Weekend in Erice

An weekend excursion right above Trapani

Photo by Mo
Erice is located on Mount Erice. Its name comes from Erix, the mythological figure, son of Aphrodite and Bootes, who was killed by Hercules. It’s said that Erice was originally a Trojan colony and that, after their exile, they found refuge there by uniting with the locals and forming the Elimi population.

Erice is a great place to visit, and it’s very easy to get to the top of Mount Erice even by car. However, the most scenic route can be had if you take the lift up the mountain, where you can admire the salt fields of Trapani and the brilliant Sicilian sea. 
Once you reach the top, you should visit the Castello di Venere which dominates the entire countryside. It was originally built on the ruins of a temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess, which the Romans called Venus. The Normans built the castle in the 12th century, leaving behind fascinating architectural features along with many fragments of the original sanctuary.

A great stone slab is inscribed with the Augsburg Hawk right beside the castle dungeons. The presence of a large stone tub gives us the idea that there also used to be a thermal bathhouse back in Roman times. The Castle’s view of Sicily’s western coast is without equal, a truly romantic sight. Erice, the city, is also a lovely place to visit; every other street leads to the seaside, the entire city is paved with square stones, and you’ll find a ton of churches and monasteries. Erice has over 60 of them!


You'll find an incomparably romantic view of the Sicilian sea from the Castello di Venere

Photo by neekoh.fi
Erice is an irresistable mix of medieval and Normanic styles that give the place a rare austere beauty. 
If you enter the city through the Porta di Trapani, you’ll soon find the 14th century Chiesa Matrice, an interesting place that was entirely built with stones from the Temple of Venus. The church is fortified, with buttresses and a large gothic portico. The façade is decorated with a large rose, which illuminates the whole church with its special light. The bell tower is disconnected from the main church building, and it resembles a normal castle tower much more than a religious building.

On the Via Dell’Addolorata that leads to Porta Carmine a Porta Spada, you can find one of the better preserved segments of ancient wall. The wall used to only runa long the North-Eastern side of the city, since that’s the only part that it’s exposed on. 
Erice has its own museum, in case you aren’t satisfied with all the archological finds you’ve already seen. Its called Cordici Museum, and it stands within the city hall along with a big historical library, where vast quantities of archeological treasures are kept.

When you get hungry, you should try out the Maria Erice Cafè, which is well stocked with sweet and savoury Sicilian delicacies. The food, combined with the amazing view, is certainly something you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
The most beautiful castles in Italy
Our readers have voted the Castello di Venere in Erice one of Italy’s most beautiful castles. Other such castles include Castello Sforzesco di Milano, il Castello Miramare di Trieste, Castel del Monte di Andria, il Castello di Fènis ad Aosta, Castel Coira di Sluderno a Bolzano, il Castello Estense di Ferrara, Castel Dell'Ovo di Napoli, il Castello di Monteriggioni a Siena, Castel Sant'Angelo di Roma, il Castello Aragonese di Taranto, il Castello di Gradara a Pesaro-Urbino, il Castello Scaligero di Sirmione a Brescia, la Rocca Borromeo di Angera a Varese, il Castello Normanno-Svevo di Bari, il Castello di San Giorgio a Mantova, la Rocca Maggiore ad Assisi, and il Castello del Buonconsiglio di Trento.
Written by:
Sara Manelli
Translation by:
Daniel Yeatman

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