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

  • Torre e Tonnara di Bonagia

    Tower and tunnery of Bonagia

    The structure of the former tunnery, one of the most interesting from an architectural point of view , now...

  • Arco Del Cavaliere

    The Knight’s arch.

    Along the road that once led from Erice to Custonaci in the former trazzera of knight Rizzuto or ‘road...

  • Santuario di Maria Santissima della Misericordia  1

    Sanctuary ‘Our Lady of Mercy’

    A pilgrimage site since the 17th century, it stands on the site of a shrine which contained the miraculous...

  • IMG_0104

    St. Crescentia’s Chapel

    The charming small square building with its peculiar dome with pointed arches is an original piece of typical local...

  • piazza san vito

    The Sanctuary

    The sanctuary-fortress was built in the 15th century almost certainly to protect pilgrims from pirates, incorporating the body of...

  • Teatro San Barnaba

    San Barnaba Theater – Valderice

    It’s one of the most beautiful examples of modern architecture in this area. It was started in 1986 and...

  • madonna

    Pilgrim’s House

    Next to the shrine is the former “Pilgrim’s House and Franciscan monastery” with architectural elements from the 1500’s and,...

  • santuario1

    The ‘Our Lady of Custonaci’ Sanctuary

    Built in the late sixteenth century, the sanctuary is the town’s most representative monument, the site of an ancient...

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