Northwest Sicily: Erice, San Vito Lo Capo and Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro

In this Sicilian travel blog, I will give you tips, information and inspirations on the Northwestern part of Sicily. In this part of Sicily: you can visit the mountain medieval village of Erice, chill on the beach at this main Italian holiday destination San Vito Lo Capo and explore the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro per boat. See below my route and tips and information on my accommodations, restaurants and places to visit in stunning Northwest Sicily!

View from Erice North Side Northwest Sicily Italy Travel Blog.jpegViews in Erice

After leaving Trapani in the morning, I drove up the mountain to visit Erice (750 meter). I drove via the steep and winding road up the mountain via the East side, with a convertible car with open roof; made me nervous to drive it. Never had this before, but realized I was very vulnerable. The way down was less winding and steep, suggest you drive that road both ways.

Tip: Take the SP31 road on the West side of the mountain and not the SR1 from the East side (passing the village Valderice).

Tip: Or take the cable car from Trapani (9 EUR round trip) instead of the car.

View over Trapani from Erice Northwest Italy Travel BlogErice is a stunning 12th century village with amazing views from all sides; you can see Trapani including the Egadi Islands and the beautiful bay more north. Erice has a great history, passing Elymians, Phoenicians, Greek and Romans. The Norman fortress, Castello di Venere or Castle of Venus, was built over an ancient Roman temple; a real eyecatcher right on the edge of the mountain. The attached Garden of Balio is worth to walk around and stare at the views.

Castle of Venus Erice Northwest Italy Travel BlogCastle of Venus view Erice Northwest Italy Travel BlogStrolling through a maze of the stone-paved streets, you will imagine yourself in the medieval times. Erice is atmospheric and has a good vibe with nice souvenir shops and of course the famous pastry shops with dolci ericini (almond sweets). Which I had to try of course, loved the almond cookies of the Pasticceria di Maria Grammatico; the world-famous cake shop.

Steets of Erice Northwest Italy Travel BlogDolci Ericini Erice Northwest Italy Travel BlogPassed the Chiesa di San Giuliano church and somewhere along my walk, passed the Piazza S. Domenico. All the alleys and building are well maintained and beautiful restored. Erice is a touristic place even during these strange Covid-19 period it was still a busy and vibrant place. But the atmosphere is good here, with enough nice shops and restaurants.

Chiesa di San Giuliano Erice Northwest Italy Travel BlogPiazza S. Somenico Erice Northwest Italy Travel BlogTip: Pick you time wisely to visit Erice, the mountain can be covered in clouds and mist which will be dramatic too but preferred the sun for the views.  

La Tonda Fritta Arancini Erice Northwest Italy Travel BlogAfter my almond cookies I was into some small savory snack for lunch; arancini! Next to the Porta Trapani you can find La Tonda Fritta, where they offer arancini (3 EUR) in many different fillings; loved them. Time to drive up North to chill at the beach.

 Sunbathing in San Vito Lo Capo

I didn’t want to go down on the East side of the mountain and went back to Trapani, where I took the SP20 into the bay I just saw from above. The SP20 changed into SP18 and then SP 16 all the way up to San Vito Lo Capo. You will pass immense stone rock structures of the Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano. Then I arrived at Belvedere Bue Marino, what a view over this bay with the rock in the back and the beautiful blue and turquoise waters; judge for yourself.

View Bue Marino San Vito Lo Capo Northwest Italy Travel BlogFirst things first, park my car in this busy and car free centre of San Vito. My hotel suggested to park my car at the nearby Parcheggio Fontana for almost two days 14 EUR. That was a good suggestion, you can park outside the city centre but then you have to walk or give you keys to the people of the parking lot, which I don’t like even when it is a rental car.

Corallina Beach San Vito Lo Capo Northwest Italy Travel BlogMain Street San Vito Lo Capo Northwest Italy Travel BlogSan Vito Lo Capo is popular and busy holiday destination in Sicily; full of beachcombers and sun worshippers like me. The beach is crescent shaped with golden sand, full of uncountable colorful sun loungers and umbrellas. They say this beach is one of the prettiest in Sicily with the turquoise and ultramarine waters and with the dramatic rock Monte Monaco in the back. This mountain is popular with climbers, I prefer to chill on the beach and cool of in the sea, after a long day.

Monte Monaco San Vito Lo Capo Northwest Italy Travel BlogTip: Go local and rent one of the hundreds sun lounges and umbrella for ±15 EUR per day and chill among the Italian families. 

Where to Stay and Eat

I booked the lovely and very friendly accommodation of Il Mare Dentro Rooms for 100 EUR per night including breakfast. The accommodation is brand new and in the centre of San Vito. The style is comfortable, luxurious, fresh and beach designed. The breakfast was very extended and well decorated. I booked two nights; loved it here!

Il Mare Dentro Rooms San Vito Lo Capo Northwest Italy Travel BlogBe Aware: Due to the popularity of San Vito, prices are higher than in the rest of Sicily; mainly accommodation and food. 

I had a seafood pasta for dinner at U’ Spiticchiu. I was attracted by the nice seating outside, not on the busy main street but on the quieter Via Duca degli Abruzzi. The pasta was good, but it was a busy place, so service was a bit lacking, but I didn’t mind. There are uncountable restaurants and bars here in San Vito and for every budget you can get your meal; takeaway pizza’s or top-notch restaurants.

Boat Tour Riserva Naturale dell Zingaro

During my stay a big part of the Riserva Naturale dell Zingaro was burned down. I asked around but again, not many people speak English, and nobody really wanted to comment on why is was burned down; they told me it was all about the money. This park is the first natural preserve in Sicily and very popular with nature lovers and hikers. You can spot a lot of wildlife and flora in the area, that it why it was so sad that the park was burned down.

Burned Riserva Naturale dell Zingaro Northwest Italy Travel BlogDue to the fires the park was closed and the only way to see the park was via boat; for me it was the preferred way to visit the park anyway! I booked San Vito lo Capo Escursioni by Leonardo for 30 EUR per boat trip, which goes twice a day morning and afternoon; I had the 14:00 shift which was perfect. There were about 20-25 people on board on a big luxury boat with nice deck to chill; only all Italian again. All the guide information was provided in Italian and not everything was translated in English to me, but still I loved the journey on the boat and in the water.

Cala dell Uzzo Riserva Naturale dell Zingaro Northwest Italy Travel BlogThe boat leaves the port of San Vito Lo Capo and we pass the main beach Corallina. After looking at the hundreds of sun umbrellas we turn around the corner of Punta Solante to the east side to Torre dell’Usciere. These are the first Saracen towers that we will spot during this boat trip. After spotting a plant where a former fish was processed, we head to Lago di Venere. Now are we heading to the Natural Reserve of Zingaro; a reserve where there is no presence of a coastal road.

Faraglioni di Scopello Riserva Naturale dell Zingaro Northwest Italy Travel BlogThe coast consists of a couple of deep coves with stunning views and adjacent beaches. We swam for the first time here at one of the caves Cala dell’Uzzo. Loved the coastline and great to swim here in the azure blue waters. We pass more caves and we reach the furthest point of the trip Faraglioni di Scopello. Here you can see fascinating ancient building on rock formation on the coast and towers on rocks in the water. Time to jump into the water for the second time! Time to head back to San Vito; we went back in one go and arrived in the port around 18:00. An afternoon well spent!!!

Tower of Faraglioni di Scopello Riserva Naturale dell Zingaro Northwest Italy Travel BlogHeading your journey to West Sicily like me or to the Palermo Area?!

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