Things to Do in Trapani
A visit to Erice (pronounced EH-ri-chay) starts with the journey itself – either by riding the summer cable car or driving the dramatic winding road to the top of the Erice Mountain. Towering 750m over the port of Trapani, Erice is undeniably photogenic, affording spectacular views along the Sicilian coast and the nearby Egadi Islands. It’s also a striking example of a medieval fortified town and has a history dating back to ancient times, when it was an important center of the cult of Venus.
The best way to discover Erice is on foot, climbing the steep rough-paved lanes and stopping to browse the many small shops and bakeries, where artisans sell local specialties like almond biscuits and ceramics. The obvious highlight of Erice is the hilltop Castello di Venere (Castle of Venus) and Torre di Pepoli (Tower of Pepoli), and following the impressively preserved medieval town walls is a popular pastime. Additional sights of interest include the lively Piazza Umberto I, the 14th-century Chiesa Madre church, the medieval Church of Saint John the Baptist and several other historic churches.
The Natural Reserve on the Sicilian coast from Trapani to Marsala is set aside for multiple uses, from collecting sea salt to preserving wildlife. The salt pans are still used to harvest sea salt, using the same methods that have been used for centuries, which include the use of some historic windmills. There is also a museum, set in a former salt mill, that is dedicated to the salt harvesting history in the area.
As a haven for wildlife, the Trapani and Paceco Salt Pans Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Integrale Saline di Trapani e Paceco) has been under the direction of WWF Italy since 1995, and visitors can often see more than 150 species of birds here. Among them, look for flamingoes, cranes, storks and osprey.