Day 13: From Trapani to the Hills

4:30 am:  I woke up (and therefore Jim did, too) to a coughing fit, a holdover from my cold.

5:30 am:  cue the local roosters.

6:00 am:  the family staying upstairs sounded like they were practicing for a River Dance performance.  Complete with wooden shoes.

6:30 am:  we decided it was time to move on.

Just a small portion of breakfast

Just a small portion of breakfast

Breakfast was a delicious occasion again, with a different variety of food but the same quantity and to-go bags.  We feasted, packed up the car, bid arrivederci to the puppy, and were on our way.  Our first stop was to the nearby salt pans that line this stretch of coastline and which we’d passed by several times, since the B&B was located practically in the middle of them.  The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) maintains a marine nature reserve here (the Riserva Naturale Orientata Saline di Trapani e Paceco), so we got out of the car to examine it more closely.  Amid the salt pans were large groups of flamingos and sandpiper-like birds (or maybe they were sandpipers) just hanging out, looking like they were enjoying the beauty of the area as much as we were.

Salt pans of Nubia

Salt pans of Nubia

Our next stop was to pop into the nearby city of Trapani.  This was Jim’s first foray into Sicilian city driving, and it’s not for the weak of heart.  Cars come at you from all angles, stop signs are apparently Italian language for “slow roll and sort of yield – maybe,” and everyone is in a hurry.  Undeterred, Jim (and our GPS) found our way to a public parking area in the heart of it all and we set out.

This is commonplace of Trapani architecture

This is commonplace of Trapani architecture

Trapani has a great vibe, the streets were filled with students, lots of cafes, incredible architecture everywhere, and pedestrian-only streets that only had light traffic.  We zigged our way up some streets, stopped for a coffee break, and zagged our way down other streets.  This town definitely needed more time than we had to give, as we’d already decided on our next overnight stop and it was a couple hours drive away.  Dark clouds also had started to set in and since our coats were, once again, snug as bugs in the car we elected to cut our time short and head out, reluctantly.  It was a good move, as a couple blocks from the car it started to sprinkle the largest rain drops we’d ever seen.

Stagnone Lagoon salt pans

Stagnone Lagoon salt pans

The initial plan for the day was to get up close and personal with the salt pans and WWF reserve (check), eyeball Trapani (check), and then head to a town called Mazara del Vallo before going away from the coast and into the innards of Sicily.  However, after we left the craziness of Trapani traffic we made a brief stop to view the Stagnone Lagoon salt pans and found ourselves later in the day than intended and still a couple hours from where we wanted to be.  So the decision was made to bypass Mazara del Vallo and head directly to our next lodging, the B&B Le Foglie D’Argento near Caltabellotta.

We had only found this B&B on the internet this morning and booked it for one night, but had done the responsible thing and scrawled down the name of the place and the GPS coordinates the B&B provided on their website.  With those in hand, who needs an address?  And seriously, how big could Caltabellotta be, anyway?  I mean, have you heard of it?

Well, the GPS coordinates only work if your GPS allows for the format they provided, which, of course, ours did not.  And, naturally, this was only discovered en route.  Okay, no worries, we’ll head to Caltabellotta and look for signs to the lodging.  Well, it turns out that not only is Caltabellotta larger than we’d anticipated (and located up high on a hill, about 3,000 feet above sea level), but the B&B wasn’t even located in town, it’s located about 5 kilometers south of town on a very, very windy road and you have to drive through the town of Sant’ Anna first.  Jim’s cell phone came to the rescue once again, and we were able to sort ourselves out and find the place.  Ok, we “found” it once the owner came to find us stranded on the road and lead the way.  And, as it turned out, where he found us was about 50 feet away from the sign pointing the way.

View over B&B grounds from terrace

View over B&B grounds from terrace

The B&B Le Foglie D’Argento is set on a large, working olive tree farm on a hillside with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside.  This could very well be Garden of Eden II, as our upstairs room had a beautiful view, a large terrace nearby, gorgeous flowers all around, three dogs, several cats, and the place had a pool.  I was definitely moving in here.

The owner did not speak much English (although certainly much, much more than we did Italian), but had spent time in a Spanish-speaking country so we decided that would be the official language for the next couple days, as we know just enough Spanish to get into trouble.  He invited us to sit on the patio with him for a beer, which we did, and we spent the next couple hours chatting about this and that.  At one point another guest turned up, an Italian man from the Piedmont region of northern Italy, and he joined in, although he stuck with Italian and not Spanish.  It was fine, however, as he turned out to be an avid golfer and therefore he and Jim automatically spoke the same international language of GolfSpeak.  It is not a dialect I have picked up.

Eventually we got our bags and went to settle in the room, taking a brief rest before driving to the nearby town of Ribera for a pizza dinner.  There was a little confusion as to which restaurant we were going to, as the GPS thought one thing, Jim thought another, and in the end, we just found a place creatively called Pizzeria Ristorante and ate.  Maybe one of these days we’ll actually write down an address.  The GPS seems to work better when you have one of those.

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