Sopping Wet in Medieval Erice

Set atop a mountain overlooking Trapani, in Sicily’s northwestern corner, the town of Erice has a history rooted in mythology. We spent a few hours getting lost on the uneven stone roads and tiny alleys which curve senselessly about the town, and felt as though we’d stepped back in time. If only the weather had played along.

Erice Castle towers in Sicily

The best way to get from Trapani to Erice is with a cable car. It runs constantly and takes just fifteen minutes, providing an incredible panoramic view as you go. But service is suspended when it’s windy. And, of course, it was windy on the late November day we chose for our day trip. Dejectedly, we bought tickets for the bus, which takes over an hour to reach the top of the mountain.

Once we arrived in Erice, though, we cheered up. Known as Eryx to the Greeks, it has a history stretching back to the Phoenicians. For centuries, it was one of Sicily’s most important cities until being destroyed during the Punic Wars. According to legend, a giant statue of Aphrodite crowned the mountain, visible to passing sailors as a welcome beacon.

We wandered through the streets without a plan, and soon became lost. But small, circular Erice is the kind of place in which it’s a pleasure to lose your orientation. Every couple minutes, we’d encounter another ancient church, tower or palace and eventually we emerged at Pepoli Castle. Built during Arabic times on the side of a cliff overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, the castle now acts as a hotel.

After we had walked back to the center of town, it began to rain, heavily and suddenly. We were within meters of a restaurant and, laughing at our luck, ran into Ulysses Pizzeria. But the laughter stopped upon realizing that the entire place had been reserved for a group of screaming, french-fry-throwing teenagers on a school excursion. The waiters immediately shooed us out, back into the rain, to get soaked.

Erice Town Sicily

Suddenly, our disoriented wandering about the streets wasn’t so charming or pleasant. We hurried as fast as the slick, stony streets would allow, and darted into the first bar we could find. There, we scarfed down microwaved lasagna at €7 a slice and chugged wine served straight from the tetra-pak. When the rain let up, we left, not so wet but perhaps more angry.

During the summer, Erice is packed to the gills with tourists, and with good reason. With sunny weather, the town must be unbelievable. Even though we had to fight through the rain, missed the cable car, and didn’t have enough time to truly settle down into Erice’s slower rhythm, we enjoyed ourselves quite a bit.

Location on our Sicily Map

Erice Hill
Path To Erice
Green Sicily
Salt Fields Trapani
Church Erice
Bergdorf Sizilien
Erice Tower
Erice Maria
Me And MY Cats
Old Stairs Sicily
Old Streets Sicily
Science Town Sicily
Streets Erice
Souvenirs Sicily
Sicilian Artichoke
Visit Erice
Sicilian Dogs
Erice Villa
Erice Ceramics
Light in the Castle
Erice Lasagne
Sicily Fog
Erice Fog

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. jan

    Ah, the joys of travel.  It looks like an interesting place.  I like the old man with the cats. The lasagne didn’t look too bad!

  2. Isabella Davis

    wow what an amazing place filled with history and stunning beauty,as always fellows thanks for taking us along on your awesome journey!Happy Holidays,Isabella

  3. Stephanie

    Beautiful!  I often frequent your blog, especially reading up on Oviedo (I’m moving to Oviedo in three weeks for a six-month stay).  Somehow Trapani and Erice popped up, and I couldn’t be more pleased!  I am a genealogy nerd and am really quite attached to my maternal family, which is rooted in Salemi, right next door to Erice and in the Trapani province.  I have been daydreaming of taking a weekend trip over while I’m in Oviedo, and I really hope I can, especially now that I’ve read this blog.  Beautiful photos!

  4. Vicky

    These pictures remind me of someone very special.  She spoke of Sicily often, and now I see the beauty of it.  Thank you for sharing.

  5. CarryAnne

    We visited Erice on Good Friday, 18 April 2014. It was glorious! Erice is unlike any of the other wonderful sites in Sicily. Everything is so totally medieval… until you scratch the surface and realize the impressive wall encircling this mountain top city was built >1k BC by the Elysians and Phoenicians. I am so glad we visited! It’s right up there with the Palatine Chapel in Palermo and the Greco-Roman ruins in Taormina as a must see. 

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