In 2009 we drove all along the north coast of Sicily and after 3 days we have been quite depressed. Unlike the gorgeous southern part of island this actually looked like Italian hell - ugly, crowded, dirty, uninteresting and very slow to travel. When we got to Palermo I had already had enough and that city seemed like a cherry on the top of this inedible cake.
And then suddenly thing got better ...
We made it to Castellammare del Golfo hugely disappointed by messy local beaches and drove further until village of Scopello, where suddenly landscape changed from touristic chaos to wild coastal nature of stony bays and tropical vegetation. Amongst plenty of small hotels, villas, B&B's and even campings there absolutely outstanding Tonarra di Scopello, old tuna factory with beautiful cozy beach, turned into summer accommodation.
People lie on huge rocks suntanning and dive into crystal clear, turquoise water for snorkeling. And still if you get bored there's cute fishing village of Scopello to visit and finally the greatest gem of the area: Natural Reserve of Zingaro. We left this trip for early morning and it seems the best option as it gets quickly unpleasantly hot and around noon tourists are already abundant. But when you set off at 8.00 AM, the earliest they open (there's gate and yes, you have to pay a few euros) you can walk undisturbed along the picturesque path carved in the slope.
It's all well maintained as a hiking trail, hence you have arrows to guide you and attractions as small museums and handcraft workshops on the way. Local people still try to maintain traditions weaving baskets from cane and commuting on mules there and back. Some arrows lead down to beaches where you can have really private bathing experience and the sea here is more than rewarding.
Whole trail is 7 km long one way and there is also exit on the other side, at San Vito Lo Capo if you didn't want to go back the same route. Those who don't like walking and have money can rent in Scopello fishing boat that will take them to best beaches, though probably it's not the best idea if you want to fully appreciate magnitude of rare plant and animal species living in the protected area. Sea lavender, crocuses, anemones, orchids and more lively eagles, peregrine falcons, owls, foxes, lizards and weasels are not hard to spot.I truly loved it!