Visiting Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily is like a trip through a time machine. When traveling to Italy, try to put this destination on your itinerary if possible.
The ancient Greeks and Romans had their own mythological versions of the foundation of this city (whose name comes from the Greek “Drepanon,” or “sickle”).
In the first legend, Trapani stemmed from the sickle which fell from the hands of the goddess Demetra (Demeter in English) while she was seeking for her daughter Persephone, who had been kidnapped by Hades.
The second myth features Saturn, who eviscerated his father Uranus, god of the sky, with a sickle which, falling into the sea, created the city. In ancient times, Saturn was the god-protector of Trapani. Today, Saturn’s statue stands in a piazza in the center of the city.
What is sure is that the town’s foundation dates all the way back to 1250 B.C. when it was settled by an ancient population called the “Elimi.”
Then in the 9th century B.C., the Phoenicians arrived from Carthage and lived side by side with the Elimi in peace–and there they all remained, even while central and eastern Sicily was occupied by the Greeks.
It’s during the Punic Wars that Trapani encounters its first troubles, as the Romans were merciless with the allies of Carthage. The decadence came slowly to an end during the domination of the Vandals, the Byzantines, the Arabs, and above all, the Normans, who brought the city to prosperity around 1100 A.D.
Trapani was a key point during the Crusades, and then eventually passed to the Aragons. After the wars, the town reestablished its prosperity by doing what it knew best: extracting salt and fishing tuna.
Monte Erice is a cable car ride from the city and aside from the cobbled streets and medieval castle; there are views of Tunisia and Africa from up there on clear days.
Trapani’s saline have been in place since first constructed by the Phoenicians. At certain points throughout its history, the town owed its very survival to this special type of business. In an area as big as 500 sq. miles, the old windmills still stand, which are used to both grind the salt, and to pump the sea water from one tank to another.
Visiting Trapani in the Modern Day
Today, the mark “Sale Marino di Trapani” has been awarded with the seal “I.G.P.,” meaning that nowhere else in the world is there a salt produced with these very prized and specific characteristics.
Salt was prized by the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Egyptians. Salt became an important article of trade and was transported by boat across the Mediterranean Sea, along specially built salt roads, and across the Sahara in camel caravans. The scarcity and universal need for salt has led nations to go to war over salt and use it to raise tax revenues. Salt is also used in religious ceremonies and has other cultural significance.
Tourism Sites in the Province of Trapani, Sicily
Trapani is a province located in the westernmost part of the autonomous island region of Sicily in Italy. The province includes several islands off the coast of Trapani, including the Egadi Islands.
This region has a long history and has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. It was an important strategic location during World War II and was the site of the Battle of Trapani.
The province is now a popular tourist destination for its beaches, clear waters, and diving sites. It is also home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Valle dei Templi archaeological site. Here are some of the things you can see and do while you are vacationing in Trapani:
- The Fenicotteri Pink Flamingos – These beautiful birds can be seen in the Stagnone Nature Reserve.
- The ancient Greek ruins of Selinunte – These ruins are some of the most well-preserved in all of Sicily.
- The medieval town of Erice – This town is located atop a mountain and is full of historical sites and beautiful views.
- The salt pans of Trapani – These pans are used to produce sea salt and are a major industry in the province.
- The vineyards of Marsala – The town of Marsala is home to some of the best vineyards in Sicily.
Whether you are looking for a beach vacation, a historical tour, or just a place to relax, Trapani is the perfect place for your next trip. And no matter if you are looking to travel in luxury or on a budget, there are options for everyone!