Walkers' World 
Guided Easy Walking and Sightseeing in
Western Sicily   2022


Day 1
Pick up in Palermo Airport at 5 PM and transfer by private bus to the town of Marsala on the west coast of Sicily. After checking into our hotel we have a welcome briefing and dinner. In the evening there is a chance to stroll slowly around the town and perhaps try the wine that has made Marsala famous.

Day 2   Marsala and Levanzo  This morning we explore the historic centre of Marsala after which we take a ferry to the idyllic island of Levanzo. One of the Egadi Islands, the scarcely populated and extremely quiet island was inhabited in prehistoric times as witnessed by the Grotta del Genovese. At the entrance of the grotto (cave) there are paintings (charcoal drawings fixed to the wall with animal fat) dating back to 7000BC depicting hunting and breeding scenes, female figures (resembling the Mother Goddesses) and male figures. Toward the deep end of the cave are graffiti thought to have been drawn around 12,000 BC representing oxen, deer and horses.  It makes one wonder if early man was not as primitive as we are led to believe. But there is more of interest than just prehistoric caves. This is a nature walk where we observe endemic plants and interesting birdlife as well as lovely Mediterranean scenery.

Day 3  Selinunte  An hour away from Marsala is one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in all of the Mediterranean region. Founded in the 7th century BC by the Greeks, Selinunte stands on rolling green hills flanked by two rivers and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The park covers 270 hectares with over eight km of trails. Starting from the three Eastern Temples we walk through the Acropolis enclosed in its massive walls all the way to the Sanctuary of Malophoros. To see the entire park takes three to four hours of easy walking. Nearby, we find the Belice Nature Reserve with 3 km of beach ideal for a beach stroll before heading back to Marsala.

Day 4  Motya and Monte Cofano   
This morning we check out of our hotel and head north stopping to see the 20 sq km lagoon known as Lo Stagnone, a haven for water fowl and nursery for fish and crustaceans. The production of salt in these shallow waters dates back to the Phoenicians and today some saline still produce salt using traditional methods from 2000 years ago.  A short boat ride takes us to Motya, a tiny island in the centre of the lagoon. Founded by Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, Motya was an important and rich colony standing at the crossroads of the main commercial routes of the Mediterranean. Our walk  goes through the remains of what was once a city that was destroyed in the 4th century BC by the tyrant of Syracuse. Thanks to the Englishman Joseph Whitaker, from a family of Marsala wine merchants, the site was excavated in the 20th century.

In the afternoon we explore the lovely Nature Reserve of Monte Cofano which includes caves that have hosted human settlements since palaeolithic times.  Late in the day we reach the tiny village of Scopello where we spend the next four nights.

Day 5   Scopello and Segeste   We start by exploring Scopello which consists of a “baglio” (a  typical fortified structure of Western Sicily built around a courtyard and once used as the centre of an agricultural estate),  a small square with a church, a few houses and an ancient wood-fired oven situated in one of the narrow alleys. Scopello prides itself in the special bread that comes from this oven -  pane cunzatu - a delicious loaf seasoned with salt, olive oil, oregano, tomatoes, local cheese and anchovies and served hot. 

Nearby we see an abandonned tonnara (tuna processing factory) that dates back to the 13th century. Now it is a museum and part of the seafront lido at the edge of a pretty cove and beach. From Scopello we follow a path to a 14th century watch-tower with amazing views of the coastline and along this trail we find what remains of the old Castello di Baida built in XIV century over the ruins of an ancient arab settlement.

In the afternoon our bus takes us to Segesta, an archeaological site with spectacular ruins including a Greek temple that looks as if it were built yesterday although we learn it was actually constructed around 430 BC.  But Segesta dates back long before that. According to Roman mythology  the Trojan hero Aeneas stopped off in Sicily during his long wanderings from Troy and founded Segesta in the 12th century BC.  As we walk to explore the archaeological park with its Doric Temple and ancient Greek Theatre we admire the stunning nature of the mountain setting.

Day 6   Erice    Today we explore a city of ancient origin but medieval in its present appearance.  Originally founded in the Bronze Age by the Elymians, an ancient people with their own not-yet-deciphered language, the town of Erice was populated by many peoples - the Sicani, the Phoenicians and later the Greeks.  Folklore even claims it was visited by mythological characters like Hercules and the Greek hero, Aeneas on his way home from the Trojan war. Like many Sicilian towns, Erice passed from one invader to another and each left their architectural calling cards and their cultural footprints.  Amongst the most visited sites are the two castles, Pepoli Castle and Venus Castle that was built on the site of the ancient Temple of Venus. Other attractions include churches like the Gothic Chiesa Madre built in 1314 and the Mediaeval Church of Saint John the Baptist. The maze of cobbled medieval streets is a pleasure to tour and the views are stunning but visitors are eventually distracted by Erice’s sweets. You have never tasted a cannoli like that of Erice with its fresh whipped riccota filling piped into crispy deep-fried pastry. After a day of walking a few calories don't matter!

Day 7   Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro
Adjacent to our hotel is the Nature Reserve of Zingaro on the Western coastline of the Gulf of Castellammare. This was the very first protected area established in Sicily when, in 1980, a big environmental protest march managed to rescue this piece of heaven from a planned motorway project.  Today, the reserve is pristine and beautiful with limestone cliffs above clear waters, small coves that can only be reached on foot, and an extremely lush and varied vegetation that offers a habitat for mammals and birds.  At the other end of the reserve lies the village of San Vito Lo Capo where, strolling through its steets, we see what looks like a piece of Africa in Sicily. Small and square whitewashed houses, private courtyards, jasmin and bouganvillea testify the strong Arab influence of this town. Although famous for its cous-cous, the gelaterias of the town are also note-worthy. The problem is to choose a flavour. There are so many it is hard to get past the five different versions of chocolate.

Day 8  Departure  
Transfer by private bus to Palermo Airport arriving at 09.30
Anyone who would like to continue to Eastern Sicily can take a train from Palermo to Catania (about three hours).

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