With a catchment area of 24 sq. miles, Custonaci’s marble quarry district (the largest in Sicily and the second largest in Italy and Europe) is of great geological and economic importance. Custonaci surprises visitors not only for its marble, and its sanctuary, but also for its extraordinary sea views that can be enjoyed from various vantage points. From the lookout spot at the town park, next to the Town Hall one is captured by the fabulous sight of Mount Erice to the south while to the north the view closes in on Mount Cofano rising majestically over the Cornino Bay.
This small bay, home to Custonaci’s own ancient fishing village of Cornino, has a picturesque sandy cove frequented by many bathers in the summer, most of whom attracted by the crystal clear waters, have chosen this coast as a holiday resort. The splendid sea, which in 2001 became the proud holder of the European blue flag, is ideal for water sports and boat excursions, while the abundance of fish on the seabed is inviting for those who love fishing.
The urban development of the city of Custonaci is linked to the pilgrimages to the shrine of “Our Lady of Custonaci” where the precious 16th century image of the Virgin Mary with child is venerated.
There is a strong bond between the people in the territory of Erice and ‘Our Lady of Custonaci’, her being patron of numerous other townships that once belonged to Erice. The sanctuary has been for centuries a destination for pilgrims coming to pay homage to the Virgin Mary, whose painting arrived from the sea, according to tradition, on a Venetian or French ship, having survived shipwreck and landing at Cala Buguto at the foot of Mt Cofano. During the celebrations held in honour of ‘Our Lady’ every last Monday of the month of August, this event is commemorated with the suggestive arrival of a sailing ship. A copy of the painting is disembarked in the spectacular setting of the bay, illuminated by fireworks in the presence of a large crowd who then follow the sacred image to the village by torchlight.
Starting off from the Bay of Cala Buguto, you can enter the Mount Cofano Nature Reserve taking time to admire the tower of St. John (XVI century), the church of the Crucifix and the former Cofano tuna plant (‘tonnara’).
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A tour through the history of bluefin tuna, the most prized of our seas. A gastronomic and naturalistic itinerary along the breathtaking coastline of western Sicily.