Balestrate is a small village overlooking the Sicilian north-western coast. Midway between the cities of Palermo and Trapani it is located in the beautiful Gulf of Castellammare.
Due to its geographical location Balestrate and its economy have long been tied to agriculture and fisheries.
Recently, tourism has carved out an increasingly important role to become one of the leading sectors of the local economy.
Balestrate offers much from the naturalistic point of view: kilometers of golden beaches and delightful rocky coves, a forest of eucalyptus trees near the coast where you can spend time in total relaxation, wonderful sights from where you can admire the entire Gulf Castellammare and vegetation typical of the Mediterranean coastline. From the point of view of the country's tourist services it is constantly evolving, in 20 years, many services and projects are developed to meet the needs of tourists: on the beach there are several beach resorts, private car parks and public baths. The offering of b&b, restaurants and pubs is increasing year by year and the summer of 2016 will open to the public on marina, whose size will be among the most important tourist ports of Sicily.
Balestrate therefore has all the credentials to aspire to the status of tourist country in all respects, because the nature, the sun, the sea, the food and location are gifts that would be a crime not to exploit.
The Sicilian cuisine is among the richest and most varied in the world for many reasons, surely the main causes are two: the abundance of delicious raw materials, (whether of plant or animal origin), and the succession of different dominations who through the ages they have made Sicily a land of conquest. And each of these peoples has left something of their culinary traditions in this wonderful island. I want propose in this article a short list of local specialties that can be tasted in Sicily. Little note for those on a diet: not look for something light or low calorie in this list, this is as good as fatty foods !!!
The arancina is a spherical or oblong dish made of rice and saffron stuffed with different composition. The outside is covered with a golden crunchy breading. The arancina's origin is uncertain: it is assumed that it was the Muslims during their domination in the Middle Ages to have imported this dish. The most common arancina filling is the meat sauce, but it can found in takeaways and bars in different variants to suit every palate.Show all
The PANELLE and the CAZZILLI are maybe the kings of street food in Palermo. The PANELLE are tiles chickpea flour, parsley, salt and water. They are fried in vegetable oil, while cazzilli are pasta potatoes, parsley and milk; They are breaded and also fried in vegetable oil.
Especially in Palermo it is easy to find street vendors selling panini with PANELLE and cazzilli.
A tip: try with a bit of pepper, salt and plenty of lemon juice ... delicious !!!
Caponata needs not introduction. Now famous throughout Italy is sold throughout Italy and abroad in jars. If you ate the Caponata in a jar I'm sorry to tell you that it's as if you've never eaten. A fresh caponata has a completely different flavor. There are at least five traditional recipes recognized (not to mention the thousands of variants that there are at the local or even family level). The Palermo's caponata is certainly the most famous and is characterized by cutting the eggplant bigger and for that unmistakable bittersweet taste given by the mix of onions, vinegar and sugar. In addition there are the capers and olive. Accompanied by freshly baked bread is something divine!Show all
Here we go a bit 'on the heavy. The sandwich with the spleen is definitely not a dish for vegetarians. If you are instead "carnivores" and you like to taste everything that comes into your hands, you can not miss it.
It is a sandwich stuffed with bits of calf spleen and lung.
The origins of this dish are ancient. Already in the Middle Ages it was prepared in Palermo. The entrails were used because it was considered a deviation of slaughter. This allowed the people to eat animal protein not being able Allow yourself the finest cuts.
The preparation is very simple: the spleen is first boiled.
Then in special cookware it is melted lard where are skipped the spleen and lung rags pieces. hot yet they are thrown into the sandwich and ready to be eaten perhaps accompanied by a nice cold beer.
Small tip: if you want to try to push you even further ask for a panino "maritato" (does mean married): in addition to the spleen and lungs will find yourself in the middle of the sandwich of salty ricotta !!!
In Sicily, especially in Palermo you eat anything. So I can not advise you to try what I personally I love more than any other street food: the stigghiola lamb (or sheep or goat).It is the animal's guts washed with water and salt, skewered onto a skewer or twisted to a leek or onion and throw on the grill over high heat.
When cooked they are made into pieces and eaten with salt, pepper and LEMON JUICE.You can appreciate the street, eat in standing company over a beer. Sometimes you do not even need a plate: the "stigghiularu" (THE stigghiola seller) takes away from the fire and he breaks with his knife on the counter and them to put all hands !!!
The list of the dishes would be much longer, but I leave to you the pleasure of discovery. Just be curious because in Sicily you'll be spoiled for choice.
Balestrate is located in a position that could be called "strategic tourism."
First, it is easily accessible by all means of transportation: the highway is less than 2 km from the town and there are two nearby airports.
Thanks to the maritime port of Palermo you can also reach Balestrate easily and fast (see directions from the port of Palermo).
For a tourist who goes on vacation is the desire to discover the natural beauty surrounding the place chosen for the night.
In this article I have selected three places of natural interest and three places of historical interest that are worth visiting and that person in a b & b in Balestrate you can do so without incurring any travel day too long.
The small village of Scopello is perhaps one of the most beautiful and ancient fishing villages in Sicily. Grew up around the Tonnara (built in the '600 will have the fishing news in the area dating back even to the' 200) is a delightful village overlooking a stunning cliff where you can spend a morning relaxing sunbathing or snorkeling on crystalline waters and continue the day of eating at Baglio where good food is combined with an atmosphere of relaxation of the past (the village is completely closed to traffic).
A few kilometers further on, towards Trapani, begins the Zingaro Nature Reserve, a famous maritime nature reserve for its beauty, the characteristic Mediterranean Macchia, its wild coves are a paradise for those who love ' Hiking surrounded by nature. The reserve is on foot through its paths in a few hours and it is possible, after a brisk walk find comfort with a bathroom in the wonderfully clear waters rich in flora and fauna (the abundance of fish is due to the absolute prohibition of fishing has been in place for decades).
Scopello and the Zingaro Nature Reserve can be reached from Balestrate in just over 30 minutes away by car.
The Natural Reserve Saline di Trapani and Paceco include a wide coastal area near the city of Trapani that has unique characteristics of its kind. In this area of coast were in fact present wetlands and marshes that have meant that the area would lend itself to the extraction of salt. Even today salt is extracted with techniques dating back to centuries ago and this has created a particular habitat and unique both as regards the flora that for the fauna.
Of great importance the presence of different species of birds every spring and autumn pass during migration from Saline offering a breathtaking spectacle.
I highly recommend visiting the salt marshes in the afternoon and wait for the sunset. The sunlight on the horizon reflecting on placid and mountains of salt extracted offers a panorama that you can hardly forget. Despite being a reserve, you can enjoy the view over a good aperitif thanks to the local.
From Balestrate, conveniently charge in your b & b, it is possible to make a tour to the discovery of the smaller islands, the Egadi and specifically Favignana is a stage that a lover of the sea and nature can not miss.
Favignana is an island within an hour by ferry or hydrofoil about 20min from the port of Trapani. The island atmosphere is magical: a small and unique village and then a mountainous island with a barren vegetation, very few trees and steep cliffs that open to wonderful coves where the sea is deep blue. I advise you to leave the car at the port of Trapani, once we arrived at the marina you can rent bicycles or scooters (depends on your fitness level, remember that the highest point of the island is over 300 meters!). So take your vehicle and begin to go without asking for directions, get lost in the island and stop when you feel inspired by an inlet or from a cliff, there is no danger of getting lost, the island is small and runs through in scooter in less than an hour. In the middle of August certainly find many people and burned vegetation from the heat, I recommend the spring, on a beautiful day in April or May, with few people around and an explosion of colors will be an unforgettable experience.
The village of Erice is on the edge of the city of Trapani and can be reached from Balestrate in less than an hour. Ancient settlement from a previous era to the Greek colonization, was included in the list of the most beautiful towns in Italy it is a magical place where time seems to stand still. You can reach the village with a convenient cable car that starts at the foot of the mountain on which it is perched.
I suggest a visit to the village at sunset, perhaps to enjoy a delicious cake with ricotta and maybe stopping to dine and also enjoy the view.
The Temple of Segesta is one of the best preserved ancient Greek temples in the world. Dating from the fifth century. A.C., was built by the inhabitants of the city and never finished. The temple is located within an archaeological park where you can also visit the ancient amphitheater where even today are staged several performances especially in summer.Reach the site from Balestrate is easy: just take the highway towards Trapani and exit at "Calatafimi-Segesta", it is about 30 minutes by car.Show all
Palermo is a fundamental and essential step. Giving a complete picture in a few lines is impossible, but I will try to give some small indication of what you can see in a day.
Palermo has an ancient history even before the Roman conquest of Sicily. What makes the city a magical place has the feel of being in a place that has lived. Paòlermo was important cities of the Roman Empire, later lived centuries of splendor before under Arab rule and later under the Normans ( '200). The Arab influence and then the Norman, are still visible in the architecture of the city (see the Zisa Castle and the Norman Palace), in its historical markets Vucciria, Cape and Ballarò, where for a thousand years without interruption, every morning you can get lost among stalls of fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and a thousand other things. Have followed the Spanish domination, the French and all have left something mixing traditions and local culture with other traditions.
There are wonderful churches like the Cathedral or "San Giovanni Degli Eremiti" or San Cataldo.
And in your tour when you get hungry, my advice is not to go to a restaurant: Palermo is the world capital of street food!
Arancine, Sicilian pizza, sandwiches with fritters or with the spleen, boiled, stigghiole ... traditional dishes that no one knows precisely how they were born or who have taken them!
Two lines are still at liberty to devote Palermo. Leaving the historic downtown area (Old city center is very extensive and it is worth getting lost in its narrow streets!) You move to another Palermo. We spend as if by magic from the winding alleys in large avenues, tree-lined and palaces from the dry lines up to take Via Ruggero Settimo that will take you from Piazza Castelnuovo, where stands the Politeama to the majestic theater Massimo, masterpiece of the architect Ernesto Basile. Really worth to visit it inside: it is the second largest theater in Europe, second only to the Paris Opera ...
This description of Palermo is at least incomplete, but in a few lines is impossible to return the magic of a city as beautiful as rich in history and culture.
Last thing to add is that even Palermo is easily reached from Balestrate in less than 45 minutes.
I hope that this brief description will be useful, of course I have listed only a very small part of the things to do and places to visit starting from Balestrate.
In future articles I delve other issues that could be useful to all those who want to come in Balestrate at the b&b Casa Quinzio.