Trapani’s port area
Trapani was the first stop we made after leaving Barcelona, ergo the port I started with when I began my research for the season. I was really hard-pressed to find much information online for this venerable Sicilian town. True, this sleepy burg located on the northwest corner of the island of Sicily is a relatively new edition to cruise itineraries, but the town itself has been around for centuries! Still guests and crew alike grumbled that the only reason we stop here is because it is cheap anchorage, mwa, mwa, mwa…I suspect that it is an inexpensive place to dock, however, considering it’s fathomless history and its proximity to other wondrous places, I found Trapani absolutely delightful!
Every Sicilian hamlet has a Piazza Garibaldi
Like most Italiophiles, I love Italy because of the food, the art, the fashion and the music. But I also love Italy because it is visibly ancient, gritty and seductively authentic. I find it thrilling to run my hand over a statue or fountain that has been grazed by the multitudes for centuries. The streets of these ancient cities have a palpable vibration that simply does not exist in their North American counterparts. Trapani does not disappoint in this regard. The city itself is shaped like a sickle jutting out toward the confluence of the Mediterranean and Tyrrhenian Seas. Ships dock on the south side of the sickle where it is also possible to hop a ferry or hydrofoils to the nearby Egadi Islands. The north side of town, visible from the ship, has a splendid promenade/fortress lined with public beaches for several miles along the coast. What lies in between is admittedly, easy to explore on foot within a couple of hours: a narrow network of streets through the historic center boasts a number of churches, piazzas and palazzos, fountains and a marvelous botanical garden. The locals strictly observe siesta; that includes the taxi drivers, much to the chagrin of independent guests who only arranged for one-way transportation to the neighboring village of Erice or the more remote archeological site of Segesta.
My colleagues and I were fortunate to have transportation provided and a private tour guide to boot. It’s one of the perks of working in the shore excursions department. Whenever we are in a port none of us is familiar with we can arrange a ‘site inspection’ with the tour operator. Our guide drove us through Trapani’s old town on route to the medieval village Erice. Perched just over seven hundred and fifty meters above sea level, the village of Erice has it all – legend, history, beauty, culture, castles, churches, stunning views! Here we walked the tightly woven cobblestone streets and sampled the pastries.
Erice is in fact famous for its confectionary. The most popular local treat is a ‘Genovaise’ which is sort of like a custard filled powdered donut, except it’s nothing like that because there’s none of that greasy gunk in it that sticks to the roof of your mouth the way a donut does. No, the Genovaise is light as air! So light in fact, that we had plenty of room for a traditional Sicilian lunch. I had the Busiati al Pesto Trapanese – Sicilian pasta with pesto. The dish is similar to traditional pesto, lots of basil and garlic, but is also infused with finely chopped fresh tomatoes and parsley.
View of Trapani from Mount Erice
After this garlic-fest I felt extra excited about my one on one time with guests during my desk hours! Hhhhelloooo! Hhhhhow was your day?!!