Erice, history and sighteeing
If you want to experience a different, unusual atmosphere, or you just wish to breathe some fresh air in summer during your holidays in Scopello, we truly recommend a visit to Erice: a little hamlet hanging on the clouds where time seems to have stopped at the medieval era. The city is located on top of Mount Erice (Mount San Giuliano) at 750m above the sea level: the view from here is absolutely astonishing, since the town overlooks Trapani with its salt pans, the Aegadian Islands and the whole western coast heading towards Marsala – as well as Capo San Vito in the east. You can choose to enjoy this wonderful panorama even as you approach the city, with the cableway that connects the outskirts of Trapani to the town.
The ancient name of the city had mythological origins: Eryx was the son of Aphrodite, killed by Hercules. This beautiful hamlet was probably built by exiles from Troy, the Elyms who also founded Segesta; it was destroyed by the Carthaginians during the first Punic war and then lost much of its former importance. Later on, Erice was ruled by Arabs and Normans, who renamed it Monte San Giuliano.
Stone houses with flowering courts stand along narrow, winding roads ending up in pretty medieval squares: the atmosphere here is quite magical and enchanting. Two castles can be observed in the city: the Venus Castle was built by the Normans on top of an ancient Temple of Venus (where the Romans worshipped the so-called “Venere ericina”), while the Pepoli Castle is even more ancient, dating from Saracen times. Don’t forget to visit the Cordici museum: among the various, valuable paintings, coin collections and archaeological finds, you will find the wonderful “Annunciazione” by Antonello Gagini, one of the most important Sicilian artists of all times.
Erice is a folkloristic city by nature; during summer, anyway, its medieval traits are even more enlightened by the Middle-Ages and Renaissance Music Week. The atmosphere is really unique during these days: medieval music echoes throughout the whole town and you will really feel like you’ve travelled through time!
…And as it always happens in any part of Sicily, Erice has plenty of delicious typical food products to offer you. The traditional pastry is made with almonds and candied fruit; citrus conserve and the typical liquor from Erice will introduce you to flavors of ancient Sicily that you will want to take back home with you. Last but not least, the amazing “genovesi alla crema”, short pastry filled with custard: taste one of them while you walk through the narrow little streets of the town, and feel free to get lost in this wonderful corner on top of western Sicily!