We needed a vacation. After several months of prepping for our move to Europe, which included job quitting, ticket buying, furniture selling, money saving, and a lot of stressing out about WTF we were doing, we needed to stop and do nothing, preferably somewhere on the Mediterranean. After all, why move to Europe if you can't jet down south and take a dip in the sea?
And so, after meeting up in Warsaw, we were thinking of heading down to Croatia. It was cheap, it was beautiful, and it had the clearest, warmest waters full of edible squid. We thought tickets wouldn't be an issue, even if booking a week in advance (silly Americans), but apparently we underestimated the great European summer migration south. Croatia turned out to be pricey, but instead, we found a relatively cheap flight from Warsaw to a city called Trapani, which after looking it up on the map, turned out to be in western Sicily.
Hey, Sicily! We've always wanted to go to Sicily. Why not now? We booked it, but with a few days left before the flight, didn't exactly form much of a plan or read too much about it. Which, sometimes, can be the best way to travel. It's something about not setting any expectations and then letting yourself be surprised by discovery.
Sicily, it turned out, had:
1. Really good white wines. Like really, really, really good. How did we not know this? Why is it not world-famous?? Maybe we were just stuck in our Sonoma/Napa Valley bubble, I don't know. In one vegetable store in a tiny town of Scopello, we saw a vat with a spigot that poured out white wine. It cost 3.50 for a liter. Unfortunately, we didn't have an empty bottle to fill :( But we still drank plenty of them at aperitivo. Grillo and Cataratta were our favorites. Try them if you ever spot a bottle in your local wine store. They probably won't cost 3.50, but try it anyway.
2. Ruins. Really old ones. Like this Greek Doric temple of Segesta, thought to have been built in 420 BC and may be one of the best preserve temples of its kind in the world (it was never finished, so the missing roof isn't missing - it was never built in the first place).
3. Seafood. Sicily is an island after all. It comes in such variety that the best thing to do is to order a misto and try everything. It's all delicious.
4. And castles. Like Erice, which is an ancient town founded by the Phoenicians and perched on a cliff 2,460 ft above Trapani with the craziest windiest road to get there and a maze of cute cobblestone streets. On a clear day, you can see Africa from there.
4. Cannoli. Holy shit, they're good. When my dad asked me what cannoli were, I told him it's the thing that you first think of when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you think of when you go to bed. That's how good they are. I never really liked them back in U.S., but in Sicily, where they're from, they are RI-DI-CULOUS. One night, we had a cannoli dinner.
5. Flamingos! What?!!! Yep, there are pink flamingos, hanging out near the salt ponds, exactly 5 minute drive from Trapani's airport.
5. Tuna - Sicily is peppered with tonnara, or old tuna factories. And old wooden tuna boats. And shops selling tuna products. And restaurants serving cured tuna appetizers and grilled red tuna entrees. And tuna museums with paintings of brawny dudes pulling tuna out of the water.
6. And of course beaches. Sicily is giant, so it has sandy beaches and pebble beaches and these crazy rock cliff beaches that we found on Favignana island.