After Palermo Came A Couple of Nights in Trapani so We Could Visit Erice July 27 - 30, 2018


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Europe » Italy » Sicily » Trapani
July 30th 2018
Published: August 16th 2018
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Just a few of the boats we passed on the way Just a few of the boats we passed on the way Just a few of the boats we passed on the way

some huge, some very small & some dragging nets
We left Palermo at 7:25AM and headed west toward a town by the name of Capo San Vito. We had heard from a few people that it was a nice place to stop and it would mean a nice short day of only about 6 hours. It was a very calm day with only light winds but what we did have was on the nose. Another day where we put up the mainsail but also had the iron jenny (the motor) on as well. It gave us time to motor along the coast to see the beautiful outcrops, rocky crags and a few caves as well. Fortunately a little later in the morning the wind changed direction and we were able to get more power from the sails which was very enjoyable. We came to the bay that we were going to anchor in about 2PM, got the binoculars out and saw that there was a wonderful beach which was covered with wall to wall people. With anchoring out we didn’t know if we wanted to bother putting the dinghy in the water to explore, so a quick conference with Bob checking the chart plotter again and a new plan was
A Beautiful Calm Day for Enjoying the CoastlineA Beautiful Calm Day for Enjoying the CoastlineA Beautiful Calm Day for Enjoying the Coastline

on the way to Trapani from Palermo
hatched. We decided as it was a very pleasant day on the water we would pick up a day by continuing to our next port of call, Trapani. We knew of a couple of things we wanted to see while there and with our 90 day clock ticking away on our visa we decided we’d rather use the time there. We had heard that Capo San Vito has the most beautiful beaches along this stretch, but as we weren’t planning on anything more specific than seeing the beach and walking through town, the decision was made. As we learned when we were in Peace Corps, the most important thing to remember is ‘to be flexible’ and they didn’t mean our bodies!

About 5:40PM we entered the harbor of Trapani. We had information from one of our apps as well as some friends of a good place to anchor. We had made reservations for the next night in a marina as we wanted to take a day trip away from the boat and thought it would be worthwhile to be tied up in a marina for that. We lowered the anchor and thought we had a good hook, but unfortunately
Lighthouses - An Important NecessityLighthouses - An Important NecessityLighthouses - An Important Necessity

for the safety of all that ply the seas
it wasn’t so up it came again. Full of weeds! Bob cleared the anchor of the weeds; we moved around the anchorage and dropped again in a great location this time as she was holding very well.

This happened to be July 27th and we were sitting out back when the moon appeared – what a sight it was. Yes, we were very fortunate to be where we were as there wasn’t anything in our way of seeing a great display of the blood moon and then later the lunar eclipse. Guess we were in the right place at the right time.

The next morning we pulled up anchor early in the morning to get settled into the marina so we would be able to get full use of the day. We found that Trapani is a base for a number of ferries that ply back and forth to the nearby islands giving a definite feel of a tourist town complete with the souvenir shops, dive shops and cafes along the waterfront. An advantage of this is that there was a very good tourist information office where we found details about visiting the nearby hilltop village of Erice,
Bob relaxing while he was "Off-Duty"Bob relaxing while he was "Off-Duty"Bob relaxing while he was "Off-Duty"

while we actually got some sailing in today
but also that there is a tour we could take to the nearby salt pans and museum. I had read that the salt pans were near here, but couldn’t find an easy way to get there short of renting a car for just a couple of hours. This would be perfect. Bought our tickets and then came back for the start of the tour. What pulled up but one of those ‘cute little tourist trains’. Had to chuckle as Bob always laughs and says he won’t ride in one of those (except those that follow us know that he had already broken that rule before!)

The area around the salt pan is a protected area funded by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) so those of you that may contribute, thank you. One thing that we did see when we were coming into the Trapani harbor was a couple of windmills which we had heard were used in the processing of the salt. Sure enough, the small but informative museum we visited went through the history of the area and the harvesting of the salt. The windmills that look similar to ones we had seen in the Netherlands were used for two processes: 1) to move the grindstone that broke down the larger pieces of salt into a coarse and medium grind that could be then sold and the other 2) pump the water from one pan into another for further evaporation of the water.

For those of you that may not be aware, the salt water is brought into an area (pan) which in the area closest to the sea is about 4 feet deep. The windmill is used to pump this water into evaporation areas (pans) which are shallower. Each “pan” is shallower than the one before with the last one being only about 1 foot deep. One important element of the pans is the mud layer that lines the bottom. It is a type of mud that is naturally binding and makes a “seal” so that when the water evaporates the salt remains on top and does not go into the ground below. With the heat of the sun all summer long, the salt is actually harvested in the month of September once the water has evaporated in the shallowest pan. In the photos you will notice that there is a pinkish color which is created
The Church and Convent in TrapaniThe Church and Convent in TrapaniThe Church and Convent in Trapani

captures the skyline here
from the algae that grows. In the end the algae dies off and the salt is scraped off and put in piles. The piles of salt are then covered with tiles to keep the rain off while it sits there for 10 months allowing it to fully dry out. It is then that the salt is put into the grindstone which was run by the windmill to a coarse and medium size grains that are now ready to sell. If a household wanted a fine grain they needed to complete that process at home with a mortar and pestle.

The guide was excellent at going over the process of how the salt pans functioned in the past and informed us that the process is similar today. The major difference is that the windmills of the past are not used, electric pumps are more effective today for the moving of the water. The salt is still harvested by hand as in the past, but conveyer belts now move the salt to the piles which are still left to dry for 10 months.

There is a lovely restaurant in the back of the museum, but it was not open for
We are Sweating With the HeatWe are Sweating With the HeatWe are Sweating With the Heat

look what is for sale in the shops! Guess it gets cold
business as they were getting set up for a wedding reception that evening. We did notice that there was one table that was sitting in a separate area and the floor was covered with salt crystals. Many of you may already know that there are numerous superstitions about salt and one is that it will bring you good luck. It also was a sign of prosperity as salt was a very important trading item which brought us the saying “worth its salt in gold”. It was a very enjoyable few hours away from the city of Trapani and quite educational. Typically salt pans also bring flamingoes, but the majority of them come to this area in September. Fortunately we did get to see a few but only from a distance as our trip was a few months early for better sightings of them. Oh well…

One place we wanted to see that we read about in our guide books was the hilltop village of Erice. It is located behind Trapani on a hill called Mt. Saint Julian which is 2,460 feet tall. It was first populated by the Phoenicians, but over the centuries had been taken over by numerous
An Interesting Collection of Vending MachinesAn Interesting Collection of Vending MachinesAn Interesting Collection of Vending Machines

open to everyone- anyone for a Beck's or Corona??
others due to its strategic location. Unfortunately the Carthaginians destroyed much of it during the Punic Wars. It was ruled by the Arabs until the Norman conquest and during the Norman-Roman period it reached its peak of development. Trapani started to flourish, but with its growth it began the decline of Erice, however, the defensive fortifications of Erice that were put in place during the Norman rule continued to give it a strategic military purpose.

You can get to Erice one of three ways, by driving up, taking a bus or a cable car. We chose to use the cable car as we read that you would get some spectacular views this way. We found out from the tourist information that we first needed to take a bus to the base of the cable car which we happily did as it was quite a distance from the waterfront. The cable car costs was 8 euros round trip if bought in advance and 9 euros at the location. The cable car is one which you get on yourself with no attendant nearby at either end and after about a 10 minute ride you are at the top where you then
Local Fishing Boats in TrapaniLocal Fishing Boats in TrapaniLocal Fishing Boats in Trapani

many only use oars to go out fishing
have to walk uphill to get into the actual village. The views were spectacular, but as I told Bob they really need to spend some time cleaning the windows!! No problem however, as you get plenty of opportunities at the top to enjoy the scenery. We read that many times the top is surrounded in “fog” and you can’t see very far at all, but we lucked out with a perfect day for this trip.

We walked up to the castle and went in. They have an admission charge for the castle as well as many of the churches here. We decided to only do the castle and then take the rest of the time to wander around the village. I’m sure there must have been some wonderful churches, but we felt we were getting an overload of churches and wanted to just wander today with it being such a gorgeous day. With the elevation there was also a nice breeze to enjoy. I forgot to tell you in the Palermo blog that it had gotten so hot that we were finding our energy was really getting drained so we broke down and bought a portable air conditioning unit.
The Salt Museum in Trapani With Its WindmillThe Salt Museum in Trapani With Its WindmillThe Salt Museum in Trapani With Its Windmill

to show how it had been done in the past
It has already been a worthwhile purchase as the middle of the day we typically stay down below with the AC on and can still function rather than feeling like we want to sleep all day. We also are figuring it will be beneficial to have when we are in Tunisia.

We found out that the day we were there at the castle they had a few people demonstrating some of the traditional medieval crafts of metal work, basket making and even had a chance to sample some homemade wine (which even they admitted wasn’t very good!)

These were two very nice outings making it a worthwhile stop in Trapani. We did walk around the town of Trapani and found there were numerous churches here, but surprisingly none of them were open. As it was quite a hot day we for walking we just took in the sights making many of our decisions of where to walk by which side of the street had shade! Our last night at the marina we got talking to a young couple that are working on fixing up their boat. They have plans to cruise and as result they had plenty of questions for us and we were pleased to share some of our knowledge. By the end of the evening of talking they said it was a good discussion as it energized them about their plans. They have been working very hard on their boat in very hot weather so am sure a “boost” about the end goal may have helped. We will definitely enjoy staying in touch with Ann and Andre to see how their plans come together. It is always fun to talk to others that have this dream and work to make it a reality.


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The Piles of Salt Are Covered With TilesThe Piles of Salt Are Covered With Tiles
The Piles of Salt Are Covered With Tiles

to protect it from the rain while it dries out for 10 mos.
The More Recent Type of Windmill That Was UsedThe More Recent Type of Windmill That Was Used
The More Recent Type of Windmill That Was Used

to pump water between the different pans
Photos of Photos At the Salt MuseumPhotos of Photos At the Salt Museum
Photos of Photos At the Salt Museum

showing how the salt has been harvested for centuries
The Windmill Powered the GrindstoneThe Windmill Powered the Grindstone
The Windmill Powered the Grindstone

that ground the salt into coarse & med. size crystals


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