Il Mare Nostrum (i.e. the ancient Roman for the Mediterranean Sea) is the inland sea that is surrounded by Europe, North Africa, Anatolia and Levant and is connected to the Atlantic Ocean. In Our Sea, as it was also known in ancient times, there are more than 150 smaller and bigger islands known for their white-sand beaches and encompassing turquoise-blue sea water, opulent vineyards, magnificent wineries and splendid wines, divine nature, rich history and diverse cultures. We all have heard about and even have visited some of them like Sardinia or Cyprus, Corsica or Crete and of course, the largest of them all ……….
S I C I L Y
If you’re based in the city of two seas you will have plenty to visit. Nowadays, the city of Trapani, which possesses much North African atmosphere, is a very inviting tourist hub due to the airport that is served mainly by European low-cost airlines. Its mild climate, natural beauty and turquoise, crystal clear water seduce thousands of tourists who come here to enjoy the historic and religious heritage of the city, exquisite local cuisine, the amazingly blue sea and beaches, and the company of good–hearted and extremely hospitable trapanesi. Yes, I can assure you that locals are really very hospitable and my friends from Trapani made my vacation so pleasant and exciting some time ago. They introduced their marvellous city to me (especially the churches of Trapani) and there wasn’t a single corner left in Trapani which we didn’t visit together.
When I was there we made a travel to Magna Graecia (Un viaggio nella Magna Grecia). Segesta is a marvellous and well preserved archeological site which represents the glory of the ancient town. There are three noteworthy findings which leave tourists speechless. The Doric Temple dates back to the 5th century and it’s situated in a very wild and deserted region but extremely beautiful at the same time. The 400-metre high Monte Barbaro houses the ancient semicircular amphitheatre built almost at the same time (4th – 3rd century BC and its today’s outlook dates back to the 2nd century). The hill was also equipped with fortifications. The 11 square towers as well as up to five gates also date back to the 5th century.
We also got the kisses of Venus. Erice is a magical place which combines almost all my memories from all of my travels because it is a fairy-tale medieval hill-town with rich ancient history. It’s often a bit mystic place when it’s “dressed” in its “personal cloud”. But …. but if you are lucky enough to get the kisses of Venus on a cloudless day, you will enjoy only breathtaking views of Trapani and the Egadi Islands, the Tyrrhenian Sea and plain, the beaches of San Vito Lo Capo and the coastline towards Monte Cofano and the Gulf of Castellammare, are really unforgettable and remain for life. Lots of people even call it Western Sicilian Taormina.
Of course, we followed the ancient salt route in order to visit the two extremely beautiful protected areas of Sicily along the coast between Trapani and Marsala – “Le saline (saltpans) di Trapani and Paceco” and the “Stagnone” Nature Reserves. The landscape here is really extraordinary and peculiar since these large mirrors of saltwater, massive salt tanks, windmills and white pyramids offer breathtaking views at daytime and awesome sunsets at night. What do I mean? When night comes they become pink but actually, pink is followed by red and orange and these changing colours encircle the ancient mills and embrace the Egadi Islands.
Our next stops were San Vito Lo Capo where we watched gli aquiloni (kites) and one fishermen’s village where the sea said to the moon: “Miss, you thrill me”. There is no doubt that the cherry of cake for me was when I hopped on a hydrofoil and went to the little known … And do you know what I mean? 🙂 I escaped reality and moved to Paradise on Earth. There are too many examples of places where one is amazed with the crystalline sea water whose blue is of some shades and unnaturally shining. When photos of such places circulate on the Internet, people think they must be of the Caribbean basin, Bora Bora or Bali. Yes, but no. Europe and Italy, in particular, is full of such places, one of them being the Egadi Islands which offer breathtaking, picturesque post-card views, clear sea water and a protected natural marine reserve. The extremely beautiful archipelago consists of three islands (Favignàna, Lèvanzo and Marittìmo) and their two smaller “babies” (i.e. the two islets – Maraone and Formica) where mattanza is popular. Believe me when the hydrofoil left the islands I continued repeating “Lasciatemi qui (leave me here)” and it is not a warning (not a warning to men).
After Sicily I decided to drift to …..
V A L E N C I A
Yes, I changed the country but I didn’t regret it at all because Spain ranks third in my list, the list of one boème mediterraneo. Spain has a great number of pearls which are worth a visit but for sure, there is one certain place in the country where I was amazed with the colourful intensity of the place, the mixed cultural and extremely rich historical heritage, and nature which go hand in hand. This is the third largest Spanish city – the valour and bravery of Spain – Valencia.
The city is amazing, indeed. It’s rich history gives you the chance to admire its splendor from above, from the towers of Valencia, while it’s amazing modern architecture and buildings teleport you to another world – the world of sciences and arts, i.e. the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.
On the other hand, the city is one of the greenest cities in Europe as it possesses a great number of green areas and urban parks. Each of them is proud of its vast territories of palm trees and orange trees, pine woods and aromatic plants, fountains and ponds. Above all, these green spaces give more charm to the city as well as they encourage locals and tourists alike to do more sports because they offer huge sports areas for runners and cyclists and also alleys for those who prefer walking on foot. That’s why Valencia could me also called green Valencia.
Last but not least, the valour and bravery of Spain is the undisputed home of paella and the traditional dish “was born” owing to two cultures in Spain – Roman and Arab. So after your long walks around the city, don’t forget to choose a small local and order one paella and Sangria Blanco. This is a type of Sangria typical for Valencia mainly. It is prepared following the same recipe but with white wine. Still being in Southern Spain, you could also order zurra which is a version of the wine-based punch but with peaches and nectarines. What More Do You Need?! 😉
This Spanish fiesta finished and I came back to Italy but this time I went to … click-click.