Sicily - Erice

by Kimp 29. February 2016 05:21

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When Jesus sat down to the table to break bread, it was probably accompanied with salt from Trapani Sicily.

The cradle of civilization is the Mediterranean coast that starts in Syria, continues along Lebanon and ends in the Middle of  Israel. The natural snails in the sea there, produce a purple dye that was highly sought after in antiquity. While other dyes of that time faded over time, this purple dye got stronger and more beautiful with wear and exposure to sunshine. In the beginning, it was consumed mostly by their clergy (I believe that is why most churches today use the color purple during advent). As the clergy lost power, the dye began to be consumed by the public. It quickly became in high demand, by the richest people in the world, which gave the motivation, for someone to start a world wide trade of goods that were in high demand. Distribute the goods that are plentiful in one area to their highest area's of demand and bring back something else that is in high demand locally.

About 1500 B.C., salt was in very high demand, due to its use to extend the shelf life of food, and very high quality salt was in short supply. The best salt then and still today, is produced in Trapani Sicily. It's known for it's exceptional flavor, and is completely natural and untreated. Consisting of a higher concentration of potassium and magnesium and lower amounts of sodium chloride than common salts, it is also believed to be healthier. Trapani salt is available in many specialist food shops.

When the Roman's ruled most of Europe, they paid their soldiers in salt rather than currency.

Erice is the 750 m (0.5 mile) high mountain top Medieval city, what was the fortress where the people of Trapani would retreat to. It was full of a lot of very wealthy people, was very well made and still looks like it is in good shape today. One of the most well preserved that I have seen. It was also one of the most scenic places I have been to.

Getting to Erice

There is a funicular (type of cable car) that goes from Trapani (which is at sea level), to the top of the mountain. However, I was coming in from the other direction and decided to drive the Smart car rental that I had. I was rethinking that decision the whole way up. If you have a Smart car rental, take the funicular.

The Smart car has so many problems with it, I'm surprised that Mercedes admits having anything to do it.  One of the problem's with the Smart car is that it is very top heavy, and requires a computer to constantly adjust the suspension as you are driving down the road to keep it from flopping over. Especially if you fly into a corner. That might work well for most places, but Sicily's autostrada (freeway) was pretty much built by paving over some old chariot paths and is very bumpy. I had the Smart car floored and the spedo said 95 mph, but my GPS said I was going about 84. At that speed, the Smart car rode about like a 65 ford pickup. It was hobbling, wobbling and bobbling from one place to the other (I think it might have been overwhelming the computer). It took lots of constant wheel adjustments and guts to keep it on the road. The interior noise was pretty uncomfortable as well. On a rural road in Sicily, it was like riding a bucking bronco. Besides wearing my arms out, it was hurting my back and neck.

There was a very severe under-steer when going up switchbacks leading up to Erice. Under-steer is when you turn the front wheels but the car goes more straight then turn, right into on coming traffic that is going down the mountain. To recover quickly, I needed to take my foot off of the gas, straighten the wheel, floor it, get up some speed, and then let off the gas again and finally turn. That maneuver gets lots of horn noise from the oncoming traffic. Thar car did not do well with hairpin turns combined with steep inclines.

Just when I thought I had everything figured out, there was one more surprise in store.

The whole ride down the mountain a buzzer keep going off. Not a good feeling at all to hear a buzzer blaring while descending a steep mountain. I'm trying to look at the lights on the dash to see what it is, but I kind of need to keep my eyes on the road, and there isn't any room to pull over. Then the sound would go away for a short while, then come back. Is that maybe the sound that goes off when the brakes are being overwhelmed??? It kind of sounded like a headlight's are on alarm. Like when the engine is off and you get out of the car while the lights are on. But I am pretty sure the engine is on, and my door is shut. I finally get to a place where I can pull over and investigate. The sound stops and doesn't happen again, until I start going back down the hill. I pull over again and it stops, until I start going. I keep looking for lights on the dash and nothing seems to be lit. I never did figure it out, but it ceased, when I got to the bottom.

This left me with an uneasy feeling the whole rest of the trip. Is this car going to strand me in the middle of nowhere?

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Comments (3) -

Jim Patrick
2/29/2016 7:12:19 AM #

Entries from the historical logbook down through history from the guard on the top of the hill:
oh crap, here come the Greeks.
oh crap, here come the Romans.
oh crap, here come the moslems.
oh crap, here come the crusaders.
oh crap, here comes the British navy.
oh crap, here come the nazi's.
oh crap, here comes Patton.
hooray, here comes an American tourist.


3/6/2016 6:56:40 AM #

Ha ha ha


Jim Patrick
2/29/2016 7:15:00 AM #

I had one of those little cars on twisty roads one time overseas.  It was tiny but we crammed a family of four in it for touring, it was such an indescribably ugly color, we named it the golden cheeseball.  


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