One of the things that impress me the most about Sicily is the variety of landscapes. In just 2 hours you have a complete change in your surroundings; at one point you are on a beautiful beach, the next you are high up in the mountains. After visiting the north western part of the island, where the main attractions were beaches, we moved on towards the central part of the North. We were based along the borders of the Madonie National Park; a park where you can enjoy some fresh mountain air and even go skiing (for a very limited period of the year though!) Along the way we stopped in Palermo to experience its colourful market. And what an experience it was! Our last ‘beach’ stop was in Cefalù before driving south gaining some elevation at the borders of the park to base ourselves in Castelbuono. Below is our itinerary for the day:
Sunrise in Alcamo Marina
We were based in Alcamo Marina for the first part of our trip. This seaside town, quiet during this period of the year was a good base as it was close both to Trapani and its surroundings and the peninsula of San Vito lo Capo. Alcamo Marina boasts an infinite beach, engulfed between two peninsulas. You can enjoy both a beautiful sunrise from behind the peninsula of Palermo and end your day watching the sun setting behind the peninsula of San Vito lo Capo.
Aerial view of Mondello
Yeah I know, this is not a good image 🙁 The weather was not that great, cloudy, windy..surely not the perfect day for the photo I had in mind of Mondello. Cherry on top of the cake, the road leading to the Belvedere of Monte Pellegrino is currently closed, so I had no option but that of stopping at a lower point (with electricity wires stealing the scene) and take this image just to have a photo of Mondello. Never mind, it won’t be my last visit to Sicily anyway!
The colourful market of Ballarò in Palermo
Luckily the plan for the day was not beach hopping. This was the highlight of the day: the colourful and loud market of Ballarò in Palermo. This market is an experience like no other; the show offered by the hawkers is amazing as they shout louder to attract the buyers’ attention. It is quite a popular market with the locals and you can buy anything from fresh fish or meat to vegetables to cheeses and spices; anything you may need to prepare a local dish. As a general rule for markets I do not advice visiting if you are easily impressed by blood or smells; some scenes were quite crude as you can see below.
Ice cream break in Cefalù
Just before leaving the coast we couldn’t miss a quick stop in Cefalù. Again the photos of the beach are awful as it was really cloudy by the time we got there. However this did not stop us from visiting this seaside village. Cefalù is a good place where you can enjoy a walk along the promenade and in the narrow roads of the village. This place is quite popular and you will find a lot of souvenir shops and restaurants.
After this short walk I will remember for my entire life the taste of the best ice cream I ever took in my life. I do not usually mention any names of restaurants or bars I visit, but this one really deserves the mention. The creamiest and tastiest ice cream of my life was waiting for me at a Gelateria Tentazioni along the promenade (Lungomare Giuseppe Giardina). Make sure to give it a try if you are visiting and you will surely agree with me. Note that the image of the ice creams above has been taken by my mother. I was too busy eating the ice cream to take a photo!
Sunset over the Madonie
This is a small anticipation of what we where up to next; the National Park of the Madonie. Where we were staying we had a beautiful terrace with this view! We were lucky enough to get some sunshine and saw the sheep grazing just in front of us. Just the perfect place to relax after a long and busy day!
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Wow! Where did you stay at Madonie?
We stayed in the outskirts of Castelbuono in a holiday home 🙂 I can send you more details by email if you are interested.