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Sycylia /nie/znana

/Un/known Sicily


/Un/known Sicily designed by Radosław Stępniak 2018


Content /6/ Sicily’s White Gold from Italy Magazine

/16/ Palermo Privata from The Guardian

/26/ Sicily’s Wild West from New Yourk Times


Sicily There’s an old Sicilian folk tale that goes something like this. A king had three daughters. One day, he took each of them aside and told them that, if they truly loved their father, then they would give him something extra-specially valuable for his birthday. When the day finally came around, he opened the gift from his first daughter and found beautiful gold jewellery. The second daughter gave

him diamonds and pearls. The third daughter, however, gave him a sack of salt. Not surprisingly, the king wasn’t too pleased with this ‘common’ gift and banished his youngest daughter to the dungeons. The girl had friends, though, and the palace cooks were persuaded to prepare all the king’s meals without adding any salt. After just one week of eating such tasteless offerings (the Italians


y’s White Gold would call the food ‘insipido’), he forgave his daughter, released her from her cell, and agreed that salt is, indeed, just as precious as gold or diamonds. Perhaps the story has a basis in fact, too. For on the west coast of Sicily is one of Italy’s last remaining salt ‘factories’. Experts suggest that salt-production, centred around the

shallow lagoons that lie between Marsala and Trapani, has been practised since as far back as the 14th century. There, the presence of a shallow lagoon and the absence of any significant tides (the sea level in the Mediterranean rises and falls by just a few centimetres each day) has allowed the Sicilians to build and maintain a series of pools known as saline. /7/


Salt Production The salt-making process begins by filling the outermost saline with fresh sea-water. Then, the constant coastal breeze and the hot Sicilian sun provide the ‘energy’ required to drive off the water. As the water evaporates, the remaining brine solution becomes more and more concentrated. Every few days during the harvesting season (which runs from June to September), the increasingly salty water is pumped into another salina nearer to the land. For centuries, environmentally-friendly windmills have been used to pump the salt water from one pool to the next and many of these windmills are still standing. Eventually, the briny water gets so concentrated that a crust of salt crystals begins to form on the surface. Further drying, at times aided and abetted by the strong scirocco wind that blows straight from the Sahara Desert and blasts southern Italy with the force of a hair-dryer on its hottest setting, soon removes the last of the water and the salt is then ready for harvesting.

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The collection process itself is well worth watching, and is easily visible from the minor road that runs along the edge of the saline. A group of the most sun-tanned, sinewy and weather-beaten Sicilians that you’ll ever see work for hours through the heat of the day. (In fact, the saline once provided a major source of employment for the locals). First, the salt crystals are piled into heaps about a metre high. This not only helps the salt dry more thoroughly, but also makes it easier for the workers to load it into their wheelbarrows. Then, once the salt is completely dry, it is shovelled into the barrows which are pushed to the base of an elevator. By means of a conveyor-belt, this machine lifts the crystals of salt and spits them onto the top of a heap. With up to ten men working each salina, the wheelbarrow traffic flows

non-stop. Eventually, huge piles of salt, up to three metres high, ten metres long, and looking rather like glistening white haystacks, or ‘salt dunes’, are built up. To protect the finished stacks from any rain that may fall, a makeshift roof of loose terracotta tiles is then laid over them. It is estimated that ten hectares of working saline (equivalent to the area covered by about 20 football pitches) can produce around 1,000 tons of salt a year. That’s a lot of shovelling – and an awful lot of salt. Imagine working all day under the heat of the sun, in the driest, saltiest environment you can think of - and then think of finishing the day’s work, retiring to a shady bar, and sinking that first long, cool drink…


Sightseeing Fortunately, visitors can get a flavour of the saline without breaking sweat. And the juxtaposition of the white ‘salt-dunes’ and their orange tile roofs contrasting with the blue sky is a sight to behold. The saline themselves add colours to the scene, too, changing hue as the brine they contain gets more and more concentrated. Some pools reflect the azure blue of the Sicilian sky, while others are tinted with shades of pink, purple, dark blue and, of course, white. Seen at sunset from the nearby hill-top town of Erice, the view of this multi-coloured checkerboard is both inspiring and enchanting. Some of the windmills have been restored. At the town of Nubia, a ‘Museum of Salt’ has even been set up inside one of them. As well as explaining the salt-making process, it contains examples of the traditional baskets, shovels and wheelbarrows used by the workers. The whole area, in fact, resembles a kind of working ‘industrial museum’. Near Mozia (spelled Mothia on some maps) there’s also the opportunity to visit a working salt pan.

source: Italy Magazine /13/


P P


Palermo Privata It sits on the north shore of Sicily on a fanshaped stretch of land between two towering stone promontories, and it’s been there, in one form or another, for almost 3,000 years. Empire after empire has trodden upon the place: Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans; then Vandals, Normans, Moors, Spaniards; then Italians, the United States Army; and since the end of World War II, Cosa Nostra, whose influence over the place is only recently waning. For millennia it’s been built up and knocked down, robbed and bombed, patched up and left to fend for itself. So it is a spectral city, a city of ghosts and ruins, amid which the living citizens slip quietly and for the most part without expression; an inward city, not unkind but very private — Italia insulare, as they call it. Palermo can be very beautiful, in a decaying, Hubert Robert way; on sunny days the sky overhead is Mediterranean enamel blue; the food is wondrous. But above all, Palermo is full of secrets and very strange. Even notional comparisons are hard to come by and incomplete. Like Naples, Palermo is famous for its depredations, its crime and its unemployment; but Naples is far busier and more worldly. Like Havana, Palermo has the faint, heady air of isolation and rotting elegance. But Havana is wide open, a city seemingly without interiors, whereas Pal-

ermo is nothing but: for all its markets and sidewalk restaurants, it feels as if most of life takes place indoors, behind curtains. Wandering through one of Palermo’s outdoor markets one afternoon, I was hailed by a young man who asked me if I was Italian. I said no and he merely nodded, but he’d asked in English, so I stopped to chat with him. He had lived in California a decade or so before, and, judging from his black turtleneck and Iggy Pop haircut, time had simply stopped since he’d moved back. He presided over a small stall stocked with Sicilian staples: peppers and capers, fennel seed, infused olive oils, honey and homemade limoncello, but he seemed uninterested in selling me anything. We talked a bit. He shrugged matter-of-factly and said, “It’s like a third-world country around here.” “Otherworldly” might be more accurate. The city reminded me of nothing so much as Michelangelo Antonioni’s movie “L’avventura,” in which some young friends camp out on a tiny Aeolian island, only to find in the morning that one of their group is missing, though there’s no place she could have gone. They never do find her, the woman in the movie, and after a while no one wants to talk about it. Palermo is like that.

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Consider, for example, the Caravaggio. Fewer than 100 paintings have been attributed to the master, and one of them, a large, late-period Nativity, hung in Palermo’s tiny Oratorio di San Lorenzo. The day I visited, there was a small orange tree in full fruit in the courtyard, and the place was so quiet that the young woman selling tickets almost jumped out of her skin when I knocked on the doorjamb. She pointed out a sad, photographic reproduction on the far wall and then left me: the Caravaggio was the jewel in Sicily’s patrimony, and in 1969 it was stolen, by thieves who simply tore it from its frame. To this day no one knows who took it or where it is now — whether it’s hanging in someone’s palazzo or stashed in a safe deposit box or whether, as one Mafia informant recently claimed, it was hidden by a crime boss in a barn on his property, where it was gnawed on by pigs and rats, and finally burned in a fit of culturecide. Left behind in the San Lorenzo are a series of plaster sculptures by a Baroque artist named Giacomo Serpotta. They cover the walls and ceiling with three-dimensional allegories — embodiments of the Virtues, scenes from the lives of saints — a population of eddying stucco figures that look as if they’d emerged from swirls of vanilla frosting and then begun leaping and crawling, alive and addressing one another, like the figures in a Tiepolo ceiling painting come to life. They are not quite enough to make up for the missing masterpiece, but they’re spectacular and eerie, and possessed of their own peculiar genius. Little is known about Serpotta. He was born in Sicily in the mid-17th century and may have never left; he’s the kind of artist a city could boast about, but Palermo is not a place /19/


that boasts. It’s a place that takes the bad with the better. When I went into the San Lorenzo, it was raining; I was thinking about the Caravaggio; the day was crabby and dour. By the time I left the church, I was thinking about Serpotta. A swift Mediterranean wind had blown the clouds off the island. Down the street I passed a music conservatory named for Vincenzo Bellini, housed in an old building whose windows had been flung open to catch the fresh air, and the sound of dozens of students playing scales and snatches of opera drifted over the street — one of the world’s most pleasing sounds. To get around the city, you walk. Public transportation is spotty and cabs are hard to come by, and it’s a small place anyway, with a little more than 650,000 people. Besides, the side streets are barely wider than a man’s outstretched arms, the piazzas so tiny they feel like courtyards, and all of it is a jumble. Each succeeding empire built upon the remains of the last; then, toward the end of World War II, the United States Air Force bombed the place, destroying a considerable part of the center, little of which has been repaired since, leaving gaping holes through which you can see layers of time. Everywhere there are ancient arches that lead nowhere, lintels supporting nothing, half-collapsed roofs, walls gouged with shrapnel and peppered with bullet holes, a half block razed down to its foundations, like an abandoned archaeological dig. It’s not uncommon to see aged apartment buildings only half-occupied: one side reduced to rubble, the other occupied by families going about their lives. On the walls of buildings there is invariably graffiti, cryptic hollow-political slogans — “Masters of ourselves,” “You

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who have been warned, don’t give up” — rendered simply in black spray paint and signed with the anarchists’ encircled A, though the effect is more melancholy than fierce. Every morning I would leave my hotel and start walking, choose a direction and get lost, wandering for hours, poking my head into stores and churches, looking for something, finding something else. On the western edge of town there is a catacomb, where exhumed bodies are stacked in an underground warren. You pay a fee to a fat Capuchin monk in dun-colored robes tied with a rope belt, head down a flight of stairs and gawk at row upon row of bodies, clothes over bones, that have been propped up on the wall. But aboveground, and for free, there’s a small, overbuilt cemetery filled with elaborate tombs, each plastered with a dozen or so small photographic cameos, generations passed saying, Remember me, remember me. Near the antiques stores that line the Corso Alberto Amedeo lies the Palazzo di Giustizia, an enormous courthouse designed in the 1930s in kind of a high fascist modern — a fearsome thing when it was built, now mostly an architectural curiosity that lies sunraked like the empty piazze in a de Chirico. Down by the Vucciria, the city’s great seafood and produce market, I stopped to eat in a restaurant called Trattoria Da Totò. When I asked to see a menu, the waiter hastily scribbled some words on a piece of paper and showed it to me. I chose a generic frutti di mare and received, a few minutes later, a glass of plonk and a dish, consisting of a very dense, oily spaghetti scattered with mussels, squid, baby octopus and other intensely flavored sea creatures. I polished it off


without interruption, my only company a small piebald tomcat who begged cartoonishly at my ankles. It was that way everywhere: Palermitani do not pander. You don’t get hustled; you don’t get hassled; no one volunteers charming anecdotes or touristy pointers; no one asks where you’re from. Palermo is for loners, misanthropes, the faintly morbid, the fatalistic. One can hardly talk about Sicily without talking about the Mafia, which ran the place for the latter half of the last century and still have a hand in, though how much is anyone’s guess. Law enforcement estimates that 80 percent of businesses in town continue to pay some sort of kickback to organized crime. In the early ’80s, the Italian government began a concerted effort to eradicate the mob, and for a while there was something like open warfare. Dead bodies of suspected informants were routinely found in parked cars, and in 1992 two prominent Italian judges, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, were assassinated by bomb attacks. A huge roundup and trial followed, but the Mafia has been more muted than silenced permanently; a more recent wave of arrests is in full swing. The week I was there the police captured Gianni Nicchi, a 29-year-old fugitive who is believed to be Cosa Nostra’s second in command. Still, you needn’t be alarmed; the worst of it is pretty much over, and the casual visitor will notice nothing untoward at all. Moreover, the ebb and flow of organized crime has provided an opportunity for a new kind of ethical tourism. In 2004, a few young and very brave locals decided they’d had

enough and started a remarkable movement called Addiopizzo. Pizzo is the local word for extortion, and they simply refuse to pay it. Thus far, about 400 businesses have joined them. I stopped in one, a store named Punto Pizzo Free, run by Fabio Messina. “It’s starting to change,” he told me. “But the Mafia is 100, 120 years old, and we’ve only been fighting them for five years. So there’s a long way to go.” And how was the movement’s recruiting going? Well enough, he indicated, but there are still holdouts. “Many people say, ‘Mafia? What’s Mafia?’ They say, ‘What’s pizzo? I never paid.’ ” He smiled. “Then you know they’ve been paying for years.” It’s a subdued city. At night there’s little going on, except for dinner, which starts quite late: the restaurants don’t begin filling up until around 10:30. Walking back to my hotel, I would occasionally pass an American-style bar, stocked with locals engaged in what seemed like an elaborate imitation of high life. Otherwise the streets were empty. Then came Saturday, and with it the first real smiles I saw all week. It started with a few kids on scooters hanging out in the Piazza Ruggero Settimo, a grand square that serves as the city center. By evening there were dozens of them, sitting on the benches, laughing it up, making out. Then suddenly the streets were filled, the Via della Libertà, a grand boulevard stretching north from the piazza, teeming with sleek-looking men and women, the cafes crowded, noise everywhere, scooters revving — and outdoor televisions tuned to an important soccer game, Juventus versus Inter Milan. Make no mistake, Palermo is not in any way chic or hip, nor is it meant to be. But on that Saturday night, the residents /21/


had dressed themselves up and come out, and they were having a high time. The following morning, all was quiet again. In the old city, I came across a small flea market in the Piazza Marina, where one could buy little fragments of antique Sicilian detritus: painted tiles salvaged from abandoned buildings, lire notes, old cigarette cases and jewelry boxes. But by 2 in the afternoon, the merchants had packed up and gone home, leaving the streets empty, the restaurants closed. Outside the Botanical Garden, a pair of dilapidated mossy stone sphinxes stood sentry. There’s nothing so quiet as a small city on a Sunday, nor any place quite as endearing, and I was glad it was my last glimpse of Palermo. Riding out to the airport just before dawn the next morning, I saw a single word emerge out of the darkness, spray-painted on the stanchion of an overpass in the same black writing I’d been seeing all week, but it was the only one in English, and the only one that wasn’t angry. “Love,” it said.

source: New York Times by Jim Lewis

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Restaurants

Hotels

Antica Focacceria San Francesco One of the oldest restaurants, serving pizza and pastas. Via Paternostro 58; 011-39-091-32-0264; entrees $21 to $30. Cin Cin Fancier dishes like beef fillet with mushrooms and buffalo mozzarella and pasta with sea urchins. Via Daniele Manin 22; 011-39-091-612-4095; entrees $19 to $34. Kursaal Kalhesa A wine bar/bookstore/ restaurant on the edge of the water. Foro Umberto I 21; 011-39-091-616-2282; entrees $15 to $20. Osteria dei Vespri Ambitious dishes from roast suckling pig to pasta with guinea fowl. Piazza Croce dei Vespri 6; 011-39-091617-631; set menu from $115. Trattoria Da Totò Homey place for fresh seafood and local wine. Via Coltellieri 5; 011-39-333-315-7558; entrees $7 to $14. Trattoria Tipica Altri Tempi Classic Sicilian favorites. Via Sammartino 65; 011-39091-323-480; prix fixe from $34.

Grand Hotel et Des Palmes Old World institution where the French proto-Surrealist Raymond Roussel lived. Via Roma 398; 011-39-091-602-8111; doubles from about $311. Grand Hotel Wagner Slightly faded but still elegant neo-Classical building. Via Riccardo Wagner 2; 011-39-091-336-572; doubles from $426. Hilton Hotel Villa Igiea A converted palace on the water. Salita Belmonte 43; 011-39-091-631-2111; doubles from $280. Hotel Garibaldi Modern and close to the city’s shopping district. Via Emerico Amari 146; 011-39-091-601-7011; doubles from $282. Hotel Porta Felice A renovated palace with modern rooms and spa. Via Butera 45; 011-39-091-6175678; doubles from $135.

“/Maybe the whole of Italy

is becoming a sort of Sicily./ - Leonardo Sciascia, The Day of the Owl

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Sights Palermo’s most famous food market is the Vucciria. Serpotta’s frescoes can be found at the Oratories Rosario di San Domenico (Via dei Bambinai 2), Santa Cita (Via Valverde 3) and San Lorenzo (Via dell’Immacolatella). The Capuchin Catacombs (Piazza Capuccini 1) are a macabre tourist attraction.


Sicily’s


Wild West There was butter on the table, and portion packs of Nutella. But why would we eat the breakfast of a million international hotels when we could enjoy the real Sicilian experience? Locals’ breakfast in the fishing village of Scopello, west of Palermo, is bread still warm from the bakery, dipped in olive oil from down the road, sprinkled with salt and eaten with pecorino cheese and, of course, a good strong caffè. Marisin, our hostess at Pensione Tranchina in Scopello, also served homemade jam and cakes at breakfast, and her set dinners were a delight: pasta with herbs and various vegetables, followed by locally caught fish (sea bream baked in salt one night, huge prawns another), a palate-cleanser in the form of a huge chilled blood orange, then dessert, often based on that other Sicilian speciality, ricotta. We’d ended up in western Sicily out of cussedness. Everyone we spoke to about our trip to Sicily had said the same things: Cefalù, Taormina … You’ll love it, wonderful places … Taormina, Cefalù. When even a friendly young Palermitano on the plane repeated the mantra, we flipped. Sicily is a big place. It’s bigger than Wales, but there’s more to Wales than Snowdon and the Gower. So, from Palermo, we literally turned our backs on the tourist honeypots and headed for the „wild west”. /27/


Five minutes’ drive from Scopello is the Zingaro nature reserve, a 7km strip of unspoilt coast and soaring mountains where a friendly guide showed us how to spot the wild fennel used in the classic Sicilian dish pasta con le sarde. The sprig we picked was still fantastically pungent when we came across it in my husband’s pocket a week later. The reserve has a handful of impossibly cute pebbly coves, and three mountain refuges offering walkers free overnight accommodation. The village’s other draw is its picturesque Tonnara, or tuna fishery, with fishermen’s cottages and old warehouses round a small bay. Part of Ocean’s Twelve was filmed here, and Gavin Maxwell (author of the otter-tastic Ring of Bright Water) lived in one of the cottages in 1953, writing the cheery-sounding Ten Pains of Death. This was barely scratching the surface of western Sicily, however, so we headed for its hilly interior. „This is the real Sicily,” our host Paolo Barbon declared over a dinner of local, mostly organic, ingredients, looking out at mountains and starry sky near the hill village of Contessa Entellina. He was referring to the way the touristy spots to north and east are spoilt by tour buses, Irish pubs and Tex-Mex restaurants. But Paolo is not a real Sicilian; he grew up in Venice and worked as a chef in five-star hotels all over the world before moving here and buying an organic olive grove. On it he has built an eco-friendly B&B, with thick layers of cork for insulation. Called La Rocca dei Capperi, it is popular with cyclists and walkers.

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Next day was the feast of San Giuseppe in Contessa. The village band was playing in the streets, and people flocked to a makeshift altar on the piazza, bringing offerings of fruit, bread, pastries, frittatas. Just when the altar looked on the point of collapsing, a housewife would arrive with another groaning platter, and room would be found. People seemed delighted that we had found their festival all the way from London, and plied us with food, chatting about the old days, and the 1968 earthquake, when nearby towns were flattened. Eventually, unable to look at another plate of doughnuts or dish of roasted chickpeas and the exhortation „mangia, mangia”, we made to leave. A smiling young woman wrapped up two intricately shaped loaves of golden bread and thrust them into my hands. But if this was the real Sicily, why were we hearing a strange language, not Italian, or even Sicilian dialect? And why was the Catholic church silent and empty while it was standing room only down the hill at the Byzantine church, all incense, icons and Greek-looking priests? That, we learnt, was because Contessa is part of the island’s Albanian community, founded in the 15th century by mercenaries fighting for the island’s Aragonese (Spanish) rulers. Their language, „tabresh”, lives on. Real Sicily? Hmm. We headed back towards the sea, this time to Baglio Vajarassa, an agriturismo owned by Dino Agate, who grows vines on the coastal flats north of Marsala. He was at it, too. „This is the real Sicily,” he declared after dinner. We just nodded, feeling mellow after a meal /31/


that did seem to be the essence of the island: pasta with fresh artichokes and homemade chilli oil, a splendid grey mullet (caught the night before by Dino, out in his boat with a harpoon), and a beautiful lemon cake. But if this was the real Sicily, why did it feel like north Africa? Could be because it almost is: Tunisia is less than 100 miles away. Dusty villages have a Saharan feel, church towers look like minarets, and farmhouses are in the form of a baglio (a fortified house round an inner courtyard – very Moorish). There are kilims in shops and couscous in restaurants. Marsala is Sicily’s most westerly city, and while it has relatively few UK visitors now, Brits were big cheeses here in the late 18th century. One John Woodhouse, forced by bad weather to put ashore, got a taste for the local wine, which he thought would be as popular back home as sherry and port already were – an idea for which one N Lawson, domestic goddess, was to be grateful 200 years later. Dino brought out decanters of the famed wine after dinner. Turns out real marsala is dry and flavoursome – sugar is added to make the rather sickly exported tipple. It fitted with the flavours we had been enjoying all week: pungent herbs, citrus zest, capers, chilli. And one ingredient really brings out all the rest: local sea salt. From Dino’s farmhouse we could see the island of Mozia, in the Stagnone lagoon, famous for thousands of years for its salt. The local fishermen’s ferryboat (€5 return) to the island took us past vast saltpans dotted with picturesque red-roofed windmills, used to pump seawater. There’s a museum with a restored windmill, and in summer you /32/

can watch workers in wellies and sunhats harvesting the salt with wheelbarrows. The Phoenicians had a settlement on Mozia island. You can tour the ruins – excavated in 1888 by Joseph Whitaker, another marsala-trading Brit – and a museum includes a fifth-century BC statue of what must be the campest young man of the ancient world. The pouting Giovinetto di Mozia has pretty curls and a pleated robe, and although his arms are missing, one hand remains on one perfect jutting hip. (If old stones are not your thing, the peaceful island is worth the trip in itself, with its vineyards and tiny beaches. You can walk round it in an hour.) Marsala city (the name derives from Marsah Allah – Allah’s port) has pleasant pedestrianised old streets and lots of shops keen to have you taste their wine. Its other claim to fame is one of the world’s oldest warships: the wreck of a Punic vessel from about 240BC. Housed in the archaeological museum on the seafront, it was excavated in 1969 by, you guessed it, a Brit: the formidable-sounding Honor Frost, who died last year, aged 92. Brits, Albanians, Phoenicians, Arabs, Spaniards (Greeks and Normans were here for a while, too) … successive waves of settlers and traders were all probably prone to declaring after a good dinner that they’d found the real Sicily. It probably doesn’t exist, but the island’s wild, welcoming west is a great place to fail to find it.

source: The Guardian


Unusual places to stay in Sicily’s Wild West Tonnara di Scopello "When I first came to Scopello," Gavin Maxwell wrote, "I thought it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen." It hasn't changed much in 50 years, and visitors can stay in the original fishermen's cottages, a few metres from the sea. The houses sleep from two to six, with bathrooms and kitchens, but no TVs, telephones or air-con (+39 339 307 1970, tonnaradiscopello.com). Doubles from €80.

Casa Il Carmine, Erice At the entrance to the ancient, atmospheric mountain-top town of Erice, the rooms at this converted convent still feel a little like nuns' cells, in a good way – calm and contemplative. People report sleeping fantastically well. Simple en suite doubles cost from €60 a night, including breakfast (+39 0923 869089, ilcarmine.com).

Finestra sul sale /window on the salt/, Ettore Infersa Stay right on the salt flats at Ettore Infersa near Mozia, in three charming beamed rooms with stone-flagged floors. Doubles from €80 (+39 0923 733003, salineettoreinfersa. com); guests get free entry to the salt museum thrown in.

Agriturismo Anni Trenta, near Castelvetrano The 1930s never ended at this quirky farm in the south of the region. Interiors are furnished with period pieces, adverts, radios, while outside, as well as raising goats, sheep and pigs, the owners keep camels, deer, lamas, emus, armadillos and more exotica (+39 0924 46434, agriturismoannitrenta.it). Doubles from €52, half-board from €45pp.

Baglio Segesta and Tenute Margana, Segesta You definitely need a 4x4 as your hire car to stay at this pair of agriturismos: they're a couple of miles from the nearest road up a track for which the word bumpy is totally inadequate. But the owners – the two families are related and operate a more or less amicable rivalry – are charming and eager to please, and the food is top notch. Tenute Margana (+39 338 3293872, tenutemargana.it) has rustic rooms from €25 a night; Baglio Segesta (+39 347 716 3864) charges the same and offers a gut-busting set lunch for just €10 a head.

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