Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1087: Sicily in February
By davidx from England, Winter 2001
Page 6 of 14: Sciacca and Caltabellota
Near the top, Caltabellotta
Next morning I left by bus for Sciacca, not a long distance but one involving numerous diversions to serve small villages.
Sciacca is not a tourist town as such, although it does have an Information Centre. The downside of that is that it has no cheap hotels but I managed to get a room for a reasonable price by haggling a bit - almost certainly aided by low demand in February.
In general I must say that after the busy atmosphere of the festival at Agrigento, I was happy with the more subdued atmosphere of Sciacca. I decided to take a local bus to the mountain village of Caltabellotta and enjoyed walking around the upper part of Sciacca before the bus. I have rarely seen a church used as one end of a washing line - but it was here.
I think the Rough Guide uses a bit of poetic licence in describing the journey; I certainly didn't see the streams it describes. However the ride up a mountain was pleasant enough. As a general reflection, I felt that hilltop villages in Sicily were nowhere near as scenic from a distance as those in some parts of the mainland. That was the case here but once I arrived at the top of the village, it was as good as any.
The oldest part of the village is very high and there are buildings along a ridge, not a square foot of usable space being wasted. At one point there was a tunnel under the ridge and it was like being in two very different climatic zones at the two ends. The side the bus had ascended was very hot but on emerging at the other side I was battered by a really cold wind that I had not previously noticed!
On the cold side there is little to see close up. The distant view is great but it was not sufficient to hold me in that wind. Unfortunately on the hot side all the places of refreshment were closed for the siesta and I was gasping for a drink. I had to wait until I was back in Sciacca.
That evening I ate in a restaurant in the main square with an excellent view of the fishing village and the bay beneath.
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