Erice is a wonderfully preserved Medieval town, towering at 751 mt above sea level and offering the most breathtaking views. Situated on Sicily’s west coast, the historic town looks down over the harbour of Trapani, surrounded by defensive town walls. Its strong fortified position is partly responsible for a stream of invaders, from its likely foundation by the Elymians, through to the Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs and Normans
Your itinary to the discovery of this amazing vollage could start from Porta Trapani and walk through the alley streets and the squares, bordered by churches and palaces that, in open spaces, reveal majestic landscapes. Erice is famous for its numerous churches, indeed it was known as the city with a hundred churches. However, in reality there are less but most of them woth a visit. Besides the Church of San Martino, in Norman style, and the Church of Sant’Albertino degli Abbati, we will highlight the oldest, the Mother Church, dedicated to the cult of Santa Maria Assunta. Its quadrangular bell tower is embellished with mullioned windows; it is a structure with the function of defending and sighting. There are nine crosses in the right wall of the church: legend has it that those crosses came from the temple of Venus, carried by Frederick of Aragon, who was a runaway and refugee in the city during the War of the Vespers. Among the most beautiful places, there is the Spanish neighborhood. It is said that this area was made in the period of Spanish rule in order to accommodate Spanish soldiers, as it was mandatory for every city of Sicily. Erice’s symbol is the Venus Castle (Castello di Venere), built by the Normans who used materials from the temple of Venus in Erice, from which the castle takes its name. The castle was surrounded by towers and beside them there is the Balio, a wonderful garden from which you enjoy an extraordinary panorama.
And after this long walk there is a sweet reward. A very sweet reward with a long history and authentic taste. I’m speaking about La Pasticceria Maria Grammatico, one of the most popular place to visit around Trapani, where you can taste the typical Erice pastries genovese, made with almond paste, handcrafted and made only with natural ingredients, just as they did five centuries ago in the convents of the cloistered nuns or a delicious sicilian cassata or the fragrant almond pastries like the titbits or the martorana fruit.
The most exciting way to get to Erice is by taking the cable-car which climbs from the outskirts of Trapani to the town wall of Erice, its station just outside Porta Trapani, the gateway into the old town. The ten-minute journey is wonderfully panoramic, with views back over Trapani, the sea and the Egadi Islands. The funivia runs every day from morning to night, except Mondays when it generally opens only at 2pm. Inconveniently, the Trapani cable-car station is about five km from central Trapani, but there are urban buses which connect the town centre with the cable-car (buy tickets then catch the 21 or 23 from Piazza Vittorio Emanuele).
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