Traveling Europe as an American lends itself to many fairytale moments. Everything is just so old – the style of buildings are those that we’ve really only seen in books and movies.
The Sicilian countryside definitely gives storybook vibes with its beautiful old buildings, dramatic cliffs and hills, green vineyards and turquoise waters. On our first full day in Sicily, we got to take it all in on a day tour from Palermo to Erice, then to a beautiful vineyard, and finally to Segesta. It was stunning.
Grey skies greeted us our first morning in Sicily. We set out on foot from our Airbnb in Castellammare to our tour meeting spot, right next to the beautiful Teatro Massimo. There we met our guide and our two fellow tourists, also American. We loaded into the van and set out for our first stop: Erice.
It was a cloudy morning as we made our way through the streets of Palermo out past the airport into the countryside. In daylight, we were able to see the stunning cliffs and rock formations that had been just shadowy and dark outlines the night before on the ride into the city from the airport. We drove along the coast most of the way, then travelled inland for a bit where we kept passing ancient ruins upon hilltops. It was remarkable and beautiful.
After an hour or so, the little van started winding its way up one of the dramatic mountains. We drove along with motorcycles speeding by us, twisting and turning along the road up the mountain.
Luckily for us, the lookout point we stopped at was still beneath the clouds and fog. We took pictures then got back into the van. Up we went, into the clouds.
When we arrived in the town of Erice, we couldn’t see anything! It was covered in cloud and fog and the wind was whipping. I was so glad to have long sleeves, a coat and a scarf! We tasted some pastries in a shop, then were given time on our own to explore.
We took to the beautiful stone streets to walk further up the hill. According to the small, hand-drawn map our guide gave us, the major sight in Erice appeared to be a castle.
Church steeple disappearing into the fog and cloud!
Somewhere along the way, we stumbled upon a model of the town in days gone by in an old church. This exhibit helps raise money for the restoration of the church. It was hauntingly beautiful.
Thinking that we could wander into any church-like structure, as you can in most of Europe, we popped into one such church. A large group of elderly Italian tourists noticed and followed us in. Turns out there was a conference being held there and no one else was supposed to go in. Pandemonium broke out as they tried to tell us and the others we shouldn’t be in there in two different languages… oops!
After a half hour or so of wandering through the small streets of the town and a stop for pants for one of our tour group (it was that much colder than Palermo!), we made it to the castle, Castello di Venere. The wind was whipping harder than I’ve ever experienced! It really added to the stark and dramatic feel of the stone castle and made for hilarious photos of my hair.
Our dear friend Jeremy was travelling with us! The fog started to clear and reveal the stunning views beyond.
Once we had our fill of the beautiful stone structures and views between the clouds, we started our descent back to the van.
The sun came out as we made our way through the countryside, past the salt flats, to the restaurant at Agriturismo Sanacore for lunch.
We were served traditonal Sicilian antipasti to start, with a special gluten-free plate for me!
The main course of pasta was served after and it was fabulous. Gluten-free for me again! Our lunch ended with fresh orange slices for dessert.
We enjoyed the company of the property’s pups! After our lovely and delicious meal, it was back into the van for our final stop of the day: Segesta.
The magnificent Doric temple at Segesta dates back to the 5th century BC.
The temple is nestled among hills in the beautiful countryside. We were lucky the sun was shining!
After viewing the temple we decided to hike up to the archaelogical site to see the ampitheater and take in the views!
You can take the bus, but we opted for some exercise.
It was a lovely day and we made it back to Palermo by 5 pm. I highly recommend it!