Marsala, Italy

After a quick flight after dinner, Team La Distesa finally made it into Trapani, Sicily. The landing was the worst one I’ve ever experienced, but for 10 euros you can’t complain (yeah Ryanair!). We met Corrado and Valeria’s friend, Nino Barraco, a winemaker in Marsala, picked up our rental cars and off to Marsala we went! Nino was gracious enough to host us in his summer home, just south of Marsala in a small holiday neighborhood called Punta Parrino Sibiliana (closer to Petrosino than Marsala). I was eager to see the coastline but since we were driving at night and I was so tired, all I remember is seeing a lot of darkness out on the open water.

The next morning I took a short walk around the neighborhood. Just a couple hundred meters from the door was the water. I was so excited to soak my feet in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time that I ran right in…only to see Giacomo waving his arms and yelling “La Medusa! Guarda la Medusa!” (“Jellyfish! Look at the Jellyfish!”). I froze, looked down, saw the jellyfish SURROUNDING me, and ran screaming out of  the water. They were everywhere, including being washed up on the sand. I didn’t fancy the idea of staying in the water at that point so after enjoying some time gazing out at the water and laying out on the warm rocks, I moved on.

  

Suddenly, I realized I felt like I wasn’t in Italia at all. The square, stone buildings, faded with paint, the soft dust of air, palm trees and cacti, made me feel like I was in New Mexico. I’ve never been to New Mexico but that’s how I imagined it would be. There was hardly a soul in sight. I was standing in the middle of the road, hearing the sounds of the soft waves disappear and a distant clip-cloppity (yes I used cloppity) of hooves comes within earshot.

I looked over to see a single horse pulling a single wagon with a man seated in it. It was a beautiful sight. One of the moments that infuriated me for having a broken camera. I managed to get a far away shot with my phone, but it definitely doesn’t capture the feel of the moment.

We started our first day with Nino, with a visit the local food market in Marsala. I about cried here as well for not having a camera. Lisa got some GREAT market photos, but she doesn’t blog so unfortunately you get stuck with my crappy phone photos. Marsala’s architecture was really beautiful with strong influences from other cultures…the history beginning around 397 BC. Nino introduced us to the only place for street food in Marsala, serving up Panella (see food blog entry).

We picked up some fresh fish and shrimp in time for incredibly tasty lunch..you can read more about that in my Sicilian food entry. We stopped at a few more places on the way back to the house:

Salt pond (place where they collect sea salt for cooking!)

The warm, salty air, was welcomed with open arms. Dealing with the transition from winter to spring on a daily basis made me crave warmer/consistent weather. Driving through the vineyards, dipping our feet in the water…it all seemed like one beautiful dream montage that reminded me why I loved being outdoors. There’s just something in the air when you surround yourself with natural beauty.

A peak of the enjoyment of lunch

After lunch we went for a tour of the many vineyards that Nino owns. They were all so magical! Some were inland with beautiful soft red soil, others had a view of the sea. It was all incredibly breathtaking. Nino was such an AMAZING host, he treated us like his own family (SO Italian) and always made sure we were happy/well fed/taken care of).

  

Photo by Lisa Takata

And just when I thought we were returning home after dark, Nino had set up a wine tasting for us with a couple other importers. And so…we tasted.

What I always love about wine tasting is how different some wines can be just by vintage. And because I’m no sommelier, names of wineries don’t have much meaning to me. I can taste wines as they are without any prejudice based on previous knowledge. I have tasted some GREAT wines in my time in Italy and have definitely developed a pallet for the Italian wines, but it’s such a vast world, I try not to think about all that clutter and just savor what’s in my glass.

It was busy but tasteful first day in Sicily…now to the beaches!

 

 

 

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