Un afternoon at the free thermal waters of Segesta
Un afternoon at the free thermal waters of Segesta
Un afternoon at the free thermal waters of Segesta

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Un afternoon at the free thermal waters of Segesta

 

UN AFTERNOON AT THE FREE THERMAL WATERS OF SEGESTA

 

Written by Luca Sciacchitano

 


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The thermal river of Segesta can be found about 20 minutesī drive from Trapani.

To be honest, I did not even want to go, because I did not have very good memories of the place.
It had been over 20 years since I visited the hot river and, like all "free" things, what came to my mind were the crowds and peopleīs uncouth habits and customs that often annoy me.
Donīt take me for a snob, but the memory of the melon rinds floating like boats, carried along by the current of the river, cannot be defined as attractive.

But in 20 years, water (hot water, it must be said) has passed under the bridge, and residents and tourists have begun to develop that sense of protection towards public areas that surprised me, erasing the old memories and replacing them with new, pleasant ones.

But first things first. I was told about the idea and I initially, rather sulkily tried to get out of the outing but in the end the choice was either to stay at home or to join the group to go to the hot waters.
My innate curiosity got the better of me, and off we went.

From Trapani take the A29 towards Segesta but any self-respecting adventure is not an adventure at all if it goes off without a hitch.

In fact, we had read on the internet that you had to exit at Castellammare del Golfo and then follow the directions for the baths.
At Alcamo, however, the car in front turns off at the junction.
"We saw the sign for the spa"

 "Who knows?! You can probably get there from a number of roads".

And so we leave the motorway at Alcamo and indeed, at the end of a dirt road, we find the river and a rather crowded pool of warm water.


(photo from www.artemisianet.it/trapani.html
)
As it was too crowded, we ask some people if, continuing along the road, there are other places where you can bathe and a gentleman with a markedly Sicilian accent and sunbaked skin does not recommend it.

Because of the "ortolani" -  "gardeners" .


We look at each other, bewilderedly and ask him to repeat because we donīt understand.
At this, the man taps his ear and repeats "Ortolani. I finocchi" (Finocchio is an Italian slang word for gay but it also means fennel - hence the "gardeners" reference)
"Ah!" we look at each other as his meaning dawns on us.
Although he is obviously joking, the message is clear enough.
And we, two families with 3 small children, are not looking for amorous adventures with the local "gardeners", but for thermal waters.
We ask if there is some other place we can go and he advises us to try under the pilons of the motorway bridge, but when we arrive, the place is really unattractive and we decide not to stop there.

We get back into the cars and say goodbye to the gardeners and "shampooists" (who, as the very patient man also explained to us, are people who wash their hair in the river) and try to follow the advice found on the internet.

We return to the motorway, driving towards Palermo, and this time we exit at Castellammare del Golfo and follow the signs to the thermal spa.

After a few kiometres we finally find the turning that goes down towards the private thermal waters. Just before the private thermal spa, we turn left along a dirt road to go down to the river.

And there, after wading across a pleasantly warm ford we find ourselves in a wonderful place.



Within a small, natural canyon flows the stream of hot water.
About 3 to 4 metres wide and no more than 50 centimetres deep, the river flows between two high rock walls covered with green vegetation among which entire colonies of prickly pears with their characteristic "blades" stand out.
In the dozens of caves and crevices on the wall, there are several species of nesting birds that, at irregular intervals, fly up, creating a sense of nature that is indescribable in words.



It was like being in some kind of American canyon, with the birds high in the sky. A beautiful location to which, unfortunately the photos do not do justice.

We find a small beach and immerse ourselves in the water while the children go off exploring, against the current of the river, among waterfalls and pools.

As mentioned before, the river is not deep reaching a maximum of 50 cm, thus allowing you to sit and relax, being lapped by the thermal water.
The current carries a little bit of silt and algae so be aware that this is not a swimming pool but a truly natural experience.

As you climb towards the mouth, the water becomes increasingly warm and clean, but unfortunately also shallower therefore it is more difficult to immerge yourself.

We had fun up stream for a while and we ended up at a certain point, in a tunnel of reeds that bent over forming a green roof over our heads. There, we found a pool in which we could sit in the warmth.

Without any melon rind in sight!

(I am attaching a video to show you some of the thermal water location s in  the segesta area)


At the end of the day, after a couple of hours, when you come out of the hot water, your skin feels freezing due to the difference in temperature .

Satisfied and tired we then returned home carrying a smell of sulfur along with us!

Beware! there are no facilities at the free thermal waters so if you want to visit them you need to know that there are changing cabins or toilets.
Bring some rubber shoes because the river bed is made ​​of stones pebbles which might hurt your feet.
We also took a couple of bottles of tap water to wash our feet when we got back to the cars.

So, happy holidays and as we say around here ...īSSABBINIRICA!

 


 

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