Monuments and archaeological sites

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Monuments and archaeological sites

The monumental route begins from Trapani, capital city of the former Province, with its characteristic historical centre – the oldest part of which preserves paved streets and houses with courtyards of Arabic influence.
Along the main streets baroque churches and buildings stand out: noteworthy façades include ‘Palazzo Milo’ on Via Garibaldi, ‘Palazzo Senatorio’ (ie Senate or City Council) on Via Torrearsa, the ‘Chiesa del Collegio dei Gesuiti’ on Corso Vittorio Emanuele: the latter has a richly decorated interior of marble and plaster.

Along the same street is the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, built on a chapel of the Genoa Consulate, presumably of the 11th century, rebuilt in the 17th, with an 18th century portico.
The church of Purgatory (17th century) with an 18th century façade deserves a visit. It houses the sculpted statues of the Mysteries, made in papier-maché (ie wood, canvas and glue), depicting episodes from the Passion of Christ, which are carried in procession on Good Friday.
Not to be missed- the 14th century church of Sant’Agostino (on piazzetta Saturno) with a rose window in chiaramontano Gothic style, and San Domenico (on Piazza San Domenico), which enshrines a Gothic wooden crucifix and three 13th century frescoes in a chapel behind the apse.
Outside of the historical centre lies the 14th century sanctuary of the Annunciation, home to the precious marble statue of the Trapani Madonna, attributed to Nino Pisano (around 1360). The adjacent former Carmelite convent is home to the Regional Museum “A. Pepoli” which includes collections of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts with a well documented collection of coral produced in the Trapani area, with pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries.

After Trapani, the next leg of the monumental route is certainly Erice, a town on the summit of the mountain of the same name, at 751 metres above sea level. Of ancient Elymian origins, it was then inhabited by Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans. Its narrow streets, paved with cobblestones still preserve its medieval feel.

The north-west stretch of the city walls still remains, the so-called “Cyclopean” walls: built by the Elymians (8th century BC), reinforced by the Carthaginians (6th century BC) and then much later completed by the Normans (12th century AD). Along them are three gates: Porta Spada (ie Sword’s Gate), Porta Carmine, and Porta Trapani.
An interesting monument is the Mother-Church with the nearby bell tower. Built in the 14th century, the church interior was completely renovated in the 19th century. The church contains valuable works of art including a marble altar by Giuliano Mancino (1533). The bell tower is from the 13th century with elements of chiaramontano Gothic style.
You can also visit the Norman castle, built on the ruins of the temple of Venus, the Balio gardens, the ‘Museum hub’ collecting significant archaeological evidence found in Erice and its surroundings, as well as paintings and sculptures, including an Annunciation by Antonello Gagini (1525) and other artifacts of local artisan manufacture.
Heading down from the summit of Erice you reach the hilly area of Valderice. A must visit- the enchanting Sanctuary of ‘Our Lady of Mercy’ (‘Santuario di Maria Santissima della Misericordia’) erected on the site of a shrine which housed a Madonna with miraculous powers. Built between the 17th and 18th centuries, it was completed by Trapani-born architect Biagio Amico. Also of interest, the so-called Arco del Cavaliere, the remainder of an old square chapel used to house the sacred picture of the Madonna of Custonaci during its transportation between Custonaci and Erice.

Set in the municipal pine forest, an open air theatre created in a disused quarry comes to life during the summer season hosting important cultural events. Worth visiting- the Molino Excelsior, the largest grain-milling facility in the area that worked from the early 1900’s until the end of the 60’s and can still be visited. It now houses a cooking workshop and a lecture hall.
Descending from the town centre of Valderice towards the sea, along the road where 19th-century villas and lush gardens stand out, we arrive in the picturesque fishing port of Bonagia. There the impressive tower of the ‘tonnara’-fortress (16th-17th century) rises, that is now a small museum to the adjacent tuna-fishing facility. The tonnara itself, despite being transformed into a hotel, still retains the character of the old structure; the storerooms on the ground floor and the living area on the first floor face onto the large inner courtyard.

 

TO SEE

  • porta trapani

    Porta Carmine – Erice

    Along the city walls can still be seen 3 gates called Trapani, Carmine and Spada. Porta Trapani: so named...

  • porta trapani

    Porta Spada – Erice

    Along the city walls can still be seen 3 gates called Trapani, Carmine and Spada. Porta Trapani: so named...

  • Torretta Pepoli Erice

    Torretta Pepoli (Pepoli Turret) – Erice

    To the Count Agostino Pepoli (1848-1911), scholar, collector, patron, founder of the Pepoli Museum in Trapani, is owed the...

  • basolati e venule ericine

    Stone-paved streets and “venule (narrow alleys)”

    The cobbled streets are the original pavings of Erice: from the older pavings made exclusively of stones or simple...

  • Chiesa Santa Orsola Erice

    Church of St. Ursula (or Our Lady of Sorrows)

    It is undoubtedly the most original church in Erice thanks to the presence of Gothic and Renaissance elements inside...

  • Quartiere Spagnolo Erice

    Spanish Quarter – Erice

    It is a strong unfinished building, started in the 18th century to host a garrison of Spanish soldiers but...

  • Chiesa di  San Giovanni

    Church of St. John

    The existence of the church is traced back by local historians to the 14th century (1339), but probably the...

  • chiesa san giuliano erice

    Church of St. Julian

    According to the legend it was built by Ruggero (Roger) of Altavilla in 1076, to thank the Hospitaller Saint...

  • castello di venere erice

    The Castle

    The architectural structure visible today dates back to the 12th century; it was built using materials of an existing...

  • Chiesa San Martino

    CHURCH OF ST. MARTIN

    The original church of St. Martin, of small size, was probably founded by count Ruggero (Roger) the Norman and...

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