Trapani to Mazarra del Vallo - Springtime Spin in Sicily 2018 - CycleBlaze

May 20, 2018

Trapani to Mazarra del Vallo

We said our goodbyes at the Secret B&B and were on the road by 9:00am. The route today passes by the salt pans once again and then continues along the coast for most of the ride to Mazara del Vallo. The salt pans actually span most of the way from Trapani to Marsala so it is a significamt industry in this area. The smell of the pans is sometimes a bit strong, akin to a the smell of a mud flat at low tide on a sunny day. Fortunatley there was a light breeze to dissipate the strong scents. The technique of extracting salt from seawater was started by the Phoeneciams about 2600 years ago. It’s much diminished today, but in the mid 19th century they were producing 100,000 tons of salt per year. The WWF has a presence here today as the salt pans are also a refuge for wildlife, particularly for birds but also marsh flora and fauna.

Big piles of salt at the Nubia salt pans.
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More of the salinas.
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After leaving the salinas our route meandered along the coastal area, passing through fields of olive trees and vineyards intermixed with wild overgrown or abandoned properties. Flowers are ever present and really brighten up the landscape. There was a light breeze at our backsides today so it was a very pleasant ride.

The poppies in this field had attracted a group of flower hunters...with fancy cameras lenses.
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Aside from olives, vineyards dominate the landscape.
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Prickly pear cactus are also common along the roadsides.
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We were enjoying our coastal cruise on lightly travelled good quality pavement and we were chatting about how we felt we owed Scott Anderson for all his reconnaissance that encouraged us to embark on this adventure. Just then, the route turned off onto a side road and the surface took a dive. It was still rideable but you’d barely call it a road and it required some experienced bike handling skills. Soon thereafter, a dog slinked off the road and into the bush ahead of us. We coasted cautiously past him and we were relieved that he didn’t strike. Eventally we made our way back to a paved road. We had a chuckle that we had better not get too cozy on these roads. You never know when they’ll disappear and turn into a dirt track.

Paved roads can deteriorate very rapidly here. It got much worse.
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We passed through Marsala, where a market was underway. We safely navigated the mayhem which included a large group of Ducati’s out for a group ride. We thought of you, David Warnock, as we pulled over to listen and watch them pass. 

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The route hugged the shoreline as we got past Marsala. Locals were out sunbathing on the beach. The crystal clear water is a gorgeous turquoise colour. Along the shore there were massive piles of drying sea grass. Lucky for us that it was dry because I imagine there was quite a stench earlier in the year and it must have been a big windstorm to drive all this seagrass onshore. In some places, it was in the driveways of homes along the ocean road. They are not fond of cleaning anything up here so it may hang around for a long time.

The Mediterranean Sea is so stunningly beautiful.
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The other curiosity that landed on the beach is what I am calling beach potatoes. They are little balls of plant fiber of unknown origin. There were huge piles of these in some places.

Beach potatoes.
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Crystal clear waters here are so inviting. Not many people are actually swimming so it’s probably too cool for the locals. 

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When we entered Mazara del Vallo, it was deserted. It’s Sunday and people were taking a siesta, or so it seemed. All the shops were closed and there were few cars in the streets. We stopped in at a beachside bistro for lunch.

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We located our B&B without too much difficulty and were welcomed by Salvatore. Restaurants and bars are about a 25 minute walk from his place so he offered us the use of his bikes to ride into town for dinner. After a rest and a shower we set off on two rusted out bikes for dinner at a restaurant reccommended by Salvatore. The evening passaggiatta was in full swing by this time and we could not believe the crowds, both walking and driving. It was mayhem again.

We were the first customers in the restaurant at 8pm. Then at 9pm, it was like a huge game of musical chairs kicked in. The crowd outside began pouring in to the restaurant. The decibels went from almost zero to a full-on blast as everyone got seated and ordered their meals. We found ourselves in the middle of a huge family meal. It was quite an experience but the food we had ordered was still the star of the night. David had a pizza while I had the most delicious spaghetti with mussels.

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We didn’t have any lights with us so we rode gingerly back to the B&B and tucked in for the night.

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Today's ride: 65 km (40 miles)
Total: 181 km (112 miles)

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Scott AndersonHey, you’re staying in Salvatore’s place! I’m pretty sure that’s where we stayed too. If you’re still there, tell him hello for us.

And get used to back roads that go south on you. If you spend any time in the interior especially, today’s wont be the last.
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3 years ago
Anne MathersTo Scott AndersonYes, we have already seen a lot of slumping roads. Need to be super aware on the downhills. Haven’t figured out why they slump in the first place. We’re enjoying hearing about your adventures, stay safe.
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3 years ago