May 2, 2015 – Selinunte and Trapani

All aboard for the next day of sightseeing!

John by train with train station hotel in background
John by train with train station hotel in background

Today we plan to go to Selinunte, another Greek temple site. We have some difficulty driving there as part of the roadway is shut down due to a collapse and then later there is a serious traffic accident. The infrastructure in Sicily seems to be crumbling in real time. Various sections of roads are single tracked or have warnings due to road and bridge failures. So instead of taking the main highway to Selinunte we are diverted onto surface streets that are very narrow and crowded.
Trying to merge to get through the town gate at Sciacca. (pronounced Shaka)
Trying to merge to get through the town gate at Sciacca. (pronounced Shaka)

We arrive at Selinunte about 40 minutes late but it doesn’t really matter since we don’t have some schedule to keep (except in my mind.)
The audio tour here has also been discontinued and replaced by a downloadable tour for E3,99 available on Android phones only. There is no wi-fi to connect to and roaming upload speeds and prices for American phones make it prohibitive. There are a couple of placards.

Selinunte has also been sacked by the Carthaginians in the late 400’s B.C. The temples here are terrifically large and we wonder how the Carthaginians ever managed to pull them down. The most in tact temple is undergoing restoration so we cannot go inside. The other temples lay like gigantic puzzles on the ground. We can see how they have been put together with a block and peg system. It is a pretty walk among the ruins with the wild flowers totally in bloom.

Temple being renovated
Temple being renovated

Second temple
Second temple

Sarah next to a column piece
Sarah next to a column piece
Gigantic temple pieces
Gigantic temple pieces

Beautiful wild flowers
Beautiful wild flowers
Stone Legos
Stone Legos

After a brief stop at a McDonald’s we head to Trapani which is on a point of land sticking out into the Tyrrhenian Sea. After checking into our hotel we take a walk down to their cathedral, San Lorenzo. Saint Lawrence (San Lorenzo) was martyred by being burned to death on a grill. Myth has it that he quipped while burning, “Turn me over I’m done on this side.” The church is 15th century but has been largely redone. In the middle of the main apse are Hebrew letters spelling out Yahweh. (It’s handy having John around.) That’s the Hebrew word for God.
Hebrew word in apse
Hebrew word in apse

We also go to visit a salt factory/museum. Trapani is the perfect spot to harvest snowy white salt since the sea is shallow and there is abundant sunshine and wind. Other colored salts are inferior to Trapani salt because they are colored by the mud they lay in and do not have as good a mineral content. At least that is what the guide tells us. Before electricity pumping out excess water and grinding the salt was done by windmill. We get a thorough explanation and it is really interesting.
Salt evaporation pond
Salt evaporation pond
Windmills that used to drive the production of salt
Windmills that used to drive the production of salt

The salt dries over the winter with ceramic tiles over it
The salt dries over the winter with ceramic tiles over it
Sarah and John at the Salt Museum
Sarah and John at the Salt Museum

Once again we try to have an authentic dinner and manage only part of it. Our hotelier arranges dinner for us at La Mura by the old city wall. The antipasti is very good. The rest is okay. Once again we are joined by an Asian tour group who happens to be staying at our hotel.

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