263-264: And a Couple of M’s – Marsala and Mozia

263 – Friday 8th January 2016:  Marsala Wine

I still struggle with typing 2016!  

A peaceful night; little wind and just the noise of the sea.  K motivated (J encouraged!!!) to run 4km along the lungomare and J did a brisk walk at almost the same pace to test his calf muscle!  

After breakfast we drove to Marsala – the home of marsala wine.  We visited the town for lunch with the Aged P’s some weeks ago and planned to come back.  The motorhome services at the free car park had evidently not been in use for some time … full of rubbish.  There had been some gypsy children here on our last visit and J spotted a load down a alley way nearby and later we saw them washing clothes … we decided we would not overnight here.  So our tasting plans became a single tasting!  It was however, much enjoyed and came with the biscotti for dunking 🙂

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A little Fascist construction on the way out of Marsala – not in keeping with fine wines!


We are parked up at the free carpark for the ferry to the Island of Mozia.  The boat seems to only run in the mornings, so we enjoyed the views and the afternoon sun.

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The drive to the Mozia ferry was littered with fishing boats and large enclosed squares of salt pans.  Really pretty.

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Piles of salt drying

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J captured the sun set … it was stunning across the water

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The free car park at the ferry to Mozia, where we planned to stay.

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James becomes the author …

Unfortunately, by 6:00 pm-ish, we had become somewhat uneasy about some youths we had noticed earlier – lurking – and one had cycled past our car park many times…. as we were the only occupants, we decided to leave. Our rule is simple – if either one of us feels uneasy about the overnight location – we move. It has only happened 3 times in 9 months – not a bad average. We drove back to Marsala to a previous car park – but there were lots of gypsies camped and hanging around – all possibly very innocent – but motorhomers driving very expensive rigs do get nervous – apart from the possibility of personal safety, these vans are our homes…  now South along the SS115 (one of our favourite roads) towards Mazara del Vallo – and a blog advertised parking. On arrival, it was fine – very large in the port area – we parked next to another van – some gypsy caravans away on the far side of the car parking area. Relief at being settled for the night – glass of wine – and thanks to K for all the driving.

A quiet night – some fishing trawler noise, not much – but the bin lorries started at 4-5:00 am !!! I thought briefly of rushing outside – to tell them – “this is Sicily – you don’t empty bins !”  Sorry, Sicily – but sadly, it is true – mostly. It doesn’t detract from a wonderful country with amazing people. 

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The port overnight parking at Mazara del Vallo

264 – Saturday 9th January 2016:  The Young Man of Mozia 

No running in the am, but brekkie, etc relatively early on the quayside – and MV Chardonnay set sail north – back to Mozia….we motored (again) through various ribbon towns including “Casabianca” – yes Humphrey Bogart and ingrid Bergman should have been there in Rick’s Bar….. It does contain “The Good Fish” fish shop though – maybe we will visit sometime…meanwhile, on to the Mozia island…

Boat tickets bought – no discounts for us mature gentlemen – 5 minutes at sea in the good ship “Jessica” – and landed at the erstwhile (1900s) country residence of Joseph Whittaker – the English anthropological gentleman who started the archaeological digs. That was way too many “…logical” spellings for my brain !  He was inspired – and the result is a exposed Phoenician city which lay on the great trade routes to Italy, Africa and further afield. All this – a civilisation 2,800 years ago when western Europe was how developed ?  The museum is very good – but the truly stunning centrepiece is “The Young Man of Mozia” – see photos.  Maybe the pics don’t do justice to this sculpture – which has toured the world – the detail is phenomenal – a real gem. One mile circuit of the island – many impressive remains of the city…..well worth a visit.

Coffee at the “Caffee Delia” – K snaffled my Mars bar (don’t tell Maddy !) – only 2,600 calories – I was treated to a KitKat – fair deal ?  Back to the van… 

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The windmills are prevalent and drained the salt pans.  A few are still working.

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The channel to Mozia

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The chiffon draped over the youth’s muscular form was amazing. Worth the island visit just for this.

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A terracotta Punic head … something or other big time BC 

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A now submerged causeway joins the island with the mainland.  The dots on the horizon are a shite of Kite Surfers (sorry could not think of another word to describe a group of kite surfers!).

Trapani beckoned – the first potential overnight area just didn’t seem to exist (it happens !) – where to ? – the port – always a good location. It was/is and we settled…. to jobs including my imitation of a vacuum cleaner – no, I don’t lie on the carpet nasally ingesting dust – that would save energy though – I use our Black and Decker – thanks again Diane and Grahame.  We had left a gap of some feet between us and the next door neighbours van – a reasonable space, we thought…  Two other sizeable motorhomes arrived and managed to compress themselves into the gap !!!  It’s called ‘Squeejy vans” – we may invent a new game….


256-262 : All the S’s … Seccagrande, Sciacca, Selinunte and Sitting Still

256 – Friday 1st January 2016:  Start of the New Year

How about this for a New Year’s thought … this will be my first full calendar year with no work or meetings and it is James’ second such.  And we have been travelling in Europe for 256 days now … just wonderful.

We had a leisurely start, given how much booze and food we had consumed last night, we felt remarkably well!  We said good bye to Frances and Edward, having roped in a passing young lad to take a pix of us all, who then shook us each by the hand and wished us Buon Anno.  We will definitely meet up with F & E again at some point.

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Frances and Edward – our booze partners of the previous two evenings!

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Chardonnay and Frances & Edward’s van in the Porto Empedocles free parking.

We did not plan to travel far and nor did we.  Parked in Siculiana and had a quick walk, but decided it was a bit rough looking so we did not even stop for a coffee!  There is a castle there, but since we had no intention of going round, even had it been open …..  We also decided against stopping at Eraclea Minoa.  Apparently it is in a lovely setting, but again it would not have been open and the Valley of the Temples yesterday had given us enough ruin viewing for a few days.

Dan had told us about a wild camp spot in a car park right on the beach at Seccagrande … 4 Italian vans who were just there during daylight and over night it was us and a German.  We basked in the afternoon sun and read … very peaceful with lovely views along the coast.

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257 – Saturday 2nd January 2016:  Sciacca and Pronunciation!

K ran along the beach road and we half breakfasted outside watching two scuba divers.  K made a bacon, vegetable and puy lentil soup for lunch … I love the pressure cooker.  And then we did a clean and hoover.  We passed over EUR5 to the nearby campsite to use the services and drove to Sciacca.  I got the pronunciation all wrong until James helped, with … it rhymes with SHAG HER!  This I can remember!  So the phonetic spelling is Shaka.

We have parked up at the harbour here.  Frances and Edward said there were 11 vans when they were here a few days ago … we are one of 14 and all Italian.  It is so large a parking, that we have been able to park facing some boats and not wedged in by other vans.  

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Again a lovely view.

We wandered around the town with no fixed plan and found lots of steep alleys (of course), churches, a market packing up, the town wall with several gates and lots of Palazzos.  It has an Arab influence which is evident in the architecture.  

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Stairs up ….

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 … up and up!

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Another quirky Christmas Tree … lot of fun in emptying the bottles!

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One of the old town gates with amazingly huge and old wooden doors.

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Yes really??? Cars are coming through this gap!  We still suffer palpitations from us wedging Chardonnay in too tight corners.

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We’d missed a market.  The rubbish they left was stupendous and horrendous …no effort to clear up after themselves …

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… but it looks like Bono of U2 is moonlighting as a street cleaner.

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The Arab influence is strong in this town.

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Part of the town wall.  What you can’t see is the modern blocks of flats built on top of the wall.

We so like the town and our parking (although we have yet to experience how quiet it is at night … I have read about noise from gnats [gormlous noisy adolescent turds] on mopeds on forums), there is a supermarket within 3 mins walk, so we plan to stay here tomorrow too.


258 – Sunday 3rd January 2016:  Sciacca Again

K ran and pilates’d in front of the van until she noticed her audience of local fishermen!  We wandered up to the old town for another walk and an ice-cream.  We both did lots of admin jobs and J started on the dreaded tax return!  Why is is you never quite have all the information you need on the first go.

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Have you ever seen thorns this size?


259 – Monday 4th January 2016: And Again!

J attempted a run only to realise his calf had done no healing … it is going to be a stay still day with ice and heat treatments.  Tax return for J continued.  Rain heavy on and off.  An admin jobs day.   K did a little walk and J joined her for a short walk for some air and a coffee.


260 – Tuesday 5th January 2016:  And off again … Selinunte

We made use of the supermarket and stocked up for the next few days with fruit and veg.  We failed to buy an electric heater for when we are on sites, as our on board heating always trips the site electric.  We did buy a basic set of weighing scales as K has been eating like a horse since the run up to Christmas and needs to scare herself with seeing the kilos pile on … so far the theory is, however, not working!  

Having free camped for 3 days at Sciacca, our black and grey water were pretty full.  Laundry bag full.  K’s hair needed a wash.  Motorhome service areas are pretty thin on the ground so we headed for a campsite near Selinunte.  We booked in for one night, but the washing machine took such a long time to complete a cycle it was night fall before both loads were done.  It rained in the night too, so we had to retrieve all the wet washing and bring it in :(.

BBQ for supper though 🙂


261 – Wednesday 6th January 2016:  Sitting still in Selinunte

Awning out and the two loads of wet laundry dangling under it …. too much to dry off the bike rack and/or in the van, so we were set put for another day.

Rain on and off so we rested J’s leg, did more admin and planning.  Including booking K’s flight back to the UK to see her Munchkin in February half Term :).  We walked to the town in the afternoon for a coffee.  Pretty chilly so the BBQ chicken became chicken cacciatore!


262 – Thursday 7th January 2016:  Selinunte Ruins and Tre Fontane

Packed up and put away nearly all the now dry laundry.  Drove the very short distance to the ruins at Selinunte.  It is a large site with a lot of walking, so K explored alone whilst J rested his calf.  OK, so the Greek Temples in Paestum were the best.  The Valley of Temples was also fairly impressive, but a bit reconstructed and touristy.  But I really liked Selinunte.  It is barely restored, just a couple of semi restored temples. Most of the stones are still on the ground where they have fallen when the city was attacked by Carthage on 409BC or as a result of earth quakes.  This city was not pulled apart, nor stone recycled, for subsequent Roman rulers.  It was a city and a vast city.  As I walked around I could really get the sense of the scale and the importance of it, and in a lovely coastal setting.  As well as the temples, there are the huge fortifications, admin and residential areas.


Temple E 490-480BC: pure Doric style with 68 columns


Temple C 580-550BC:  the oldest and largest in this section


View across to the Acropolis 


View back to Temple E.  Odd stones stick up and a lot of the area is still to be excavated.





A couple of main roads with arterial roads off


Part of the fortification area at the North Gate


An artist’s impression of what the fortifications would have looked like … three floors for the army to shoot out of. 

The whole of the acropolis was built on a massive reinforced stone plinth


We lunched on pea and mint soup in the car park and then drove the short distance to Tre Fontane.  A small seaside town with a long sandy beach; our Swedish neighbours had told us about the free overnight parking here.  The town is pretty deserted, but we found two open cafes.  We are not going to enjoy the beach other than the view (and the pinky grey sunset, as I type) as it is pretty blowy with the odd shower.  We are parked facing the sea and into the wind. I wonder if we will be rocked much in the night?