[This post is part of a series which records my road trip to Sicily during September. I took loads of photos, but have only included a few at the end of each blog post.]
Sciacca is a quaint little town on the south coast of Sicily. I chose it partly because it was central between Selinunte and Agrigento, and also because it is reputedly a thermae spa founded in the 5th century BC by the Greeks. However, the real character of the town owes its character to Roger the Great Count who built the city walls and the Old Castle.
We used it as a base for 4 days to explore the south coast of Sicily by car. As my parents had joined us for part of our holiday, we rented two self-catered apartments at Casale la Zagara. They were excellent. The owners were very friendly, spoke English and were always on hand if we needed anything as they lived just behind the apartments. They also gave really helpful advice about were to eat, what was nice to do around Sciacca, and where the nearest food shops were. The apartments themselves were excellent. They were very clean and well appointed. The apartments also had really effective air conditioning (which we didn’t really use) and had solar electricity.
Not only that, but they had off-road parking on a private road which was so useful. After driving around the centre of Sciacca and fitting the car through increasingly narrow streets, down very steep and twisty roads with tarmac like ice, the OH was so relieved to dump the car. There was room to keep the car off the street and well away from any scrapes or other cars. In fact, there was room for about 4-5 cars on the parking stand.
My parents had an apartment that was just above, and behind ours. In fact, their bathroom window was the one on the left-hand side of the photo below. This meant we could pop over for dinner (they had a bigger kitchen) and also have our own space as well. Perfect.
Our kitchen was quite small, and had limited surfaces for preparing food, but the whole apartment was lovely and cool. It had a cute little courtyard to sit outside and enjoy watching little lizards dart around the place and bake in the sunshine.
It was quite dark in our bedroom, but this made it really cool at night and very quiet. I really appreciated the screens on the windows which meant that we could sleep with the windows open.
On the first day we went for a short exploration of the town before heading back to find a supermarket and getting some food. Sciacca is built on a hill, so many of the roads go up or straight down. The area surrounding the Old Port is very hilly and there are cute little stairways that wend their way around houses to reach the rest of the town. We mainly stuck to the upper levels of the town and found that it was a mix of crumbling beauty, dereliction and restoration. Unlike many places in Italy, I felt like it was a lived in town rather than one restored for tourists. In fact, while there, I only saw what I imagined were Italian tourists. We were definitely the only English people that I saw.
When my parents arrived, we went for a much longer walk (obviously in the midday sun – 2/3 of us were English after all.) We started from our apartment and then ventured down to the old port which is still being used. There were some very well fed wild cats and looking into the waters of the port, there were shoals of fish swimming around. No one was fishing as it was a Sunday. We trudged around to wander along a very rocky beach and came across some doors cut into the rock. We couldn’t look in because there was a huge bees nest protecting the entrance. It was super hot by this time, so we walked back to the Port, took some photos of cats and then hiked up some steps to find the remainder of our group settled in the shade by the Basilica.
After refreshment, we continued our walk and wandered up to the top of the town and looked across to a beautiful view. The weather was fast closing in and it was clear that an epic thunderstorm was close. We started back down the narrow, twisty and turny streets past old and abandoned houses and churches. The OH did a bit of traffic management, and we passed through two of the old town gates.
As the town was mainly used as a stopping point, a place to eat and to sleep, we didn’t really do much purposeful sight-seeing. Looking back, this is a shame because there were loads of different churches, castles and palazzos to explore. We did manage (accidentally) to see:
- The church of Santa Margherita
- Piazza Steripinto (not the Palazzo as it’s pretty much a ruin)
- Cathedral of Maria SS del Soccorso
- Chiesa San Michele (outside of it)
- Chiesa del Carmine (outside)
- September Travels: Sicily via Naples (canadiankate.wordpress.com)
- A Tale of Two Cities (crmcohen.com)