Our Wakes: 2017

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  North Sicilia: (July & Augustus 2017)
During our stay around Sicilia we travelled quite a bit along its north coast. We went to the  west side to the city of Trapani and the Egadine islands (Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo) as  well as the east side to Milazzo’s harbor close to the Strait of Messina. On the most Western  side of Sicilia is a group of islands called the Egadine islands. They are part of a natural park  and to access them you need a permit. Unfortunately, the permit does not cover everything. If  you want to have a buoy you need another permit and the same is true for scuba diving. Luckily,  the islands are nice and if you visit them you will see that there used to be a big tuna industry  on the islands. Today all the tuna factories have been closed since a long time ago. We were a  little disappointment with the islands; probably our expectations were too high. Other people  like this place very much; it just shows that people’s opinions are not always the same. On the  westernmost end of the island of Sicily lies the city of Trapani. It is an important harbor with  an interesting fish market otherwise the city itself has not much to offer. Near the train  station, you can take a cable car up to the medieval city of Erice. During the ascent you will  have a beautiful view of the salt lakes were salt is harvested. Once in Erice you will have a  spectacular view of the North and East side of Sicilia.  Erice is a very nice town with well-preserved houses that today have been transformed into  souvenir shops and restaurants. There are no modern buildings in Erice, which makes it a unique  village that we recommend visiting. Cruising along the north coast, we reached the city of  Castellammare de Golfo. It is a little harbor built in between the hills. The view is quit unique.  Not far from there you can visit the historical site of Segesta. The place has a remarkable  Greek temple as well as a Greek theater.  The temple   still has all its columns in place, but what is interesting to note is that its construction was  never completed. There is also a  theater nearby. If you visit them you will not be  disappointed, but do not forget to look  also at the landscape.  Moving toward the East you will  arrive at the city of Palermo which is without doubt the major city in the north of Sicily. We  stopped in Palermo several times and visited The Catacombs, the Opera and the Cathedral. The  Maximo Victorrio Emanuelle Theater located in the center of the city was built in 1875 and is  the biggest opera house in Italy. The Italian King Humberto 1 was quite upset by its  construction as he had declared that Palermo did not need such a big opera house.  He refused to join the opening ceremony and until today, no Italian king or president, has ever  been to the opera there. Today this opera is the only one in Italy that books a profit as the  prices are democratic and they always play to a full house. It is ranked the third largest opera  house in Europe after Vienna and Amsterdam. Emotional people should not enter the catacombs  of Palermo. More than 8,000 bodies rest there and despite some treatment, the bodies have  decayed. The catacombs started to receive people in around 1600; the last person to be buried  there was in 1920. Taking photographs is not allowed in the catacombs, but on the web many  people have posted a large number of photographs taken there.  What disturbed us was that  some people visited the catacombs with their dog. The dog did not seem to be impressed  by all the bones but I still believe this is not a place for dogs. During our stay in Palermo, many  people informed us that the city was celebrating Santa Rosalia. At the age of 14, the future  Saint decided to leave her parents and hide in the nearby mountains and live as a hermit were  she died in 1166. In 1624, during the plague, the Virgin Mary appeared to a sick women and a  hunter and instructed them to collect the remains of the girl. She also pointed out the cave  where the remains could be found. Since then, St Rosalia has been the patron saint of Palermo  which is celebrated every year. The cathedral devoted to the patron contains a lot of graves  of important people. In addition to the relics of St Rosalia you can find the tombs of several  Italian emperors and kings. This shows on its own that Palermo was once a much more  important city that it is today. One tomb did puzzle me as it was very modern. It was the tomb  of Saint Pin Puglisi killed by the mafia in 1993. This priest wanted to regain control of the  revenue from the religious celebrations in Palermo. The mafia could not accept this and on his  50th birthday, they killed him. In 2012 he was elevated to sainthood and in 2013  his body was transferred to the cathedral. One interesting place to visit in Palermo is the  market. In fact there are three markets in Palermo. The markets are not as big as the one in  Catania or Syracuse but you can find all kinds of fruit, fish, meat and vegetables. The Palermo  harbor is mainly where ferries transfer trucks and passengers to the island of Sardinia 200  miles (370km) away. Sailing further East from Palermo, we reached the city of Cefalu. This  city is easy to recognize as behind there is a 245 meter high rock. Inside the city you get the  impression that you are in and old city as cars are blocked from entering and must stay  outside. Cefalu is known as a resort. Situated in the middle of the city, the Cathedral is  classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO and is a must to visit. It’s construction started  in 1131 and it contains some of the most beautiful byzantine mosaics of Italy. They have been  freshly restored and are very beautiful. They represent the Christ and the Virgin Mary.  The  mosaics are very bright as the background consists mostly of gold tiles while  the clothes are  in blue. Sailing even further east we could not resist revisiting the Aeolian Islands. Bad  weather forced us to stay there for a week, but it was not an issue.  Once the weather cleared  we sailed to Milazzo. This town is important as many tourist boats pick up passengers there for  the Aeolian Islands, but otherwise there is not much to see in this town. After a night’s rest  we passed through the Straits of Messina one more time. 
Egadine islands Trapani with Egadines islands  Erice Segesta temple Greek theater Maximo Victorrio Emanuele Opera St Rosalie Cathedral St Rosalie tomb Palermo Cefalu Top of this Page Previous Page Next Page