Published on April 4, 2012 | by Andrea Guerriero0
A boat trip around Egadi Islands – III
We are in Favignana, the last stop of our sailing tour of the Egadi Islands. For we who live in Milan, Favignana is a second home. Here we have lots of friends: old friends, like Mauro (aka Gigio) who owns the only newsstand on the island, and new, as Rino, Cristina, Uccio, Giovanni, father to Vanessa, who’s in turn Gigio’s wife, Vincenzo and Anna, the blonde taxi driver, always sweet, but with the attitude of the manager.
Day 6 – Favignana
We dock in the harbor of Favignana in late afternoon. It’s the first time that we arrive on the island without getting off a Siremar or Ustica Lines hydrofoil. Our first stop is a visit to Rino, at Amici del Mare, a restaurant on the harbor, to enjoy the first of many classic Campari&white wine. We decide to drink the second one in Piazza Europa, the town square hosting the Town Hall. We have the third along Via Mazzini, the street of love for young couples. The fourth on Piazza Madrice, where is the church. The path covers 150 meters in total. At that point, 10 pm, it’s dinner time. We go back to Rino’s.
At Amici del Mare we find everyone: Sabina Guzzanti, an Italian actress who often spends her holidays here and has a house right after the tunnel, throngs of famous journalists with “you know who I am” written on their face, Carabinieri and Police officers, and even gangsters. Yes, exactly. Because Favignana is a sort of free port where any sort of people come from Trapani’s coast to spend Saturdays or Sundays. But it’s mainly thanks to RyanAir if Favignana has become a so popular tourist destination. There are groups of friends and elders from Bergamo and Bologna, who since the beginning of the year book dozens of weekend flights to Trapani at bargain prices. Whether they’re forced to skip a couple of trips for unforeseen events, this method is still convenient for them.
Favignana – A butterfly on the sea
The shape of Favignana resembles a butterfly, with wings starting from a central mountain range with tops reaching up to 300 meters, including Mount Santa Caterina. On top of the mountain there is a fortress that should have become a hotel and restaurant: after creating a stone staircase, even with lights, to reach the top with construction materials… they ran out of money. Nowadays, the summit of Mount Santa Caterina remains a wonderful spot for a pleasant walk, with a magnificent panorama of the Mediterranean in the background.
Tired of sailing, we decide to spend our day between Rino, the Playa and a gathering with our usual friends. If we were not engaged in these grueling activities, Favignana’s tourists attractions would include: the Hypogeum gardens, gardens arose under the ground level inside the tuff quarries, the area of St. Nicola, hosting an archaeological site and necropolis, the labyrinth of caves in Cala Rossa, the Tonnara, recently renovated and venue for events and conferences; Villa Florio, an Art Nouveau style villa dating back to the second half of 1800, the aforementioned Monte Caterina, and of course all the creeks, coves and beaches accessible by bicycle or motorbike hired by Andrea in Piazza Europa. The day went by too quickly, even the evening, the night, of course, is very short.
Day 7 – Favignana – Trapani
Leaving the island is always so very sad. Even because, leaving means getting back to work and responsibilities, which, although agreeable activities, may possibly never be comparable to the tourist life on the island. The morning is therefore a succession of “goodbye”, “see you on Facebook,” and the temptation of having our last Campari at 8 o’clock in the morning. Instead, we opt for a last stop at Beppe and Giovanni pastry shop, for yet another huge cannolo.
The journey from the small island of Favignana to the large island of Sicily is pleasant but hushed: everyone is immersed in thoughts, about what has been left and what to expect.
Captain-Daniele is quiet, even the crew, the sea goes along with us. We arrive to Trapani in mid-afternoon. We leave the delivery of the sail boat up to the captain, who reluctantly takes off his uniform and gets back to his existence as an ordinary man. In the evening, after the usual walk on Trapani’s promontory, we get to the hotel.
Day 8 – Trapani-Erice
The alarm clock rings at 9: we are going to do absolutely nothing all day, we will be just hanging around waiting for our evening flight to Milan. We decide to visit Erice, none of us has ever seen it, due to the usual rush of getting to Favignana and stay there until the last possible moment.
The historic part of Erice is at the top of the homonymous mountain beyond Trapani. It can be reached by a cable car (6.50 Euros round trip) opened in 2005 on the track of an old line closed for thirty years. Legend has it that the city was founded by Aeneas, and then largely appreciated by Phoenicians, people from Syracuse, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Normans. Tens of thousands of Italian and foreign visitors, every year, wander the narrow streets of this village overlooking the valley and the sea. The main attractions include the church Matrice, dating back to the fourteenth century, the Castle of Venus (twelfth century,) the ancient walls along Via Addolorata, the archaeological museum within the town hall and of course the town centre, with souvenir shops and restaurants boasting… a very special tourist vocation.
Around 4pm, we call our taxi driver Pisciotta to reach Birgi airport. After the Libya War of 2011, the civilian airport was closed for a few weeks, and many flights were canceled for several months. Today Birgi, recently renovated, is free from commitments and fully accessible.
When the plane takes off, the lights of Trapani, the cable car to Erice and the Egadi Islands wave us goodbye. There is a bit of gloominess in the air, but even the self-assurance of always having a “run away” where to go to purify our minds. A little less our livers, but it doesn’t matter.
Photo by manuel | MC