Marsala and Erice, Sicily : Two Unique Towns
Take a day to experience the real Italy: Marsala and Erice in Sicily. Marsala, is the western most city in Sicily. Famous throughout the world for its excellent wine that bears its name, Marsala went down in history for being the city where Garibaldi landed in Sicily for the liberation of southern Italy from the Bourbon domination. You will discover a town rich in history and charm.
The best way to fall in love with the city is to take a stroll through its charming Old Town, which starts in Porta Garibaldi and continues in XI Maggio street, from which branch out picturesque alleys and views. The heart of the city is the elegant Piazza della Repubblica, which overlooks the majestic Chiesa Madre.
The best time to visit the town is in early May when its inhabitants don red shirts to reenact one of the most important events in Italian history: The landing of Garibaldi and his brigade of Red Shirts at Marsala on May 11, 1860, which was the start of the freedom fighter’s campaign to unify Italy.
Renowned all over the world for its homonymous wine (indeed, it has been appointed Città del Vino since 1987), the wine industry has long been a fundamental part of Marsala’s economy. Marsala was first popularized in 1770 when an English trader, John Woodhouse, was forced to anchor here during a violent storm. Woodhouse headed for a tavern, downed some local wine, and realized it had commercial potential: The rest is history.
You can drink some of the amber yellow Marsala in one of the town’s quaint wine shops, or head through the hills along roads lined with prickly-pear cacti to one of the vineyards nearby. Several of these can be visited and offer guided tours and tastings.
We recommend “Donnafugata Winery”: They offer a guided tour in the cellar and tasting of 4 wines, each one representative of Donnafugata’s various productions from € 22 per person. Tours and tastings require reservations.
Did you Know?
Townspeople drink the dark, vintage Marsala, which is best sipped as a dessert wine with hard piquant cheese, fruit or pastries, and it’s also used to flavour the local cassatelle cakes made from fried ricotta and cinnamon.
For nature lovers: We recommend a visit to the Oriented Nature Reserve “Isole dello Stagnone di Marsala“, one of the first to be established in Sicily (1984).
It includes three small islands (Mozia, Santa Maria and Schola) and houses active salt pans. It’s a unique setting where you can admire windmills, migratory birds, including pink flamingos and small shiny mountains of salt.
In the afternoon, you can visit Erice (Sicily, 50 km from Marsala) the most mystic medieval town in Sicily. Located on San Giuliano mountain, up to 900 meters on the sea level, You’ll enjoy one of the most beautiful sea views of Sicily, walking on the narrow medieval streets of this Norman Town in the west of Sicily!
Once you arrive in Erice (Sicily), enjoy a walk through cobbled streets and white churches. It is a dive into history: Erice is all around the main square Umberto I, where you can find delicious bars and shops.
Erice (Sicily) is famous throughout Sicily for its dolci ericini (almond sweets); as a result, you’ll find as many pastry shops as restaurants in the historic centre.
Maria Grammatico is the most famous Sicilian sweet and pastry authority and it lies in Erice. Going up the street in the Baroque hilltop town of Erice(Sicily), one can immediately smell the ancient aromas and flavours coming alive through her pastry shop and cafe’.
Don’t miss: Castle of Venus and its Balio Gardens are a must! Balio Gardens are awesome gardens in the English style. You can find pines, cypresses and almond trees. The ticket to visit the Castle of Venus is €5.
A Curiosity: During Easter time, a solemn procession of the Passion of Jesus is held. The Calvary mount is represented by San Giuliano mountain that today it is also called Erice mount. Here, you can also climb the winding slopes to follow the crucifixion on the spot.
Our tip: If you are searching for a very different souvenir go to the Ceramic shop by Paola Amico Luisa in Via Guarrasi 18. Here ceramics are a reinterpretation of the typical Sicilian ceramics: bowls, plates and saucers and also little souvenirs, such as cute ceramic magnets.
How to reach Erice, Sicily:
–You can get the cable car from the outskirts of Trapani to the town and enjoy the tremendous views along the way in about 10 minutes. You will enjoy a stunning view: Trapani with its charming salt flats, the Egadi Islands and Erice from the above, before you set foot in this lovely medieval village. The round trip ticket is €9 and €4 for children aged 3-16 years.
-You can drive: the route is really picturesque, although parking might sometimes be difficult.
Erice Hotels – Where to Stay
Best luxury hotel: Smy La Tonnara di Bonagia Sicilia 4* , Valderice
Enjoy an unforgettable stay in a unique location
Smy La Tonnara di Bonagia Sicilia is set in an ancient Sicilian tuna fishery, dating back to the 17th century. This Hotel di Charme was brought back to its original, magical atmosphere by careful and expert restoration. The establishment covers the whole site of a traditional fishing village, looking out over the sea and immersed in gardens.
Rooms from €120/night
Best mid-range hotel: Relais Antiche Saline 4*, Torre Nubia
A timeless oasis
Offering an outdoor swimming pool, Relais Antiche Saline is set in a unique location amongst the salt mines, between Trapani and Marsala. Featuring beautiful views of the Aegadian Islands, this elegant hotel offers modern rooms. Guests can enjoy the sunset on the terrace, or relax in the hot tub.
Rooms from €105/night
Best budget hotel: Il Carmine Dimora Storica 3*, Erice
Stay in the heart of the most beautiful village in Sicily
Set 200 m from Erice Cathedral, right by the town walls, Il Carmine is a former monastery linked to the Carmelite order of monks. It offers spacious rooms with free Wi-Fi, a courtyard, chapel and TV room. Breakfast at Il Carmine is buffet style and includes local specialities with both sweet and savoury food.
Rooms from €100/night
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