Southern Sicily and Trapani – A Wild Camping Paradise

Dave the motorhome has had his pick of parking spots today, finally popping is rubber clogs down in the huge free-to-park market place in Trapani, Southern Sicily (N38.01357 E12.52399). The real draw of this part of Sicily is the ancient city of Erice on a mountain 750m above us; the port of Trapani was built to act as its sibling port. Today, however, Erice is shrouded in cloud, so we chose to stay down here hoping the weather clears up for an attempt on the summit tomorrow.

Today's Thursday, which is market day in Trapani, so this place was packed at 3pm. It's now totally deserted, we have several football fields of space to ourselves.
Today’s Thursday, which is market day in Trapani, so this place was packed at 3pm. It’s now totally deserted, we have several football fields of space to ourselves.

In the absence of a gale, our bodies sucked up sleep last night. Mine also sucked up a few beers and a glass or two of red wine, trying to make up for lost time in the dry Muslim world. We watched Dictator on our trusty laptop; Sacha Baron Cohen’s nothing like as funny as the good old days duping politicians and the like on the telly, but still manages a good send-up show.

Southern Sicily is proving to be an absolute dream of a wild camping destination. Yesterday we realised we’d initially parked for a few hours in the ZTL area of San Vito Lo Capo, the traffic limited zone where only residents and a few other authorised folks are allowed, before shifting a few meters to park alongside a couple of other vans. Normally this would result in a beer-budget-busting fine, tears, and hassle from the rozzers. Not here (we hope), no-one noticed or seemed to care. Italy, as we’ve spotted before, seems to enact laws on the basis it can enforce them if it can be bothered/needs to. The streets are dead at the moment, most of the bars and restaurants mothballed, Italy is enforcing no ZTL laws this winter.

On the subject of Italy and the law, a wee observation on Italian driving if I may. We’ve spent maybe 3 months driving around this place now and I’ve finally worked out the rules of the road. There are only two:

Italian Road Rule 1: All drivers are obliged to use whatever means at their disposal to get in front of the car in front. If there is a gap, you get into it, as long as you think other vehicles can somehow avoid a collision.
Italian Road Rule 2: Once a car has gotten in front of you, no matter how close they came to killing you or scratching your paintwork, you are not allowed to crash into them. Easy.

I went native with these rules in Palermo, swinging Dave about the road and coming within inches of wedging an undertaker (as in someone undertaking, err, you get what I mean) solid between Dave and the other legally positioned car on the supposed two lane road. It felt good (the same car tried 3 time to get passed, and 3 times he failed, wahahahhahahWHAHAHHA), in the way driving on a racetrack feels good, but not something I’d want to be having to do all the time. Drivers of Palermo: I salute you.

Anyway, we headed off in the direction of Trapani with the plan to drive up to the city above us, eyes cast upwards at the cloudy sky which indicated our chances of being able to see Tunisia from up there, as the Rough Guide claimed possible, would be nil. We’d be lucky to see each other. With dog food supplied running low, we nipped into a supermarket and stocked up. Although Italy is reputed to be the finest place to eat in the world, this has to come with a caveat: you can only buy Italian food. Entire aisles are filled with pasta, tomato sauces, olives and canned fish, all Italian. The beer: all Italian lager. Cheese: Italian. Pizza: Italian, of course. The wine: Italian. Curry sauces? Thai? Chinese? Mexican? An Ozzie rose? Forget it.

Stocked up with cans of finest 4% meat dog food, we cruised along the coast past a few brilliant, deserted, sea-side parking spots before losing willpower and pulling in to one of them. The sea, clear, turquoise and what-am-I-doing-in-here freezing claimed me for about 60 seconds. After scalding myself warm in Dave’s shower we ate our Italian cheese on Italian bread with Italian milk and loved it, there’s no international variation, but the food you can get is killer-tasty. My belt buckle is going to need reinforcement.

Gone mad with cold in a March Med.
On the Sicilian Coast west of Trapani.
A roadside tribute sadly proving not everyone sticks to the rules. It reads: “It is with great sorrow that we have lost, but we are sure to see you again in heaven. With love your loved ones. Goodbye Pie.”

Rolling into Trapani, the predicted market was in full flow of dismantling itself. Wandering about with Charlie the north-south Italian divide heralds itself here with a lack of speed. Up north the vans would have motorised gubbins, folding up awnings and pulling in trays of stuff like decepticons. Here people pull manically at umbrellas, and whack van sides with the flat of their fists.

Trapani’s been invaded by everyone, like the rest of Sicily, the latest bunch bringing with them the power of artillery and bombers, WW2 hammering the place. There’s still a fair amount of the medieval about it though. We had a wander about for an hour or so, almost all of the many, many photos below being taken from the outside as, as ever, we arrived at locked-o-clock (any time between 1pm and 4pm). It’s a cool, pleasant, absorbing place.

Wow, that’s my kind of graffiti.
The town hall has an array of clocks showing the time, date, phase of the moon, sign of the zodiac and next week’s lottery numbers. A miniature clockwork inside shows how it’s all done, if you can suss it out, I couldn’t.
Salad days in Trapani.
The Mattanza, a huge Tuna catching free-for-all in May or June. You can go watch it from the fishing boats, but we had to make do with this photo in a shop window.
Trapani, complete with a wild Dalmatian dog eye-balling Charlie.
Baroque Blue, incongruously leaping from a church façade.
As Italian cities go, Trapani is pretty mild, but still gets under your skin, you just want to soak the place up, to bottle it.
Sicilian draft excluder. Ju spotted this, and we both had a good laugh.
Dave, still filthy, has switched allegiance!
Give a joker a pencil…
Check out for the story on this ship. They told us they were at sea during the gale which rocked Dave, but the worse that happened was some paper work being knocked out of a folder?

Cheers! Jay


  1. awesome guys….glad you are back enjoying Sicily/Italy again and loving life. You guys will find Italy, in fact the rest of Europe a breeze after Tunisia. gotta love whole supermarket aisle’s dedicated to olive oil, tomatoes & vino…..all the essentials you need for a good meal

    • Hi Rose

      We’re working our way through the scribbles on our map which came from your notes – thanks again, it’s great to go places with a bit of prior knowledge!


  2. We also parked there Jay, but during the following day a charming man (Rosie thinks so) asked very gently for a parking fee… at the request of the Mafia.

    Yes we paid.

    • Hi Jamie. A mafia man! After a few weeks in Tunisia, the prospect of facing off to a car park man claiming our cash on behald of The Family is an interesting one. Depending on how well I’d slept, I’d either hug the guy and hand over a note plus a couple of beers, or announce loudly where he could stick his request for my wonga and pretend to call the my mate in the anti-mafia agency in Palermo (near to Lidl). Life’s full of unexpected little joys, what will tomorrow bring I wonder? Cheers, Jay

    • Explains a lot! Woke up having felt Dave rock slightly, figured it was either Charlie moving or someone stealing our bike off the rack.

      That’s the third one we’ve felt in Italy, but always no more than a slight rocking in Dave and Charlie gets the blame.

      Ju x

  3. Really interesting reading about all your travels. We pick up our “new” 1999 Hymer starline 640 on Wednesday. In May we move to our small hideaway in the Pyrenees and from there on we will be travelling. Looks like you are having a great time. We look forward to doing something similar later this year.

    Best regards and keep up the blogs.

    Steve and Sarah

    • Thanks Guys.

      Please keep in touch, you never know our Hymers might be mystically drawn together for a glass of wine!


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