August 22, 2011
Last year I had to make an emergency trip to Sicily for work to deliver a needed part for the RPM Nautical Foundation vessel to be able to keep working on the search and recovery of ancient artifacts from the sea floor. It was such a great experience that this season, I did not wait for something to break to plan a return visit and this time both Kathy & I traveled over for a working vacation to visit the R/V Hercules and visit all my co-workers.
Jeff with Helmet
Howard & Kathy
Back in May, while working in the waters off of Sicily, the Hercules crew made some fantastic discoveries, two Rams and a number of Punic War era helmets on the sea floor. Due to scheduling issues, the boat had to travel to Albania before they could be recovered, so they returned this week and Kathy & I were able to plan our trip to watch these amazing artifacts raised from the bottom. RPM Nautical website
We arrived in Trapani, checked in to a wonderful hotel/ apartment, Le Chiavi Di San Francesco which is located in the heart of Old Town Trapani. We had time to walk around a little and get acclimated before we met the crew and joined them for dinner and a few drinks before heading back to the apartment along the sea wall overlooking the beach. The apartment is awesome, one bedroom with a full kitchen and living room right at street level. It also has a wonderful rooftop breakfast area that overlooks the city.
The crew in the Contender
Our first full day in Sicily, we took the ferry out to one of the nearby Egadi Islands, Favignana where we were to be given a personalized tour of the museum there that houses the Ram that RPM recovered last year as well as many other artifacts. The crew along with a journalist came over aboard the Contender, but Kathy & I wanted to spend the day in Favignana at the beach and exploring the island community.
Ram in museum
The museum was closed, but they opened it up just so that we could see the display of the Ram and the many amphorae and other nautical relics that have been found in these waters, which were the site of the historic and significant Battle of the Egadi Islands between the Romans and Carthaginians that concluded the first Punic War in 241 BC. It is believed that the items we are finding are from this conflict.
Helmet in museum
After the museum visit, we spent the remainder of the hot sunny day at the beautiful little beach, relaxing and swimming before grabbing a quick bite to eat at the small beachfront pizza place. We took a walk through the heart of town, which was filled with happy Italians on holiday enjoying the many outdoor cafes and restaurants.
Favignana is a popular tourist destination for the locals, who flock there to go to the beautiful beaches and take in the festive atmosphere. We took a late ferry back to Trapani, arriving about 11 PM and called it a night. A wonderful start to our stay in Sicily.