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In Sicily, where cliffs plunge into the sea

18 July 2022

3 minutes

To understand why the San Vito Lo Capo area attracts so many Italian and foreign climbers, you only have to pop into this Sicilian resort town a few kilometres from Trapani. The answer lies in the impressive vertical walls and cliffs guarding caves that plunge into the transparent sea; in the Mediterranean landscape with its mild climate where outdoor sports can be practiced all year round; and in the numerous itineraries between creeks and cliffs where the panorama shifts in ever-changing views.

1. Monte Monaco

There are over 600 bolted routes in and around San Vito Lo Capo, on an endless series of rocky ramparts moved by stalactites and cavities sculpted by sea and wind. Monte Monaco is the mountain that overlooks the town to the east, a rise jutting out towards the Tyrrhenian Sea where the rock is mottled with fragrant Mediterranean scrub. Choose one of the many vertical itineraries, without skipping the suggestive Via Gioco d'Ombre, then stop to observe the vast panorama while gazing at the Gulf of Castellammare. Cala Mancina is the cliff in the bay from which it takes its name. Here the spectacle is offered by the two colours of the rock, red and white. Red rock also characterises Crown, a magnificent overhanging cliff rich in concretions, overlooking the Gulf of Cofano. The Salinella cliffs offer a stunning view of a stretch of coastline lapped by sand and vegetation. Due to its strategic location, it is the destination for those who prefer climbing in winter.

2. Lo Zingaro and Monte Cofano

The village of San Vito Lo Capo is located right in the middle of two reserves: the Riserva dello Zingaro and the Riserva di Monte Cofano. The Riserva dello Zingaro is a popular destination for climbers because of the spectacular cliffs, but the panorama is open to anyone. Just walk along the path that connects San Vito Lo Capo and Scopello, all within the reserve and by access on foot only. Along an easy, not very steep path, 7 kilometres with a sea view. Nature is intact and here and there you can access small bays and secret coves for a dip.

Early mornings, hands on the rock, afternoons in the water, between the Riserva dello Zingaro and the comfortable coastline of San Vito Lo Capo with its fine white sand. Admire the low, now abandoned buildings of the Tonnara del Secco, the old tuna processing warehouses dating back to 1412 and located 3 km from the town.

A peaceful atmosphere reigns around the lighthouse that dominates the bay and you can walk under the 43-metre high tower.

3. Cala Firriato

Also within the Riserva dello Zingaro, Cala Firriato is a marvellous inlet perfect for some DWS, or Deep Water Soloing, even for the less-experienced. The cliff is a real gymnasium, not too high: it reaches 8 metres. It is just you, hands and feet clinging to the rock, without ropes or bolts. Protecting you is the sea below; if you lose your grip, the only risk is a refreshing plunge into deep water. A solo ascent for a athletic and scenic vertigo.

4. San Vito Lo Capo and its festivals

San Vito Lo Capo is celebrated for the many festivals it hosts, first and foremost for climbers and lovers of outdoor sports in an exceptional natural setting. At the San Vito Outdoor Fest, a gathering initially intended only for climbing enthusiasts and over the years extended to include mountain biking, kite surfing, SUP and Slacke Lin, all athletes can meet, socialise and take part in a busy competition programme. The event is in October each year and has now achieved international fame.

The other festival that has brought San Vito Lo Capo great fame is the Cous Cous Fest, in September: ten days of culinary challenges, tastings and meetings. The highlight is the Cous Cous Championship, a contest in which Italian and foreign chefs compete against each other in the kitchen, in creative blows. Whether you attend the festival or not, you cannot leave the island without having tasted couscous, a dish of clear Arabic origin and a speciality of this strip of western Sicily, in the Trapanese area. In San Vito Lo Capo it reaches the peak of deliciousness in the seafood version, washed down with a local fish sauce.

 

Find out more 
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