Nestled in the south-west coastal corner of Sicily, Sciacca is a charming old town, famous for its artistic works of ceramics, and with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean from its refined plazas. I passed through Sciacca on my trip this afternoon, and camped in a field just past it during the night.
I couldn't help but notice the trees on the side of the highway, during this morning's ride east from Sciacca. Call me a delusional Aussie drongo if you want, but I could have sworn they were gum trees. Or at least — if they weren't — they were some kind of Sicilian tree that sure as hell looks an awful lot like a gum tree. I suspect that the latter is the case. How could they have gum trees in Sicily? I know they've exported them to California, to the UK — even to the highlands of Peru — but surely not to Sicily. Anyway, some of them looked to be going brown for the autumn as well — and since Aussie gum trees are evergreen, that would conclusively indicate that they're something else. Anyway, what do you think — gum or gunk?
Not long after the cement incident this afternoon, the day started growing late, and I started looking for tonight's illegal camping field. The coastal road east of Sciacca is a prime area for the prospective squatter: lovely farms and villages, all easily accessible from the main highway, and all offering divine sea views and sea breezes. I turned onto a side road a few minutes out of Sciacca, where I decided to go with a large grove of trees (there seemed to be grapes growing on the trees — but they were trees, not vines), shared by several nearby houses and overlooking the sea. Great site, and a pleasant night to follow a slightly crazy day.
By and large, this afternoon's cycling was some of the easiest and the most enjoyable I've done so far in Sicily. From the ruins of Selinunte, I continued east along the coastal highway, passing by lazy seaside farmlands, and with Menfi being the only sizeable town along the way. Then, just as I'd finished passing through the town of Sciacca, something very dramatic and very alarming happened. To my utter surprise, I suddenly found that I'd ridden straight into a patch of wet, liquid cement in the middle of the road, and that my bike wheels (and half my boots) were mired in the stuff. Aaaaagggghhh... YUCK!
Apart from getting stopped by police, I did also enjoy myself this morning in Sicily. From Campobello, I continued east, and stopped by at the ancient Greek ruins of Selinunte. Selinunte is the first of several Greek archaeological sites strung along Sicily's south coast — and like the ruins of Segesta further north, its highlight is a big columned temple. A single temple is the only structure that really remains intact today — but the rubble that makes up the rest of Selinunte shows interesting clues as to the site's former glory; and the scenic views of the surrounding sea and countryside is gorgeous. I can certainly see why they chose this place for honouring the G-ds, back in the day.