Sunday, 14 February 2016

Sicily in winter

A member of the Facebook group 'Motorhome Adventures, posted the question - 'Where is best for winter, Italy or Morocco?' Well sitting in Camping Komemi in the rain I reckoned I had acquired some instant expertise here, so this is the reply I posted:
"It depends what you want. Sunshine is probably more reliable in Morocco, but the post above that mentioned that the site they stayed on had six armed guards, I don't find reassuring! Really the only part of Italy that has a winter climate in any way comparable to Southern Spain is Sicily. In winter it's quiet, only a dozen or so ACSI sites to choose from and those are of mixed quality. On the up-side it's a paradise for foodies and cooks, the local wine is wonderful, some astonishing landscapes , beautiful old towns with great Baroque architecture and fantastic archaeological sites. If it's reliable blue skies you are after, go to Morocco, if you don't mind the odd rainy day and are interested in European history and culture - come to Sicily."

Having thought about this some more, then here's a few more prejudices and facile observations on the question of 'quiet' and the variable quality of Sicilian campsites.

This part of the Sicilian coastline really redefines the notion of being 'out of season.' We are not talking about being a bit quiet like Cleethorpes or Rhyl on a Thursday afternoon in February, Secca Grande, when we took a stroll along the esplanade yesterday, was utterly devoid of any human life whatsoever; it was like a scene from Zombie Apocalypse.

Not a soul to be seen.
The village consists of a dilapidated seafront lined with crumbling small apartment blocks; two further streets run parallel to the Lungomare lined with equally squalid looking holiday accommodation. The blocks of flats were all closed-up, their shutters secured with chunky looking padlocks that probably would take a couple of kilos of Semtex to shift. 

The traffic was very limited

Scattered among the flats were a few unkempt villas with a tall perimeter fencing patrolled by crazed looking dogs. As we passed each one began barking its head off and pawed at the rusting wire mesh This outburst had a ripple effect as every pooch within hearing distance joined the doggy chorus and the entire bay broke out into a cacophony of baying as two lone human wended their way through the deserted streets.
Furry, but not friendly
Like all invented places from Milton Keynes to your local Wimpy new build estate the roads in Secca Grande had been named thematically. The vias furthest from beach were flora themed - Magnolie, Girasole, Lillia and so on; those in the second line were all named after Italian Renaissance painters - Verrocchio, Antonella di Messina, Raffaello Sanzio. I was starting to become impressed when I stumbled across Via Tiepolo - Rococo - wrong era!!! I was most put out. This minor inconsistency paled into insignificance compared to the name of the esplanade - Lungomare Gagarin. Why? Perhaps Secca Grande was an invention of the early 60s and it seemed a really 'trendy' idea to name the new resort's sea front after the first astronaut. Now it just seems slightly bizarre. Anyway, in the absence of other entertainment staring at the street signs kept us amused.

It probably seemed a good idea at the time
Now we come to the other issue, out of season Italian campsites. First the positives, we were never made to feel less than welcome, the owners were friendly, helpful and accommodating. However, the sites themselves - with the exception of those at Punta Braccetta - were ramshackle and seemed half closed. Furthermore, some of the facilities were none too clean, and the last two places, at Agrigento and Secca Grande had major building work going-on which was not fenced off and could have posed a real hazard.

The new pool will be lovely when it's finished, now it is an obstacle course to get to the sanitary block
Even if this had not been the case, then the way permanently pitched clapped-out caravans with shack-like additions predominated created sites with all the charm of a shanty town. In the way allotment sheds in the UK have become something of a Guardian reader style icon, I could imagine these grungy favela style shacks being similarly adopted by the culturally bewildered and declared 'cool'. It's only a matter of time until you will be able to rent them through Air B&B, as new glamping opportunities for hipsters weary of pods, yurts and tepees.

Welcome to pigeon loft chic....

I think the rain is getting to me, I feel the onset of cabin fever. No matter what, I think we will move on tomorrow and see what the free overnight parking at the Sciacca port has to offer.

and in the corner, the uncomplaining Brits

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