Marsala is the centre of Sicily's prime wine-growing area, located on the south-west coast of the island. Also of interest near Marsala is the island of Mozia, located beside a lovely coastal road just to the north. I went through Marsala this afternoon, and camped in a field not far from it.
Although I haven't always been a good boy on my trip, so far I've managed to avoid any trouble with the law. I've been a victim of crime before, and I've gone to the police before; but today it was the police that came to me. After I accidentally found myself on the A29 autostrada (freeway) this morning — headed west from Mazara to Campobello — I suddenly and unexpectedly found myself getting pulled over by Sicily's Polizia Stradale ("Highway Police"). As I (pretty much) knew, it's illegal to cycle on an autostrada — and once you get on them, it's impossible to turn around, and impossible to get off until the next exit.
By the time I made it to the resort-ified coast south of Marsala this afternoon, it was getting late, and daylight was in scarce supply. This would have worried me, except that the weather was fine and warm; and the low west-coast horizon of the sea kept things light-ish for longer than usual. I found plenty of signs directing me to a proper campsite in the area: but these signs turned out to be incredibly inaccurate and confusing; and by the time I finally found the campsite (after riding around lost for ages), it was thoroughly shut down for the season anyway. What is it with Sicily in November, and shut campsites? Apparently, there are so few of them, that it's barely worth bothering to even try camping legally around here (and if you're not in a campsite, it's not legal). So I found an empty field a few streets away, and pitched ye 'ol tent there instead.
If the morning trek to Erice was hell on ice, then this afternoon's cruise down the Sicilian west coast was heaven with icea tea. Really, after lunch it couldn't have got more pleasant. From Paceco, I cut over to the quiet coast road that runs parallel to the main highway (and the autostrada), and cruised through what is apparently known as "The Salt Road". Signs on the road claimed that this stretch of road had been nominated for some "European prize in outstanding culture and environment" — I wouldn't go that far; but yes, it is a scenic area. And with a gentle coastal breeze, abundant sunshine, and light casual traffic to keep me company, I couldn't have asked for a better way to brighten up a tough day.
I had lunch (the usual last-night's pasta leftovers) in a sunny little plaza in the town of Paceco today, just south of the city of Trapani. I had the plaza all to myself — except, that is, for a funny-looking old geyser who was occupying the bench adjacent to mine. He sure looked like a poor homeless bum: he hadn't showered since before John Lennon died; he had a beard that seemed larger and less threatened than the Amazon jungle; and he was accompanied by the obligatory garbage bags full of god-knows-what. But when I offered him an apple, he declined, indicating that he'd already had lunch for the day. Maybe he wasn't a bum after all?