TRAPANI

Trapani is an ancient seaport on the extreme western edge of Sicily. It is a bustling city with modern buildings and thriving businesses built around the older inner city. I had intended to walk to Paceco, an outlying suburb, and then take a bus into the city. As I walked that morning, figuring to get to Paceco by noon, a man stopped to offer me a lift. I politely refused as always. He was perturbed by this. He said, "Look, I'm an old man." Here he took off his hat to display a bald head. "You don't have to be afraid of me. The weather is terrible today [it was very windy] and there are bad people around here. Why don't you let me take you to Paceco?" I considered for a moment and then agreed. He, like all Italians, wanted to talk even if I only caught every sixth word. He asked where I was from and then launched into a tirade about the Taliban. He pointed out the vineyards that were his along the way. He asked where I had slept at night, why I was walking, where I would stay in Trapani (he was stricken with disbelief that I didn't know - non programmi!). I told him that the soil looked to be very rich and black in this area and the gardens lush and lovely. "Buona terra, s, buona terra." Good earth. He asked what I did for a living. The only word I could come up with was "biologist" and he said that he too studied biology, every day in his farm fields. I agreed that this was indeed biology in the truest sense.

When we reached Paceco, he took me to a bus station where a bus had just pulled up. He tried to talk the driver into taking me right then, selling me a ticket onboard, but the driver would have none of it. So he walked me to the Tabacchi shop where one can purchase cigarettes, phone cards, and bus tickets. He told the vendor to sell me a one-way ticket to Trapani, which cost me $1.50 (3,000 lire). Then he walked me back to the bus stop where some school children were gathering, told one of them to see to it that I got on the right bus, and said goodbye to my profuse thanks. The school boy was mortified to have anything to do with me and mumbled a quick "questo" (this one) when the bus came. Thus did I arrive in Trapani.

I fell in love with the city. The rambling alleyways and old buildings were endlessly interesting.

It seemed as though every hidden courtyard, every stairway, every arched doorway held a secret. There were street dogs throughout the city, and one morning one adopted me as I wandered.

Trapani is first and foremost a seaport. The leeward side of the island bore the tiny local fishing boats in traditional cobalt blue, white and red.

Each day I went to the bakery to buy pizza for breakfast and some loaves for lunch and dinner, then across the street to the fruit/vegetable vendor for persimmons and oranges and tomatoes. I never felt a need for cooked meals in restaurants, with such good fresh food available. Then I spent much of the day wandering through alleyways and peeking into little shops.

 

Many streets had icons built into the corner buildings, where candles were lit and fresh flowers placed.

There was also the more modern side of Trapani. Posters were plastered everywhere. Trash blew through the streets and piled up in corners. It was a busy city, very much alive.

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