Time goes slowly. The breeze and the sun advise relaxation. The low white houses are dotted with flowers. Nearby there are old towers, caves and little coves, and the unique colors of the sea, the blindingly bright sand, the white of the jasmine and the cockscomb of the bougainvilleas. San Vito Lo Capo, the diamond tip of the province of Trapani, is the perfect combination of the most beautiful aspects of the Mediterranean Sea, the perfect synthesis of colors, perfumes, and unforgettable scenery like that of the nearby nature reserves of Monte Cofano and lo Zingaro, two special oases, wonders of nature which have very few equals at this latitude, and which surround San Vito in an embrace.
The area of San Vito Lo Capo, which has been a municipal district for just over fifty years, has been influenced by the peoples and civilizations that have overrun Sicily over the centuries. Alongside the history (from the very first settlements of the very first Palaeolithic settlements to the colonisations by the Phoenicians, Arabs, Normans and Aragonese) there is also the legend of San Vito the martyr, patron saint of the town. He was a young patrician who left Mazara (to escape the persecutions of the emperor Diocletian) with the wet nurse Crescenzia and the tutor Modesto, who had converted him to Christianity. They were all victims of persecution, torture and imprisonment. In the fourteenth century the first chapel was named after San Vito, and today there is still a fifteenth century Sanctuary dedicated to him, which is situated in the main square. On the main road from San Vito to Macari there is the chapel of Santa Crescenza, which has a typically Arab shape. According to legend it was here that the saint disobeyed the commandment not to turn round and look at the town, which she had founded with Vito, and was turned into stone. Other traces of history include the tuna fishery of the Secco, where the remains of the equipment for processing the fish are kept, but which has been out of commission since the end of the sixties. There is also the lighthouse, dated 1875, and the old 16th century watchtowers – Sceri, Isolidda, Torrazzo and Impiso – which dominate the landscape of San Vito, and were originally built to defend the coast from pirate attacks. Pieces of memory.
San Vito Lo Capo’s surroundings do it justice. To the east and to the west, with charming little coves and splendid beaches, the atmospheric stretches of coast, rocky or sandy, are an invitation to dive into the sea. There are gulfs, little bays, rocks shaped by time and by the water, inlets and sea caves. The eastern coast, which passes through the nature reserve of lo Zingaro, is like a dream. It is dotted with surprises and delights, from the rocky promontory of Cala Tonnarella to the wild rocks of Cala Marinella and Cala Berretta, from the unspoilt Cala Punta Leone and Cala ‘Disa, which are rich in flora and fauna, to the transparent Cala Ficarella and Cala Torre dell’Uzzo. The western coast also offers places of breathtaking beauty, which can often only be reached on foot or by mountain bike, like Cala Mancina and Cala Topata, with rocky ridges and beaches, as well as beaches of very fine sand like Calazza and Rina Santa Margherita.
The absolute star of the local cuisine, the height of excellence, is couscous, a traditional dish in many Arab countries. Here it is usually prepared according to the traditional local recipe, with fish broth, and it is available in all the restaurants in the town. Apart from couscous there is just so much choice: fresh fish, sea urchins and sword fish, but above all tuna, salted tuna, spiced tuna, the so-called “sasizzella”, and also tuna belly and tuna roe. . Another dish not to be missed is the traditional local fresh pasta, known as busiate, with Trapani pesto, tomato, garlic and parsley. To round off any meal there is no shortage of desserts: common temptations for the palate are ricotta filled cakes like “cannoli” and “cassate”, and sorbets and ice-creams of every type. The most gluttonous of all, however, is the “caldofreddo”, a bowl with ice-cream at the bottom, then a piece of sponge cake soaked in rum, covered with whipped cream and hot chocolate sauce poured over the top. How can you resist them?
Here an uncontaminated sea bed is the rule, not the exception The environmental organisation Legambiente has given its highest level of recognition, the five “sails”, for the coastline of San Vito Lo Capo once again this year. The reasons are easy to explain. The mirror-like sea has crystal clear shallow waters, with every shade of blue; the marine environment is unique; the beach of golden sand – with disabled access – is more than a kilometer long, with numerous facilities, sun-kissed and dotted with palms.
The waters across from the tuna fishery hold the wreck of the Cypriot cargo ship Kent, called the “ship of Korans” due to its cargo of holy books. Among the masts of the ship, which sank in 1978, hide morays and sedentary conger eels, groupers, schools of sea breams, pelagic fish and many red scorpion-fish. n some areas, you only need to go 40 meters deep to find the first branches of small red coral, which has no commercial value but is coveted by photographers. In the depths of the sea there are also wrecks of the Circe, Enotria, Lussin, and the British submarine the Thunderbolt. A magnificent underwater universe just waiting to be discovered.