Visiting the Southwest of Sicily

Editorial

Our connection to the Southwest

Just as Emilia was turning 25 she found herself in this small town, Menfi, ruined by an earthquake and in the midst of being restored when she arrived, nevertheless, a lively town filled by the warmth of the local Sicilians who still lived there.

It was the southwest of Sicily and she was offered an opportunity she couldn’t say no to. She had been invited to join the team at a 4 star wine resort which was set upon the peak of an award-winning vineyard by the Planeta family. The kitchen and restaurant where Emilia worked was positioned overlooking a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea and the well-known Porto Paolo.

It’s during Emilia’s time here she discovered Sciacca, the larger town situated just a short drive away from Menfi. Almost every weekend Emilia would stay there with a friend and her family, absorbing the culture and heritage of this very special town. 6 years later Emilia and all of us were back in Sciacca, this time with The Thinking Traveller on a culinary adventure we had created for all to explore this wonderful area through its food and wine!

What to expect when visiting Sciacca

Sciacca, pronounced Shacka is a historic fishing port and known for its large fishing fleet with anchovies being a predominant catch of the day.

The town is spread over different levels of the hill it is built on, the lower part down by the sea being the fishing port with many restaurants. Gradually you climb the stairs leading to the next level decorated with hand painted ceramics to reach the main Piazza. (photo of stairs with ceramics credit charlie) In the main square you will find the heart of the town with the panoramic Piazza Scandaliato, with benches facing towards the beautiful view and Nonni sitting casually together chatting and playing cards.

Sicilian ceramics & thermal spas

Travel through Sicily and you will discover stunning hand-crafted ceramics. Sciacca is one town famous for this craft, the other being Caltagirone which is the heart of Sicilian ceramics. Walking through Sciacca, artisan ceramists sit and paint traditional tiles and pinecones. The pinecone is a symbol of longevity and fertility of the mind that produces ideas of renewal and growth, stair banisters are adorned with these pinecones throughout the town.

Around the 7th century BC the town became a thermal spa resort for the Greeks of ancient Selinunte known as Thermae Selinuntinae. The Romans closely followed the Greeks and then the Arabs who strategically used the fishing port to trade with its North African connections. You will find the thermo baths at the Terme Sciacca S.p.a.

Sites & Towns to visit near Sciacca

Selinunte – was an ancient Greek city and now an infamous archaeological site containing five temples centered on an acropolis. It is known to be the largest archaeological site in Europe.

Mazara del Vallo – is host to the largest fishing fleet in Italy and is recognised for sourcing the best Sicilian red prawns with Sciacca following closely behind.

Menfi – La Foresteria Planeta Estate, a 4-star wine resort by the Planeta family who are hosts to numerous wineries across Sicily.

Famous facts about Sciacca

  • The Sciacca film festival takes place every year with A-listers visiting the town.
  • Google held their 7th annual retreat at the Roccaforte Verdura Resort in July 2019.
  • A few famous names who are descendants of Sciacca included Alicia keys and John Bon Jovi (Bongiovi).