Apologies for the pun.
As a long-time fan of the television show, Golden Girls, Sicily was at the top of my travel list even before I officially formulated a travel list. From a young age, my favorite way to start a story was, “Picture it, Sicily, 1922…” the same way the acerbic matriarch Sophia prefaced hers.
Yet, for years Sicily wasn’t in the cards. I chose Rome, Florence, and Naples over making the trek south. Until recently, when I finally made it to Trapani.
Picture it, Sicily, 2022.
“TRRA-pany” my driver corrected. I had been pronouncing it tra-PAW-nee, which to him probably sounded like nails on a chalkboard. In my terrible Italian, I thanked him for correcting me.
“It’s okay, at least you try hard,” he said smiling into the rearview mirror.
My goal for the day was to make it to the archeological site of Segesta, which is an easy daytrip from the town of Trapani. I’d say the ride took about 20 to 25 minutes, which is a small price to pay to be transported back 3,000 years.
Spring had arrived and while the temperature was mild, the wildflowers were in full bloom.
But the flowers were the opening act. I was there to see the main event: one of the best-preserved temples in the world.
The 5th century BCE Doric temple rises out of the landscape, giving you the feeling like you’re among the first to stumble upon it. Though never completed (it has always been roofless) it is a great example of a Greek temple outside of Greece made by (possibly) fugitive Trojans who were recreating a building by memory. What is interesting is that they missed quite a few details. The most obvious being that columns weren’t fluted.
I could’ve stood there all day trying to solve this mystery, but there was a bus to catch. A complimentary shuttle takes you from the Temple to an abandoned theater at the top of the hill. If you are not as lazy or clumsy as me, you could also get there on foot, just note that it is quite steep.
The theater is set on top of a stunning mountain plateau and you can see for miles over the valleys below. Again, at first glance it may seems like a typical Greek-Hellenistic structure, but when you sit and take it in, you can easily spot odd differences, like the entrances are not aligned and the cavea (where people sit) is also not typical.
Listen, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t travel 3,000 miles to critique 3rd-century architects. Heck, if I had to recreate the Eiffel Tower from memory, I would end up with a radio tower in the shape of a waffle fry. My point is that months later, as I sit in the comfort of my home, ridiculously far away from Segesta, I woke up today thinking about it.
Something about this place stays with you. Isn’t that the reason we travel in the first place?
If you go
The main monuments to visit in this Archeological Park are the Temple and the Theater. The two areas are separated by Mount Barbaro. As an added bonus, when you get up the hill (either by bus or by foot) you will find ongoing excavations of the Ancient City of Segesta.
The tickets are € 6.00 for adults, € 3.00 for those ages 18 to 25, and is free for minors (only for E.U. members). At the time of my visit, I was required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.