Erice - Photo © Luciana Coletti -*Elle*
Erice – Photo © Luciana Coletti -*Elle*

Erice is a historical city in the mountains close to Trapani in Sicily, Italy.

Unlike Trapani which was rebuilt after World War II bombings destroyed much of the city, Erice retains a wonderful medieval ambiance, with a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, and a number of old churches.

Erice hosts important scientific meetings, organized by the Italian astrophysicist Antonio Zichichi.

In the northeastern portion of the city there are the remains of ancient Elymian and Phoenician walls indicating different stages of settlement and occupation in antiquity.

There are two castles that remain in the city; first, Pepoli Castle, which dates from Saracen times, and Venus Castle which dates from the Norman period, on top of the ancient Temple of Venus.

The city overlooks the bay of Castellammare del Golfo on Sicily’s northern coast, and the views are spectacular.

The ancient name of Erice was Eryx.

Temple of Venus

There was a temple of Venus in Erice, where Venere Ericina was worshipped.

According to legend, it was founded by Aeneas.

It was well-known throughout the Mediterranean area in the ancient age, and an important cult was celebrated in it.

View from Erice - Photo © fazen
View from Erice – Photo © fazen

In his book On the Nature of Animals, Aelian writes that animals chosen for sacrifice would voluntarily walk up to the altar to be killed.

The Cathedral Church

From Porta Trapani, one of the entrance to the city, it gets to via Vito Carvini and so to the Cathedral Church.

In front of it, an imposing bell-tower rises with two orders of gothic mullioned windows and it is crowned by merlons.

It supposes that the bell-tower originally has been built as a vedetta tower by Federico from Aragon in 1312 and only later it has been used as a bell-tower.

The church, erected in 1314, outside has a rectangular pronaos of 1426 which precedes the main front Under four ogival arches a very beautiful gothic doorway, with broken line ornate, opens. Above it is possible to see a beautiful rose-window.

Erice Cathedral
Photo licenza Creative Commons Geo8

Inside is with three aisles, in the Gothic style, and keeps works by Domenico Gagini (1420-1492) and fragments of frescos by Catalan school of the XV century. Along the nave on the left there are two different chapels. In the art treasure there are a monstrance of 1600 based on a foot of 1400 and an astylar cross in silver lamina of 1400.

How to get there:

To get to Erice from Trapani, take the cable car (and rouse your heart), or drive up the via Vito Carvini.

Where to stay in Erice

There are hotels, B&Bs, villas and apartments available, check them out and make a reservation here.