Riserva Naturale di Vendivari, Portopalo, Marzemeni, and Pozzallo, Sicily

Riserva Naturale di Vendivari, Portopalo, Marzemeni, and Pozzallo, Sicily

Continuing my trip in Calabria and Sicilia…

We left in the afternoon for Riserva Naturale di Vendivari, which is basically a nature reserve. There were paths through some swampy and wooded areas leading to a beach. The beach was really interesting; some squishy plant product covered the sand. There was also ruins of Tonnara. I’m dumb and thought the town was named Tonnara, since it had big signs saying “Tonnara” pointing to it, but turns out lots of cities in Italy, especially Sicily have a “Tonnara” just like they have a port or main square. It is where they fished for and processed the tuna. Obviously, right?

Anyway, Tonnara was really cool, it was basically just ruins that were open to walk through. There were very few other people there. We did pass a middle aged American couple. Before I could say hi and make friends they started talking about us, we were speaking Italian to each other at the time. Nothing bad, just making observations about us clearly in ear-shot in a “I assume you can’t understand me” kind of way. I figured it would be more snotty than friendly to let myself be known as a fellow countryman at that point, besides, I love when people think I’m Italian! (Though it’s only ever the fellow foreigners who do)

(Squishy beach at Vendicari Natural Reserve)

(The ruins of Tonnara in Vendicari Natural Reserve)

Next we went to the town of Marzemeni, founded by Arabs and an important fishing town up until the last century. This was a really small town. It was cute with a color fishing boats in the port. Now a small tangent, Italians do things certain ways and at certain times. I think it’s just that their culture is more homogenous. Hey, they are all Italian after all (except all the immigrants and tourists, of course, but we won’t count them since no one else seems to). This extends to taking vacation in August. In August everyone takes their annual vacation, the radical ones might go in July. Those who stay domestic, typically go south to somewhere with a nice beach like Sicily. Now my boyfriend has a shift-job so he takes his vacation at different times, also he knows me well enough to know it would be pointless to bring me to Sicily in the August heat. So this is June when we were in here. June is off season. It was most obvious in this town. On every street, there was at least one house being renovated, presumably in preparation for the peak season (we actually saw this a lot all over Sicily). Walking through the main square, the locals looked up at us funny in a “who are you?” kind of way. But Daniele loved it. He is convinced the smallest, most hidden, sometimes dirtiest, places have the best food. We actually came back here at dinner time and walked trough the whole town a second time looking for a place to eat. We couldn’t look the first time because restaurants don’t open until 8 PM typically, so we can’t see the menu. There are plenty of places in Sicly that every single thing they make is fish, which I don’t eat, so we need to see a menu before committing. We did eventually agree on a place called Aquaram, right on the port, where seemingly everyone in the town was eating that night. I had a delicious pizza and Daniele really liked his swordfish. Yeah, picking restaurants for our two meals out each day actually ate a lot of out vacation time.

(Colorful boats in the old fisherman village of Marzemeni )

(Church in the old square of Marzemeni)

In between we checked into our hotel in Portopalo, another town just down the road still on the coast, but we didn’t get to explore the town much until the next day. This was our one hotel without included breakfast, so we went to a bar where I got to try the traditional Sicilian breakfast of granita (Italian ice) and a brioche. Sicilian granita is famous for being especially fine and smooth. I don’t remember what flavor I got, but Daniele got the traditional almond flavor– it was so good I didn’t give it back after trying it!

After breakfast we went to the beach. The beach was not that special and kinda “ehh” but there was an island across from where we were. The couple next to us from Northern Italy found the guy you pay to bring you over there in his boat (and back), and we over heard and tagged along. The Island was gorgeous! Cristal clear blue water, it was like a swimming pool. Only the few of us from the boat on the island. Some ruins that I never really got to check out because time for the boat back came all too quickly.

The boat off the island picked us up in time for lunch (they do everything at set times, I told you). We found this kind of cafeteria place higher up in the town with average food. After we saw the rest of the town, including the Tonnara of Portopalo just off the port.

(Edge of the city of Portopalo)

In the afternoon we stopped by the city of Pozzallo. We stayed at the beach for a while first. It was nice to see another city, but the island-beach from the morning at Portopalo was *so* much nicer. This beach had a dirt-sand that left me and my towel all brown and icky and a little damp. There were lots of kids here too, playing soccer and flirting with each other. On the other hand, the city itself was really nice. It had way more going on that the last few towns we had visited. I took advantage of being in civilization to nab some fried goodies that ended up being dinner and my second Sicilian cannoli.

The rest of the pictures from these towns are in my Calabria and Sicilia album: