Project Description

Trapani, Drepanon in Greek, has a scythe shape and an enviable location: between the Mediterranean Sea and the Ionian one, beneath Mount Erice, near the archeological site of Selinunte, in front of Egadi Islands and the so-known salt pans.

Over the years the city has developed a flourishing economic activity related to salt extraction and trade, bluefin tuna fishing, and marble exportation. The cultural  hub of the whole area, it hosts one of the oldest High Schools in Sicily, many libraries and a large number of interesting museums. Walking through the old town, the signs of the passage of various civilizations over the centuries are immediately evident, and all left architectural, artistic and monumental evidences. Its oldest and characteristic streets are: Via Garibaldi, Corso Italia and Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

 Must-visit attractions:

1 –Ligny Tower

Built during the Spanish domination as a defense against pirate raids the Ligny Tower is one of the symbols of the city. It is located at the edge of the west coast and provides a breathtaking view over the Sicilian Channel and the Tyrrhenian Sea. During the Second World War it served as an anti-aircraft post for the Navy, whereas today it houses the Museum of Prehistory and a marine archaeological exhibition hall that keeps a helmet found in Trapani depths.

Ligny Tower, Trapani – ph. Paolo Barone

2 – The Clock Tower

In the very heart of the town, overlaying one of the old watchtowers, the Clock Tower is the oldest city gate. On its front you can admire one of the oldest astronomical clocks in Europe dating back to 1596 and representing a rare peculiarity. The clock has in fact two circular dials: the dial of the Sun, whose hands indicate the astrological signs of the zodiac, the solstices, the equinoxes, the seasons and the cardinal points, and the dial of the Lunario marking, instead, the phases of the moon.

3 – The Mysteries of Purgatory Church

The eighteenth-century Purgatory Church  safeguards the “Mysteries”, 20 sculptures made by Trapani artisans, depicting the Passion of Christ.

In this church of Spanish origin, every Good Friday we can witness one of the oldest religious events in Italy: The procession of the Mysteries.  The twenty masterpieces are carried through the streets of the city. The grand procession winds through the streets during 24 hours, creating an exciting experience of religiosity, sounds, lights and colours. The sculptures, adorned with precious ornaments and floral arrangements, are carried on the shoulders by the  “Massari”, who beat the “annacata” to give the sacred sculptures a movement that follows the rhythms set by the notes of the musical bands.

Learn more on Holy Week in Sicily, the celebrations you should not miss

4 – Fountain of Saturn

The Baroque Fountain of Saturn is located in the square in front of Sant’Agostino Church. It was built in 1342 by the will of the noble family Chiaramonte and later on it was enriched by a statue featuring Saturn, the mythical founder of Trapani. It is connected with the layers of Mount Erice and it was one of the first fountains realized with the aim of getting water to the city houses.

5 – Sant’Agostino Church

The former Templars Chapel, built near the medieval city wall, the Churh of Sant’Agostino is one of the oldest churches in Trapani. The former Templars Chapel, built near the medieval city wall, the Churh of Sant’Agostino is one of the oldest churches in Trapani.  Originally it was dedicated to San Giovanni Battista  and lately, under the reign of Frederick III, it was entrusted to the Augustinian monks that made it their monastery.  It is characterized by a gothic gabled façade and a polygonal apse. Nowadays, it is a location for conferences and events.

6 – The Cathedral of San Lorenzo Martire

The Cathedral of Trapani, located in the city center, was built in 1102 as adjoining Chapel of the Genovesi Consulate. In 1639 It was renewed upon a project by the architect Bonaventura Certo. The main façade is characterized by a a sandstone loggia that elevates the building at an upper level from the ground. The basilica has a Latin cross plan with three naves separated by six columns and connected to each other by overlying arches.

7 – Villa Margherita

Trapani majestic park goes back to the Unification of Italy, it was opened to visitors since 1889 and was dedicated to Queen Margaret of Savoy, after which it is named. Among secular trees, benches, doric columns and marble statues, a birdhouse with dozens of bird species, capercaillies and parrots draws our attention. Let’s take the chance to appreciate this quiet setting, the coolness of the pond full of subtropical and water plants, ducks, gooses and swans swanning around. The City Park houses also an open-air opera theatre, an occasional concert place in summer nights where you can enjoy nice music performances.

8 – Museo Pepoli

Count Agostino Sieri Pepoli, patron of Trapani, founded the museum in 1906 on the site of the fourteenth-century former convent of the Carmelite Fathers, next to the sanctuary of Maria SS. Annunziata.

The museum hosts a collection of Sicilian works of art from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries, including sculptures of the Gagini School and collections of figurative and decorative arts of the region. There is an impressive collection of corals, majolica, and gold and silver artefacts. Here the mid-fourteenth century marble statue of the Madonna of Trapani by Nino Pisano is preserved.
Learn more about Museo Pepoli

9 – Mozia

Here is the island museum! A suggestive dive into the past of Phoenician sailors and Greek settlers.

The island can be reached by boat, a short ride across the lagoon lulled by the sun, the slight rocking motion and the chatter of the boatman. The pier is next to the salt marshes, about 30 km from Marsala, and it is in itself a unique place.

Isola di Mozia – ph. Paolo Barone

The boat ride takes a few minutes and you can start your tour by following the path of the walls uncovered in many spots, either to the right or to the left.

Mozia probably had four doors. At both end of the island, there are the North Gate and South Gate. If we go to the right, towards the northern part of the island, we will enter through the North Door. But, before entering, we can admire an extraordinary work that can clearly be seen during the low tide: it is a road built on the marshy and shallow seabed, which connected the island to Sicily.

If you enter the city through the North Gate, you can find the remains of an interesting monumental sanctuary called Cappiddazzu, maybe named after a scarecrow barn that identified the place. Not far away, near a pottery kiln, you can find the beautiful statue of the so-called Young of Mozia, exhibited in the local museum. Further west, you find the archaic necropolis with the tombs of ashes, and then there is the Tophet, a vast triangular sacred precinct, where the followers of the Phoenician gods celebrated their rites.

Going further to the west and then east, bordering on the walls, or through the pathways between the fields, we reach the southern part of the island where you will find the South Gate and Kothon. This is an extraordinary artificial port, almost a dockyard, built with the typical techniques of the Phoenician-Punic engineers; it dates back to the sixth century. It has a rectangular shape, the bottom is made from natural and smoothed rock and the edges are made of smooth and square blocks. The sea water gets inside the basin through a narrow channel with a single longitudinal groove, built to pull the ships aground. The side wharves were used for docking and maintaining ships.

From here, continuing east, you reach the so-called Casa dei Mosaici, a beautiful house with a peristyle characterized by Doric columns. It has a refined mosaic, made with sea pebbles, depicting some animals and decorative bands.

Within walking distance, there is the small museum of the island, the Museo Whitaker, which houses the famous marble statue of Young Mozia, or Charioteer of Mozia as some like to call it, after its restorations and exhibitions. Presumably it is a mid-fifth  century BC marble statue, whose origins, artistic style and  symbolic representation are unknown, so that archeologists define it as the statues of mysteries. Unique in its kind, it could represent the one who was driving war wagons, a winner athlete, a magistrate, or even a god.

The Museum exhibits the artifacts found on the island, from the oldest to the most recent excavations. The most interesting things are: a sculpture that depicts two lions fighting with a bull, the many examples of steles from the Tophet, grave goods, ceramics, and glass jars for perfumes and ointments. The presence of Greek artefacts in a Punic province, shows that deep cultural contacts were established between the Punic and Greek civilizations. The same young Auriga – the fine pleated tunic that softly veils the body – presents together Punic and Hellenized characteristics.

In addition to the fascinating millenary history, you can also enjoy a lush nature. Mozia is in the heart of the Riserva Naturale Orientata delle Isole dello Stagnone, which includes the Isola Grande, Schola and Santa Maria.

In addition to the fascinating millenary history, you can also enjoy a lush nature. Mozia is in the heart of the Riserva Naturale Orientata delle Isole dello Stagnone, which includes the Isola Grande, Schola and Santa Maria.

Marsala saline stagnone

Salt flats of Marsala – Ph I. Mannarano

Here, thanks to the harmony between sea, wind and sun, man created over the centuries the salt marshes, an area of tanks, channels, beams and windmills where resident and migratory birds today find shelter.

You do not want to miss one of the most beautiful sunsets on the Mediterranean Sea from this Via del Sale.

Sunset at the alle Saline di Marsala – ph. Paolo Barone

Discover in the area of Trapani, Scopello, San Vito Lo Capo, Marsala and surroundings

10 – Flavours not to be missed

And now the food: let’s start from red shrimp of Mazara del Vallo, ammaru russu in the Sicilian language, caught in Mediterrean sea.

In the Valle del Belice  we can taste the vastedda, typical light DOP cheese.

The black bread of Castelvetrano is cooked in a wood oven and has the top coffee-colored and golden yellow in the inner part. Black color comes from the union of different kind of local flours.

Vastedda del Belice e pane nero di Castelvetrano – ph. P. Barone

Trapani sea salt, provided with the PGI mark, is a Slow Food presidium and is famous all over the world! Even today it is produced according to the ancient artisanal procedures lasting 5-6 months and ending with the the manual harvesting during the summer period. It is mainly produced within Riserva Naturale interale Saline di Trapani e Paceco, in a picturesque landscape made of windmills, white salt pyramids and pink flamingos.

Artisan producers of Trapani sea salt, PGI mark – ph. Paolo Barone

Protagonist of one of the dishes in Trapani (a pasta cu l’agghia , pasta with garlic) is the red garlic of Nubia.

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Caper of Pantelleria is picked up between May and September and kept under salt for about twenty days: it gives an intense taste to the dishes.

One of the typical dishes in which it is used is the caponata of eggplants.

Caponata di melanzane - Ph I. Mannarano

Caponata di melanzane – Ph I. Mannarano