Iniziamo una rubrica da oggi che abbiamo deciso di chiamare la voce di April.
April è una giovane ricercatrice inglese che si è innamorata della nostra città, come darle torto, e in questa rubrica che avrà una cadenza fissa, lei ci racconterà con i suoi occhi e con la sua penna cosa è possibile fare, visitare, degustare, ecc…, ma non solo.
Lei scriverà ovviamente in inglese ed abbiamo deciso di lasciare il testo senza alcuna traduzione in italiano, perchè in fondo accoglienza vuol dire proprio capirsi anche in lingue diverse.
When I was 17, I moved to Indonesia to teach English, and ever since then, primarily for work or study, I have been on the move. Somehow it transpired that for nearly half of my life, I have lived out of a suitcase, studying, working, moving, changing scenes, learning new languages and ways of life. Tennessee Williams perfectly describes how this feels:
“I traveled around a great deal. The cities swept about me like dead leaves, leaves that were brightly colored but torn away from the branches.”
None of the places I have seen in these travels can compare to Castellammare del Golfo — the little blue paradise by the sea. Marcel Proust once said that the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Castellammare gave me new eyes.
I had intended to spend my academic sabbatical in Palermo, on the advice of a friend from Oxford. Palermo, my friend insisted, was the most beautiful city in the world. It had everything: culture, art, history, food, music. But after a month in the city, I felt overwhelmed by the bustle of traffic and the speed of life. I craved some quiet — an outpost — close enough to the city to visit friends, but far enough away to let my mind unfurl during the week. I wanted to paint. I craved beauty, and the comfort of close proximity to the seaside.
I had intended to travel all over Sicily (and did manage to see quite a bit), but something specific happened when I reached Castellammare. On the night I arrived, I sat in a restaurant by the Cala Marina at dusk, looking out at this lovely village as it seemed to spill gracefully into the sea. I felt certain I had never seen anything so beautiful before — there was no need to go any further or see anything else. It was if I was paralysed by this first glimpse. Two hours passed over a single glass of wine. Looking out at the water, I lost all sense of time. I imagined painting the Marina over and over, selecting the blues and yellows, changing canvases, starting again, getting it wrong every time, enamoured, spellbound. This, I think, is what philosophers call the feeling of the sublime. I decided to stay put for as long as possible. This first impression never left my mind, and I can almost see the Marina now, if I close my eyes: the necklace of lights trailing down Monte Inici, sparkling over the surface the water, tripping and tumbling towards the shoreline, down the sweeping staircase to the water’s edge, where the sea heaves slowly, as if dreaming, dotted with pleasure vessels and fishing boats.
To Do List:
~ Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro
As Sicily’s first nature reserve, Lo Zingaro is host to a stunning variety of flora and fauna. The biodiversity of the reserve is unrivalled in the area. Reportedly, there are nearly 700 species of plant to be discovered. Falcons, eagles, kestrels, sea birds, owls, foxes, hedgehogs, lizards, snakes, weasels, and many other creatures slither, crawl, flit, flutter, and shimmy thereabouts. I loved hiking there with friends. Pack a picnic and spend the day hiking, swimming, or both. There are coves and grottoes to explore — nooks and clear sandy beaches, azure seclusions carved into the limestone cliffs.
~ Terme Segestane
According to legend, the Segestan thermal baths — hydrothermal natural springs, welling up from the belly of Sicily — were created by the fluvial god Crimiso, in order to keep the object of his affection, the nymph Egesta, warm at night. Plinius the Elder is also said to have visited the baths for their medicinal properties. On a cool evening (if you come across one), you can swim in the warm medicinal waters under the stars. The naturally heated pools of water smell like eggs, but they’re good for you. You’ll leave in an unparalleled state of relaxation.
There are several obvious choices for a warm day in Castellammare. The first, nearest option is Marina Petrolo. This beach is admittedly a bit less idyllic than the beaches down the road, Spiaggia Playa to the east, and the pristine beaches of the Reserva to the west. Truth told, the best lazy option in Castellammare might be something a bit more rugged. On a lazy day, I liked to walk down a deserted little path to a quiet patch of beach just past Silos Ristorante, behind Ristorante Pizzeria La Campana, where you can lie on unpopulated patches of pebbly coastline. The water might be slightly choppier here, but if you like privacy on the beach, this is where you’ll find it. The ground is stippled with intriguing bits of painted tile.
~ La Tonnara di Scopello
The old tuna fishery of Scopello is a beautiful place to spend a quiet weekend swimming, hiking, or snorkelling. Accommodation in the Tonnara is pricer than in in Castellamare del Golfo city centre, and the building doesn’t offer wifi, but the views are unbeatable. I spent a few days there, overwhelmed by the beauty and quiet, swimming every day, reading, and chatting with both residents and tourists. It is the perfect place to clear your mind. Many of the rooms have windows opening directly onto the sea. At night, the water kisses the stone sides of La Tonnara, creating a natural lullaby. Swallows nest in the chandelier of the little chapel. For sandwiches, try Panificio di Stabile e Anselmo in town.
You can’t really go wrong. Buon Appetito!