‘Would you like to come to my wedding? It’s this summer, in Sicily.’ It is with this lovely sentence that, a few months ago, I got invited to the wedding of a friend of mine I met here in Ireland. The informal tone of the invite is typical of the kind of relationship that I have with her, but it also hid a bit of a worry: that I might find a trip to Sicily with kids in tow to a formal event a bit hard to handle.
Of course, she should have known better: I am not one to shy away from packing up the family and jetting off, so in the space of a few minutes I had confirmed attendance and started planning our Sicilian family travel adventure!
I was not the only one excited about going to Scopello: when she heard of our Sicilian escape, my mom decided to jon us with a friend so the trip became multigenerational: ages covered went from 2 to over 70!
Discovering Scopello Sicily with kids
The first thing I had to do was to figure out where the wedding actually was and how to get there from Dublin. The place she chose to get married is called Scopello, and while I had heard of it before, I wasn’t really sure about its exact location so I set out to do a bit of research about it.
I soon discovered that Scopello it is a small village of just 80 inhabitants, located in the North-Western part of Sicily, in between the cities of Palermo, to its East, and Trapani, to its West.
It is perched on a small hill and it overlooks the beautiful Riserva dello Zingaro, a long stretch of unspoiled land famous for its natural diversity and beautiful little coves. I also learned that while Scopello had been known as a holiday destination for Italian tourism for many years, it recently acquired international fame with movie stars and directors, having been the set for the movie Ocean Twelve. Wow, Scopello promised to be pretty spectacular.
Scopello: a bit of history
Scopello itself, like many other villages in Sicily, was originally built as a baglio, a word used to describe Sicilian gated rural constructions that were used as Manors belonging to barons or the church. Il baglio di Scopello dates back to the XV century and today is a beautiful piazza, surrounded by high walls and shaded by luscious vegetation, dotted with cafes, restaurants and craft shops. We got to Scopello in the late morning and the baglio was our first stop:
We sat in the shade of the big tree, and after a first coffee (we had more coffee in that weekend that I am prepared to admit), and a massive cone of gelato for the kids, we set out for a walk outside the baglio. Outside the walled square is where the village is most authentic: Scopello is only made up of a few lanes and sightseeing won’t take more than few minutes, but it’s a charming little place, with lots of unexpected corners from where to get a peek at the beautiful Mediterranean below. It is the perfect destination for a family holiday and one I would recommend to anyone looking famly vacation ideas in Italy.
The village is mostly pedestrianised and the only cars admitted are for access to the various hotels B&Bs, so most of the streets there are taken over by the local cafes, which use the street as impromptu terraces for their clients.
Where to ear in Scopello: how family travel creates little foodies
In Scopello there is no sightseeing to be done as such, so after our walk we decided to sit in the shade of what turned out to be one of the best finds of the day: il forno (the bakery)! The bakery is a small shop with a shady terrace just on its doorstep. It’s an unpretentious little shop and it’s worth stopping there to taste local specialties such as pane cunzato, bread with olive oil, tomato, cheese and anchovies and sfincione, a type of focaccia with tomatoes, onions and yet again anchovies, one of the staples of Sicilian cuisine. We went there with my mother, her friend and our two children and we all polished off every last crumb… I can certainly say the bakery catered very well for 3 different generations.
After a lazy lunch there, we got some rest with the kids but the wedding party headed to one of the most beautiful parts of Scopello, la tonnara. La tonnara is an old tuna fishery that is now preserved for its historical value and is used as a charming setting for private events. The tonnara is a fabulous spot and the closest access to the sea from Scopello: its only drawback is that the access is not very easy (the path is not ideal if you have small children or you are unstable on your feet) so we had to miss out on that, despite the amazing comments of all our friends who went there to take a dip in the blue sea behind it. We didn’t have time to get to it, but we noticed a lovely sandy family friendly beach just 10 minutes drive out of Scopello.
Unable to reach the beach, we instead went to visit the church that was about to host the wedding and found a lovely surprise. The church that you see on the main square is not the only consecrated place in the area and weddings in the summer are celebrated outside, while bride, groom and wedding guest can take in the view and enjoy the balmy air. Here is it:
The ‘church’ is only few steps outside the village, in front of the main parking, but you may miss it if you don’t know it’s there and it’s worth a stop. Especially if you are in Scopello when there is a wedding on, I would highly recommend you take a minute to have a peek inside and wait for the bride (the whole village will be doing the same anyway): if you’re lucky, you might see her arrive on something like this!
Our day finished of course with the wedding, which took place in the open air church and continued with an amazing meal and party in the agriturismo nearby: Agriturismo Tenute Plaia. Did we enjoy the day? We loved it! I think you can tell from the smiles on our faces:
This is us, very happy to be in such a beautiful place.
Scopello accommodation and practical info
- Closest airports: Palermo or Trapani. If you are going on holiday to Sicily from Ireland, connections are also available to Catania and Comiso (not convenient for Scopello unless you hire a car and make a road trip out of it)
- Public transport: scarce. If you can I would highly recommend you hire a car to/from the airport. Some hotels offer a taxi service (to/from Trapani airport we got a quote of 60 Euro but please check with your hotel!)
- best hotels in Scopello for families: plenty of options, with an array of B&B, hotels and self catering rentals to choose from. English is not widely spoken but most places use online booking services such as booking.com to make reservations easy and some establishments do have websites in English. We stayed at ‘Bagli di Scopello‘ which was, while not exceptionally charming, comfortable, clean and with the added advantage of a family friendly pool suitable also for babies and toddlers.
- Food: specialties from Scopello are pane cunzato and sfincione and, of course, you can find arancini and cannoli, definitely something you should try! You can also have what our kids loved best: gelato in a bun
- When to go: we were there at the end of June. The weather was beautiful (despite the unusually rainy summer until then), hot but pleasant, with temperatures in the high 20s/low 30s
- Perfect for: a day trip from bigger localities in the area (or a summer wedding)
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