Trapani is a delightful town of Sicily with almost 70,000 inhabitants, situated on the westernmost tip of the island. It is an elegant, refined town, if it were not for the warmth and the blinding sun it could be confused with an exclusive milduropean city.
Looking at the map of the town you can understand that Trapani lives in total symbiosis with the sea and its port, just in the point where Tyrrhenian and Mediterranean seas pass the witness each other.
The visit of the town can start from Vittorio Emanuele Avenue (photo 1), the hub of the historic center and the privileged place of the Trapani nightlife. You can get lost in its countless local restaurants, bar, where tourists and young people just want to fun and socialize.
At the point where Vittorio Emanuele Avenue intersects with the exclusive Torre Arsa Street stands the Palazzo Senatorio (also in photo 1), a beautiful Baroque building. Now it is the Town Hall and appears like a scenery flat in the background of the “Avenue”. The building is characterized by three-tiered structure, adorned with columns and statues. In the first half of the nineteenth century, at the top of the building, the clock and date were added. Continuing along Vittorio Emanuele Avenue you will find the beautiful St. Lawrence Cathedral (photo 2), also in Baroque style, whose facade is enriched by a three-arches pronaos.
The walk inevitably goes through the narrow streets of the old town where you can sit in some coffee and enjoy one of the fantastic Sicilian slushes. You can return to the starting point along the adjacent Libertà Street with its splendid historical palaces, among which stands out for its beauty the Burgio Palace, a 17th-century building, now an office of an important banking institution. Continuing on Libertà Street you come again to Torre Arsa Street and return to the Palazzo Senatorio.
The Province offers a lot to see. You have to visit Erice (30 minutes by car from Trapani), a very nice town at the gates of Trapani, headquarter of the Cultural Scientific Center “Ettore Majorana”, a scientific organization known all over the world, founded by the well-known italian scientist Antonino Zichichi.
There are two ways to reach Erice, either by cable car or by car. I suggest the road that allows you to admire, along the way, stunning views (photo 3) where you can recognize Trapani lying in the sea but also the Egadi Islands. When you arrive you can reach the old town through the “Trapani Gate” and then you can go to the central Vittorio Emanuele Street (photo 4).
You should definitely taste the local specialty, the “Genovesi”, a typical sweet made with short pastry, custard and icing sugar (photo 5). It seems that the name “Genovesi” comes from the form of the hat of the Genoese sailors (there was in fact a period in which the trades between Trapani and Genoa were very intense). Continuing on the main road you will find on the left the beautiful Mother Church (photo 6), dating back to the 14th century, although the inside part has been extensively reworked.
The internal part of the Church is accessible for a fee. More interesting is the climb to the bell tower, a bit tiring but in the end you can admire a beautiful view from above. Continuing you reach the central Umberto Square and, at the highest point of the city, at the Castle of the Balio (photo 7).
The saltworks of Stagnone
Trapani has a great tradition in salt production. The Saltworks of Stagnone (photo 8) are perhaps the most well-known (30 minutes drive from Trapani) of them. It should be better to visit them at sunset time, to enjoy the best of the sky colors.
It is a very scenic (and photogenic) landscape, especially thanks to the old mill that is the cornerstone of a fascinating natural landscape. From the salt marshes there is also boarding for the island of Mozia, which can be reached in about 15 minutes by boat.
I say that if you are not big fan of Phoenician art, the visit leaves a bit disappointed, as well as quite expensive (14 euros between the cost of boat passage and entry ticket on the island).
However, the island is very quiet and lets relax under the trees, perhaps listening to the cicadas. The Whitaker Museum on the island is for Phoenician lovers. In particular, it deserves to be admired the marble statue of the young man, a Greek opera of the fifth century BC.
Mazara del Vallo
It’s very interesting the visit of Mazara del Vallo (1 hour drive from Trapani), a large town that represents an important example (among the first in Italy) of perfect integration and peaceful coexistence between different cultures, with North African and Maghreb citizens who here, for decades, work and produce mainly in the field of fishing. A significant part of the visit of the town is represented by Casbah (photo 10), an intricate maze of lanes where it is easy to hear Arabic speaking and come across people dressed in traditional clothes.
The neighborhood is characterized by the beautiful private gardens and beautiful majolica that dotted everywhere the walls of the neighborhood depicting faces, phrases, images.
The St. Francis Church is also beautiful, with a richly decorated baroque interior (photo 11).
It’s very interesting the visit of the Museum of Dancing Satyr (photo 12), in Plebiscito Square. The Museum is entirely dedicated to the bronze statue of the “Dancing Satyr” found in 1998 and dating from the 4th to the 1st century BC. It is 2 and a half meters high, without legs and arms and has alabaster eyes.
How to get Trapani
It is possible to reach Trapani by car, even though it is a challenge at the limits of heroism. They are more than 1,000 km from Rome and almost 1,600 km from Milan! More relaxing an airplane flight to Trapani-Birgi (or Palermo-Punta Raisi) airport and associate with a car rental. Another solution is to arrive in Sicily with your car with a transfer in the ship to Palermo with departures from Genoa, Civitavecchia or Naples.
Where to sleep
I can suggest the Maccotta Hotel in Trapani (Argentieri Street No. 6) which is in the heart of the historic center and has quite affordable prices. It is very convenient as it allows to live the town full, being just a few meters from the central Vittorio Emanuele Avenue. Very good breakfast but some problems for car parking. For my full review on Tripadvisor, click here.
Where to eat
The historic center of Trapani is full of places where you can taste local specialties, cous cous, busiate (a kind of home-made pasta), swordfish. You have to taste the excellent Sicilian slushes, mulberries , almonds, lemons and strawberries.
You absolutely stop at the “Munnu Arancinu”, a small local street food that offers the finest “arancini” (fried rice balls) in the town, also because they are fried at the moment. The local is located in Turretta Street, a few steps from the Palazzo Senatorio. For my full review on Tripadvisor, click here.
At Erice there are dozens of pastry shops and resist them it’s really difficult.
Maria Grammatico’s confectionery is the best in the town, mentioned in all tourist guides. A stop is required.