The best way to get to know Trapani is looking at the ties this town has
always had with the sea. Nowadays fishing provides a means of support,
but in the past the Mediterranean was a source of wealth because of the
Over the centuries the salt-pans and the salt industry have created a
unique environment of great cultural, economic relevance in a region where
the land merges into the sea. This route is called "La Via del Sale"
(The Salt Road) and is remarkable for its numerous mills, five of which
have recently been renovated, for the heaps of salt covered with terracotta
tiles and for the Museum of Salt at Nubia, not far from Paceco. This area
is part of two natural reserves, the "Saline di Trapani e Paceco"
and "The Stagnone di Marsala".
In the shallow and warm waters of the Stagnone it's easy to sight a great
variety of water birds, such as wild ducks and herons. In spring a multidude
of glowing flowers decorate the surfacing lang like a series of multicoloured
Erice on the lon and mountain of western Sicily (751m.) is a magnificent
medieval town, whitch has remained intact until today.
It is a singular synthesis of myth and history, art and culture, landscape
and environment, fantasy and reality.
Its origins are very old, it would seem to have been founded by the mythical
Erice, the son of Venus and Butex, who became king of Elyms, an ancient
mountain people who settled the nearby Segesta.
Erice is considered the main tourist resort of the area including Trapani,
the Aegadin Islands, Segesta, San Vito, Mothia, Marsala and Selinunte.
Amoung the monuments of historical interest are Venus' Castle, Pepoli
Caste, the Tower of the Balio, the beautiful old churches, amoung which
the Madrice (13th C).
Selinus is derived from the Greek name for the sweet-smelling herb they
called Selinon: wild celery (heleioselinon - Apium graveolens) as well
as mountain parsley (Oreoselinon - Petroselinum from which the English
term is corrupted). Funnily enough, this herb that the ancients held in
such high esteem was dedicated to Persephone, it was widely used to crown
victors at the Isthmian games and to make wreaths for adorning the tombs
of the dead. It grew in profusion in this part of Sicily and appears on
the first coins minted by the town.
The ruins are scattered over an almost deserted area having been completely
abandoned since its downfall: the ruined temples continue to point their
impressive great columns to the sky, while other buildings, reduced to
heaps of rubble, probably by an earthquake, inspire a tragic air of utter
desolation. The fine metopes which once adorned several of the temple
friezes are displayed in the archeological museum in Palermo.
There are three main areas: the first, spread across the hill on the eastern
side, contains three large temples; one having been re-erected in 1957.
The second, on the hill to the west and surrounded by walls, comprises
the acropolis, south of the actual town. The third, lying west of the
acropolis, beyond the River Modione, also consisted of a sacred precinct
complete with temples and sanctuaries. In the absence of any sure knowledge
as to which gods the temples were dedicated, scholars have identified
them with letters of the alphabet.
Segesta occupies a splendid position, among gently sloping hills of
yellow-ochre and ruddy brown that, at times, are thrown into marked contrast
by patches of variegated greens around the excavated areas. All the while,
the timeless landscape is presided over by the majestic silhouette of
the Doric temple. Ancient Segesta was probably founded by the Elimi; under
Greek sponsorship, it soon ranked, like Erice (Eryx) among the leading
towns of the Mediterranean basin.
The Temple of Segesta, one of the most perfectly preserved monuments to
survive from Antiquity, stands in majestic solitude on a hill surrounded
by a deep valley, framed by Monte Bernardo and Monte Barbaro where the
theatre is situated.
Between San Vito Lo Capo and Castellammare del Golfo the hillsides, gently
sloping to the sea in a myriad of little coves, herald the beginning of
a natural reserve, the Riserva naturale orientata dello Zingaro.
Narrow paths, specially laid out on the hills, making it possible to sight
one of the most intact Mediterranean ecosystems.
This area is the nesting territory for dozen of avian species: peregrine
falcons, Bonelli’s eagles, buzzards, kestrels, kites and other birds
included in the red list of endangered species. The reserve is a real
oasis of biodiversity, also rich in many rare native plants like the dwarf
palm, the symbol of Zingaro, which spontaneoulsly grows in every recess
In the middle of the reserve the prehistoric cave of Uzzo attests to the
first human settlements in this area.
The promontory of San Vito Lo Capo shared its name with the beach and
the fishing village which developed around an old Saracen fortress, later
turned into a shrine dedicated to San Vito. Tourism is the chief actvity
of this region. The climate, the beach, the sea, the lanes full of flowers,
the intense scents and the breathtaking views provide the visitor with
The three islands that form a mini-archipelago
off Trapani are called Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo; they count some
4,600 inhabitants. All three are blessed with lovely coastlines immersed
in glorious crystal-clear water. The islands which are known to have been
inhabited since prehistoric times (indeed, it is thought that Levanzo
and Favignana formed part of the main island of Sicily in the Palaeolithic
times), witnessed a very important event in Antiquity: for it was in these
waters that the treaty sealing an end to the First Punic War (241 BC)
was signed, whereby Carthage assigned Sicily to the Roman Empire.
The main town of the island, indeed of the archipelago, is built around
a small port that nestles in a large bay. The little town centres around
two piazzas: Piazza Europa and Piazza Madrice which are linked by the main
street, where the evening "constitution" or passeggiata (stroll)
is enacted each evening. On the northeastern edge of town nestles the district
of San Nicola (behind the cemetery) which preserves vestiges of the past:
there is no access to this area, however, as long as it remains private
There are two main beaches: a small sandy bay south of the town in Cala
Azzurra, and, still in the southern part but a little west of this, lies
the broad beach called the Lido Burrone. For those without their own means
of transport, there is an hourly bus service. The rocky bays are more exciting
and thrilling, notably Cala Rossa and Cala del Bue Marino nearby. What makes
these spots especially unusual is the fact that they were once tufa quarries;
deep in the grottoes where the roof has not fallen in, tunnel a network
of long dark and mysterious passages that can be explored by torchlight.
The other half of the island harbours such lovely bays as the Cala Rotonda,
Cala Grande and Punta Ferro, which doubles as a popular area for diving.
The tiny Levanzo (pronounced with an emphasis on the first
syllable) has a surface area of 6 sqm, and is bristled with hills. he northern
part of the island consists of a succession of sheer drops, rocky outcrops
and secluded little creeks. The only hamlet on Levanzo overlooks a bay of
the clearest water on the south side of the island. From here, a well-kept
path snakes its way to the bays that open out along the southwestern coast,
each tightly embracing its very own miniature pebbled beach, as far as the
Faraglione (a large rock).
A steep rocky mountain with great limestone cliffs plunging down into the
sea define this, the most remote island of the Egadi group. Its doors open
only for the more curious visitors arriving at its tiny harbour knowing
that there are no hotels there. The only accommodation available is that
offered by local fishermen and that consists of rented rooms.
At the foot of the mountain, nestles the hamlet of Marettimo,
a compact collection of square white houses and terraces collected together
around the miniature harbour.
Pantelleria is black for its lava stone and obdisian and yet green for
its rich vegetation. The incredible woods at the top of Montagna Grande
(800 metres) offer: pines, oaks and forest trees over six metres tall.
The Mediterranean bush, present alla over the island, alternates wild
olives, blueuberriees, rosemary, and Indian figs. The great variety of
flowers, in spring and fall, clothes the island with the most vivid and
It is hard to think of such a surprising land offering sunbunt coasts
and an African climate and, not far off, fresh woods, an alpine landscape,
and mountain paths penetrating into the depths of trees and plants. Here,
in the proper season, you can even enjoy yourself gathering the different
kinds of mushroom.
Pantelleria, the blue island, with a beautiful transparent sea, that catches
all the nuances and gradation of blue: from the most pale to the most
deep. Wherever you are, on the jagged rocky shores , low, steep or high
, outlined by strems of lava which have solidified, you may observe the
extraordinary contrast of colours: blue, black, green white.
the Annunziata Santuari you can find a beautiful 14th-century marble statue
of the Madonna of Trapani and next to this building stand the collection
of very fine coral works, dispayeed at the Pepoli Museum, inside the old
This tiny island in the middle of a lagoon is so small as not to arouse
the least suspicion that it might have played any role in the history
of its larger neighbour Sicily. Yet, San Pantaleo - its modern name, was
chosen by the Phoenicians as a suitable site for a vital and later prosperous
colony. Its strategic position, surrounded by the shallow waters of the
Stagnone Lagoon (see Saline dello STAGNONE) and naturally protected by
Isola Longa on the seaward side, meant that it was coveted as a strategic
trade-post as much by the Carthaginian as by the Syracusan antagonists.
In the end, this was to be its undoing: besieged by the Syracusan forces,
Motya was completely destroyed and left to abandon until it was rediscovered
at the end of the 19C.