I’m swimming in crystal clear blue waters, a shoal of fish playing at my feet. It’s a bit like our very own Blue Lagoon, but all the boats keep a distance away from the swimming area and the silence is blissful. I’m at the Isole Egadi, a 20-minute boat ride from the Port of Trapani, but before waxing lyrical about them I will backtrack to the start of this shirt Sicilian break.
We’re holidaying in Trapani mostly because we wanted cheap, shorthaul flight for a quick break. Ryanair, for all their faults, had cheap seats under E30 which would give us access to excellent Sicilian food and wine, a couple of museums and miles of beaches.
If you’re not too fussy and you don’t have any kids, you can get away with the small backpack that’s included in the ticket, which is what we did. Summer clothes don’t take up much space, happily.
We opted to stay bang in the centre, at Angelo Apartments on Via Roma. These are run by Turismo Trapani and offer the perfect base from which to explore the city. The airy bedroom comes with a balcony, ideal to share a bottle of wine in between exploring.
To give some perspective, Via Roma is kind of like Archbishop Street in Valletta but without the infernal noise. So basically you’re adjacent to the pedestrian area, with all the shops and restaurants right on your doorstep. Don’t worry though, this is a good thing and you will still be able to get your beauty sleep in.
Trapani itself is a lovely town that somehow manages to be both sleepy and touristy both at once. The historic centre comes with beautiful architecture, and quirky shop signs and facades. The day starts relatively late, and the locals are super friendly. Our favorite part of the day happens at around 8am, when Bar Il Salotto is open but empty, busily baking the fresh brioche. Which we don’t hesitate to decimate.
Breakfast done, we meander idly around the empty streets, taking photos before moving ahead to the beach of the day. The closest one to our apartment is Spaiggia Di San Giuliano, literally in the centre of Trapani. A narrow and long strip of sand, with a very shallow sea bed that’s perfect for those who prefer to take it easy or who have small children.
While lovely enough, this is by far the most modest. On the following days we explore various Cale (coves) a short drive or cab ride outside of the centre. Turquoise waters and rocky beaches that are pretty much empty make for an amazing swim. Our favorites – Cala Scoglio and Cala Nono Chilometro.
Trapani and around
What to do outside of Trapani? There are plenty of other towns like Marsala and even nature reserves like the Saline to explore. But the idea this time round was to take it easy. So we did, and we limited the meanderings to Erice.
Erice is a charming mountain town that has retains its medieval character. Simply walking around the narrow streets is a joy, and there are plenty of Instagrammable spots with views that extend all the way to the Egadi Islands.
Whatever you do, don’t miss out on dropping at the Pasticceria Maria Grammatica for a couple of warm Genovesi and a lemon granita before you leave. Visitors from all over the world come to look it up and for good reason.
Our other excursion outside Trapano was to the afore-mentioned Isole Egadi. This cluster of tiny islands, some of which are inhabited, remain mysteriously unspoilt. We were booked on a small day tour run by Rosolinomare. This particular tour takes only a maximum of 14 guests and I highly recommend paying a few extra euros for this experience if you can.
Throughout the day we visit about four different beaches, besides stopping for an aperitif on Favignana and an ice cream on Levanzo. Rosolino himself is driving the boat, and he peppers the day with anecdotes about every place we visit, and includes a yummy lunch spread with local specialties like arancini. Even better, while we’re swimming he spends the time looking out for any pieces of thrash in the water and fishing them out. Granted, these are few and far between and this is probably exactly why.
Trapani food & wine
It wouldn’t be a Sicilian break without food and wine, right? The centre of Trapani is more of a hearty and cheerful scene than a fine dining one. The good news? Excellent value for money. All the cocktail bars serve genuine drinks and a (really strong) Negroni was setting me back around E8. Sicilian wines are excellently priced and you can expect to pay between E18 and E22 for a very good DOC.
Most restaurants specialize in fish dishes. Be warned that they do love to put anchovies in everything, but it works (this is someone who usually can’t stand the stuff). Ristorante La Perla is one of our favourites, serving a gorgeous homemade caponata among other things. Don’t be scared of trying the hole in the wall spots that look like garages rather than restaurants. A case in point is A Nassa, known for the fritto misto dishes. For pasta and pizza, we recommend Pizzeria Calvino.
Onto the sweets. There are gelaterie aplenty, but if you want to make like a local go to the Colicchia and order a brioche with ice cream or granita on top. You’re welcome.
I know I promised museums. There are those too, in Trapani. But I guess we were just too lazy this time round, so we will just have to book another cheap Ryanair flight.