Miniature watercolour sketch, by me, of the Norman castle atop Erice
OK, I fibbed, I shall be writing about the 2 parts of Erice in three posts. The first, this one, gives an overview of Erice which is a city on two levels: the hilltop town (which will be the second part); and the lower, beachside town (which will be covered in the third part).
So, this first part covers the Erice summary, where it is, a bit about its history and, importantly, why anyone should want to visit the town.
Erice (pronounced eh-ri-che) is an interesting place with a long history that goes back over 3000 years when it was founded, on the hilltop, by the Phoenicians. It was later occupied by the Carthaginians, Romans, Greeks, Saracens and Normans. Most of the upper town was built relatively recently but the castle dates back to the Norman era.
Erice forms part of the Trapani municipality. Trapani has its own airport at Birgi, outside Marsala, though it’s also possible to reach Trapani / Erice from Palermo airport, about an hour away by car.
Trapani itself is at the extreme west of Sicily, facing the Egadi island group that is accessible by ferry from the port. Marsala is the furthest point on the west of the island. The lower part of Erice (Casa Santa and San Cusumano) sits north of Trapani and under Monte Erice (or Monte San Giuliano as it used to be known), the hill on which Antica (old) Erice sits. A cable car system joins the old town to lower Erice.
In summer, visitors to Erice tend to head for the beaches along the coast, though I personally am not a great fan of beaches. I much prefer coffee, wine and food to gritty sand and sunburn – I did my sunbathing and water sports when I was younger. To escape the heat a lot of tourists drive or take the cable car up to Antico Erice or to the shops. I will deal with Trapani in a separate post but that’s were the shops are if beaches and Museums are not a high priority.
Getting to Erice
By plane to either Palermo or Trapani airports.
Car, taxi or bus from the airport to the town. Taxi fares are high – about 140 euros from Palermo airport to Trapani. The journey time from Palermo airport to Erice, via the autostrada, is about an hour. Trapani airport to Erice is about half that time.
What to do and see
Museums, churches, beach, shops, restaurants, bars and nature!
Parts 2 and 3 to follow.
Published from my iPhone