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Trapani and its province: places to visit and tips

The province of Trapani offers the tourist many extraordinary landscapes, a cultural heritage of great value, traditions to be discovered, and a local cuisine which is rich in detail and delicious typical dishes.

A walk in Trapani city centre along the main street, the Via Torrearsa and Via Garibaldi, is one of the most picturesque routes in the city of Trapani: you will find churches and buildings of unique beauty, with exteriors which form a precious frame for the stone-paved streets, and with richly decorated interiors. To visit or at least to be mentioned are:

  • The San Lorenzo Cathedral and the Church of the Jesuit College (Corso Vittorio Emanuele);
  • Palazzo Cavarretta now houses the City Council (via Torrearsa);
  • The Ex-prison, renovated in 2007 and the church of the Purgatorio which houses the Misteri sculptural groups (via San Francisco), which are carried on shoulders of the people during the Good Friday procession that moves through the streets of Trapani for 24 consecutive hours, accompanied by music.
  • Starting from the beautiful Piazza Ex mercato del pesce (initially home to the fish market and now used to host theatre plays, musical and food events), you can walk along the new promenade on the Tramontana walls overlooking the beach of Porta Botteghelle. Continuing along, you arrive at the old Bastion on the 'largo delle Sirene' square and the Ligny Tower which now houses the Museum of Prehistory and is "commonly" known as "the meeting point between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition to the historical centre, Trapani has another huge asset: the Salt Pan Reserve: a unique landscape at sunset, with the "red hats" of the windmills which are now no longer in use and the flamingos that reside in the pools.

Continuing along the "Via del Sale", you can reach Mozia by boat. It is a small, unspoiled island which conserves some extremely precious remains of the Phoenician-Punic civilization. The island is equipped with signposted paths for those who wish to dip into a place which has not been yet overrun by modern civilization, but has been proudly kept intact.

Continuing along the coast, south-east, you can visit Marsala, Mazara del Vallo and continue to Agrigento, Selinunte with its beautiful archaeological park dating from the 5th century B.C.
The park is situated on a hill above the mouth of the Belize River and is divided into the areas of the Eastern Temples, of the Acropolis and the Necropolis; it is surprising how the Reserve has kept the remains of the ancient civilization so completely intact.

In part comparable to Selinunte, but much closer to Trapani, and reachable by way of the A29 motorway, is Segesta. On a hill rises the Doric temple dating from the fifth century B.C. and almost completely intact, while in the valley nearby is the Greek theatre, dating from the second century. B.C., which can be reached by a shuttle service. Shows of various kinds are held here every summer, from poetry readings at dawn, to concerts, comedies by Plautus or tragedies by Aristophanes. In addition, there is a newly discovered shrine, the remains of which date back to the IV-V century. B.C.

Raggiungibile da Trapani tramite bus, auto o funivia, Erice è un dolcissimo paese medioevale rimasto fedele alle sue origini ed intatto nell’architettura, nei paesaggi, negli allestimenti. Molto suggestivo e caratteristico è passeggiare per le viuzze del paese circondati da chiese, pupi siciliani, tappeti ericini, ceramica tipica, profumo di pasta di mandorla e di genovesi (dolci tipici), e non è difficile rimanere stupiti dai tanti cortiletti fioriti all’entrata delle case.

Reachable from Trapani by bus, car or cable car, Erice is an extremely pleasant village which has remained faithful to its medieval origins as regards its architecture, landscapes and decoration. A walk through the streets of the village is a very suggestive and characteristic experience. You are surrounded by churches, Sicilian ‘pupi’ (puppets), rugs from Erice, typical ceramics, the scent of almond paste and Genovesi (typical pastries), and it is easy to be amazed by the many courtyards full of flowers at the entrances to the houses.

Already home to the "Ettore Maiorana" international scientific centre, Erice is also initiating the establishment of an observatory of Peace on the Mediterranean, which will be located in the old Pepoli Tower which is soon to be returned to its former glory. Places to visit include: the castle of Venus, the Castle of the beautiful Baglio garden, the magnificent Gothic cathedral, built in 1314 and flanked by a bell tower which is thought to have been built by Frederick of Aragon in 1312 as a watchtower, and the many churches in the village; in fact there is a tourist route which starts from the Mother Church. But perhaps the best thing about Erice, are the views you can enjoy: from the Balio you can admire not only the city of Trapani, with its sickle-shaped coastline spread over the sea, but also the salt pans, the Gulf of Bonagia and Mount Cofano.

The town of San Vito Lo Capo is situated on the north coast of Sicily, between Trapani and Palermo. Its charm derives primarily from its magnificent white beach lapped by a crystal clear sea with a lighthouse in the background and palm trees in the foreground: a real picture postcard. Places to visit include the Chapel of Santa Crescenzia, located at the entrance to the town and dating back to the sixteenth century and the old Saracen fortress now a Sanctuary dedicated to San Vito which houses, among many masterpieces, a statue attributed to Gagini. Once in San Vito Lo Capo, a visit (only on foot) to the Zingaro Nature Reserve is not to be missed: its unpolluted sea and land are home to many rare species of flora and fauna. There are also many events that the town of San Vito Lo Capo hosts in the summer: from the Jazz Festival to the Cous Cous Fest, to the literary review "books, authors and bougainvillea": hobbies and pastimes for all ages.

Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo – The Egadi Islands - can offer the visitor a wonderful holiday on the sea, in peace, far away from crowded beaches. The island of Favignana has more facilities, it is famous for the ‘Mattanza’ - tuna slaughter and has been further enhanced in recent years since the birth of a sailing school in the old tuna fishery. The islands of Levanzo and Marettimo, however, are completely untouched gems and can be visited on foot or via the many “Sea Taxi” services present on site. If you visit Levanzo you can not miss the "Genovese Cave" in which graffiti from the Pleistocene Epoch and paintings from the Neolithic age are preserved.

Below are some other places which are definitely worth a visit:

  • Custonaci: - the cave
  • Valderice: the Bonagia tonnara (ancient tuna fishery)
  • Alcamo: the Conti di Modica castle
  • Scodello: the stacks
  • Campobello di Mazara: the Cusa quarries
  • Mazara del Vallo: the Gorghi Tondi Reserve
  • Gibellina: ‘Cretto’ by Burri
  • Partanna: the castle
  • Salaparuta: the ruins of the castle
  • The Island of Pantelleria.
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