Day 76 Finale, Sicily to Matera, Basilicata

Yesterday was our last full day in Sicily, and I will remember it for all the wrong reasons. I hadn’t been feeling well the day before in Erice, with the walk in the clouds definitely aggravating my chest. By the time we woke up yesterday morning, I was feeling crook, but nonetheless we continued on with our journey, conscious that we have a ferry to catch in a few days time from mainland Italy.
In the morning, it was bright and sunny, so we decided to explore part of the Zingaro Nature Reserve, which sits at this far north western tip of the island. If I’d felt better, we would have done some of the coastal path, but instead headed for the sleepy little village of Scopello. There are no roads in the reserve, and rumour has it that the Mafia used the coast’s coves and beaches for smuggling drugs and other contraband. It is suggested also, that the area was only given Natural Reserve status after the nod from the Mafia, but who’s to know? But yesterday, there were no signs of criminal activity, only two local men past asleep on chairs sitting round the small central square. There were a few pleasant cafes, with lovely vistas of the coast below, and behind, stunning mountains with a large watch tower positioned above the village. After coffee, we headed down to look at the coast, with three rock pinnacles sticking out into the azure Tyrrhenian Sea.
Starting to feel increasingly unwell, we headed eastwards towards Palermo along the coastal motorway. I must say, it must be one of the most picturesque motorways I have ever travelled on – for mile after mile it was fringed on both sides by flowering mimosa – quite a sight. Throughout our time in Sicily, we have seen locals picking what we thought were herbs or wild flowers at the side of the road. It turns out it is wild asparagus – I’m sure a real delicacy.
By the time we reached our campsite east of Palermo, I felt truly dreadful, one minute hot, and the next shivery. At no other time in this trip have I wanted my own bed so much! Howard put the bed down in the roof, administered copious quantities of drugs, and put me to bed. I think I slept from 3.30 in the afternoon until 9 o’clock this morning, with a brief wake up to decline my blog post! This morning, thankfully, I was feeling a whole lot better, and even more so, when I heard the news that I am going to be a great aunt again! The view from our van was also quite spectacular.
We set off for Messina, and after some very confusing signage to the ferry port, we drove straight onto the ferry, being the last vehicle to board. Within half an hour, we were back on the mainland, having waved a fond farewell to Sicily.
I think so far, it has been my favourite destination. It is stashed with history, has some stunning scenery, and the people were universally warm and friendly. I would thoroughly recommend it.

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