Sicily's Egadi Islands: Beautiful villas meet Italy's ancient history

Pepoli Castle
The colors of twilight grace the remains of Pepoli Castle.
Castello de VenereJon Whittle

I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not in a Godfather movie. It's no an easy task. Today I am leaving the bustling city of Palermo, headed for Trapani and my windshield looks like a movie screen. Sicilian villages decorated in earthy terra cotta tones drift by in stark contrast to the green fields over which they stand. Lazy lanes and carefully cultivated olive trees replace bustling city streets. An old man ambles along, pushing a bike that likely witnessed world wars. This is the Sicily from my imagination. Afternoon has crept up on me. I can feel the long day's journey from Florida weigh me down. I follow directions from the printed sheet resting in my lap to my home for the next 4 days: Corte del Sole.

Clear instructions have led me directly to the driveway of a rustic Sicilian villa. A closer looks reveals it to be a modern take on a traditional architecture. Stepping through the oversized wooden door, high ceilings and open spaces comfort me. Although I have my choice of bedrooms, all I’m interested in is the closest one. I lay down to the best sleep I’ve had in years.

Morning brings a view over the olive plantations toward the ocean where the Egadi Islands are just beginning to be lit by the sun. In the kitchen, I find a variety of local foods and wines left by the villas owner. I decide to take my breakfast outside by the pool, but something is missing. I concentrate on what it might be. It’s noise. There isn’t any. All I hear around me is the sound of the breeze and birds. This is the Sicily I hadn’t expected.

As tempting as it is to just sit here, the island beckons from all directions. Its northwestern coast is populated with stunning pieces of history. The most prominent of them is the massive, rounded shape of Monte San Giuliano and the medieval city of Erice that decorates its summit. The city has changed hands many times throughout the centuries. The evidence of the Arabs and Normans are still visible. A quick drive the other direction would bring me to Segesta, regarded as the most well preserved Greek Doric Temple in the world. If all else fails the nearby city center of Trapani is also chock full of history. There’s also a string of national parks that flank the scenic drive to Marsala in the south.

So many decisions -- especially from here in Corte de Sole, situated in the middle of it all. Perhaps the best course of action is just to sit here for a little longer, enjoying the morning breeze and the soothing sounds of the landscape.

[Read more or rent Corte del Sole]

MORE PHOTOS: See a gallery of beautiful photos of Corte de Sole, Sicily and the Egadi Islands.

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