Erice is a medieval village located in the province of Trapani. It is 750 metres above sea level and therefore offers an incredible panoramic view of the Gulf of Trapani and the Egadi Islands.
The village is made up of many cobbled streets that intersect each other. As they walk, they pass churches and squares from which one can glimpse wonderful stretches of sea. It has an atmosphere based on ancient roots, made up of dominations that managed to thrive within its defensive walls. We are talking about Phoenicians, Normans, Arabs and Romans. Along the walls, you will find several entrances to the village.
It is not very far from Trapani, only fifteen kilometres away, which is why in summer you can travel between the two places using the cable car. The journey only takes 10 minutes!
When you enter the town, you pass through Porta Trapani and arrive right in front of the Real Chiesa Matrice Insigne Collegiata, known as the ‘Cathedral of Erice’. It was Frederick of Aragon who wanted it with all his might, in the 14th century. Piazza Matrice, in Gothic style, is also the backdrop for the Bell Tower, once used as a lookout tower.
Strolling further on is Corso Vittorio, over which stands the Church of San Martino, built at the behest of Roger the Norman.
Probably the most impressive site, however, is the Castle of Venus from Norman times, perched on a cliff and built between the 12th and 13th centuries. The name derives from the pre-existing temple dedicated to the cult of the goddess Venus. The position was strategic, in fact it could promptly intercept any attempted incursion. Suffice it to say that on days with perfect visibility, from the Castle, one can even see Pantelleria and Mazara del Vallo.
Not far from the Castle, it is possible to visit the Balio Gardens and the medieval towers. Just below one of these is Torretta Pepoli. It stands on a small platform and in 1870 (the year it was built) was built by Count Pepoli to make it a meeting place for intellectuals. Today, its function is solely as a multimedia museum.
Palazzo Municipale is both home to the Municipal Library and the Civic Museum, which houses archaeological finds such as the marble Head of Aphrodite from the 4th century BC.
Just outside the nucleus of the village is the Spanish quarter, which was started to be built with the intention of providing accommodation for Spanish soldiers, but was never finished.
Erice is the centre of the Ettore Majorana Centre for Scientific Culture, a scientific organisation founded in 1963 and world-famous enough to give it the title of City of Science for Peace.
Lastly, the food in Erice is of truly excellent quality, you have a vast choice of restaurants and bars but don’t forget to taste the simplest ‘pane cunzato’: durum wheat bread baked strictly in a wood-fired oven and seasoned with tomatoes, pecorino cheese, anchovies and oil. Don’t forget to finish your meal with ‘genovesi’, typical local sweets filled with custard.