Erice and the surroundings
The town is located on the top of an isolated mountain, at the north-western end of Sicily, and is 15 km from Trapani.
At 750 m. above sea level, Erice is located in a splendid panoramic position and on clear days it is possible to identify Mount Etna on the horizon: the city has now established itself as one of the main Sicilian tourist destinations. Integrated with the morphology of the mountain and harmoniously merged with the splendid surrounding nature.
The urban layout has a perfect triangular shape and is bordered on the western side by Cyclopean walls, interrupted by towers and three Norman gates: Porta Spada, Porta del Carmine and Porta Trapani.
South-east of the town is the beautiful garden of the Balio, within which stands the Pepoli castle, built in the Norman age and largely modified in the 19th century to be transformed into a villa. It dates back to the 12th century the castle of Venus: a typical medieval fortress built in the area where the ancient sanctuary of Venus Ericina once stood.
Erice accommodates more than sixty churches, some of which are architectural documents of great value and valuable historical evidence: among them the church of San Martino, of San Cataldo, of San Giuliano, of San Giovanni Battista.
The church of San Giuliano was built by the Normans around the year one thousand and heavily transformed in the seventeenth century; interesting for its pink stone facade is today used as a conference hall and cultural center.
ITINERARIES AND SURROUNDINGS
Going down from the Erice mountain and continuing on the road that goes from Trapani to Marsala, we propose you an unforgettable itinerary, between nature and culture, inside the Stagnone, a low stretch of water of the sea, nowadays become Oriented Natural Reserve, for the richness of flora and fauna. Here the magical enchanting landscape is dominated by windmills (some of the 16th century, completely restored in their wooden gears) used for the "culture of sea salt": a unique and varied spectacle at any time of the year.
From June to September, the collection of salt and the endless expanses of small white mounds; the solemn quiet of winter rest, dominated by the large trapezoids of tiles that protect the salt; the various stages of preparation of the crop, in the spring. Even the island of Mozia is worth a visit: the short stretch of sea that separates it from the mainland was once crossed by carts full of grapes pulled by oxen sunk into the water for about a meter.
The city, of Phoenician origin, had great strategic importance for the operations of the Carthaginians against the Greeks of Sicily and was besieged and conquered by Dionysius of Syracuse in 397 BC Abundant remains of the Phoenician settlement on the whole island and rich in archaeological finds the Museum housed in the villa Whitaker, residence of the English family who settled in Sicily at the end of the 19th century: among all not to be missed is the admirable statue of the Auriga.
Still today in the island are cultivated wine grapes that made it famous in ancient times and for some years now the production of a very precious wine, made with ancient Phoenician techniques, has been resumed.