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Trapani(TRAH-pah-ni) is a port city and the capital of Trapani province in the north-west corner of Sicily, Italy. Trapani has a lively atmosphere due to its position as the capital and its economic activities as a port. It has a rich history and many historical buildings have been preserved. Old traditions are cherished. Thanks to the presence of an international airport, the city with its marina and beaches is increasingly popular as a tourist destination. The number of cruise ships calling at the city increases every year. For the individual traveler Trapani is a great base for day trips or for traveling further afield in Sicily.
Trapani was founded by the Elymians to serve as the port of the nearby city of Erice (ancient Eryx), which overlooks it from Monte San Giuliano. The city sits on a low-lying promontory jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea.
It was originally named Drepana or Drépanon from the Greek word for "sickle", because of the curving shape of its harbour. Carthage seized control of the city in 260 BC, subsequently making it an important naval base, but ceded it to Rome in 241 BC following the Battle of the Aegates in the First Punic War.
Two ancient legends tell of mythical origins for the city. In the first legend, Trapani stemmed from the sickle which fell from the hands of the goddess Demeter 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 centre of the city.
After the Roman, Vandal, Ostrogoth, Byzantine and (from 827) Arab dominations, Trapani was conquered by the Normans of Roger I in 1077, flourishing under their dominations and having also a role in the Crusades as one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean Sea. In the 17th century, the city decayed due to revolts, plagues, and famines, but in the following century, it grew from 16,000 to 30,000 inhabitants; commerce remained of local importance, while its military position in the Kingdom of Naples remained notable.
The city was badly damaged during World War II, when it was subjected to intense Allied bombardments. It has grown greatly since the end of the war, sprawling out virtually to the foot of Monte San Giuliano. Tourism has grown in recent years due to the city's proximity to popular destinations such as Erice, Segesta, and the Egadi Islands.
Climate data for Trapani, Sicily
|Average high °C (°F)||15.0|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11.6|
|Average low °C (°F)||8.1|
|Source: Hong Kong Observatory|
Much of Trapani's economy still depends on the sea. Fishing and canning are the main local industries, with fishermen using the mattanza technique to catch tuna. Coral is also an important export, along with salt, marble, and marsala wine. The nearby coast is lined with numerous salt-pans.
The city is also an important ferry port, with links to the Egadi Islands, Pantelleria, Sardinia, and Tunisia. It also has its own airport, the Trapani-Birgi Airport.
Transportation - Get In
Vincenzo Florio Airport Trapani-Birgi (IATA: TPS), also known as Trapani Airport, is served by Ryanair, Darwin Airline, Alitalia and Air One. Darwin flies to Rome and the island of Pantelleria; Air One to Milan. Ryanair operate low cost routes direct from Malta, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Poland, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden and Finland. Four Ryanair B737-800s are based in Trapani, meaning delays are shorter than average.
As of May 2012 the following routes are served by Ryanair: Beauvais, Bologna, Brussels/Charleroi, Cagliari, Genoa, Girona, Hahn, Malta, Milan/Bergamo-Orio al Serio, Parma, Pisa, Rome-Ciampino, Treviso, Trieste, Turin, Verona.
Seasonal: Ancona, Billund, Cuneo, Eindhoven, Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden, Kraków, Leipzig/Halle, London-Luton, Maastricht, Memmingen, Perugia, Stockholm-Skavsta, Tampere, Valencia.
The airport is at Birgi, about 15 km from the center of Trapani. AST (Azienda Siciliana Trasporti) buses cost €4.90, leave every 45 minutes and take about 40 minutes [www]. The last bus leaves the airport at 11:30PM in the summer months, so the latest flights miss it. An alternative is to take 25 minutes walk to the Mozia-Birgi station and get the train to Trapani for €2.25. Sometimes Ryanair attendants propose that you buy tickets for the bus on the flight. Don't even think of it – it’s much more expensive and inconvenient than AST buses.
Frequent trains run from Palermo, with a few stopping at Segesta. Local trains also run to Marsala, Mazara del Vallo and Castelvetrano (for the ruins of Selinunte).
Frequent buses run from Palermo. Less frequently they go to Marsala, Mazara del Vallo, Castelvetrano (for the ruins of Selinunte), Sciacca, Agrigento and Segesta.
Transportation - Get Around
The old town and port is small enough to walk around. ATM (Azienda Trasporti e Mobilità) is the urban bus company, not to be confused with AST, which services the airport and the rest of Sicily. Buses pass the ferry port, and the adjacent bus station and railway station are on the edge of the city centre.
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- Busiate Trapanesi, the local pasta, can be bought in several variations and brands.
- Salted capers (capperi al sale)
- Sea salt (cristalli di sale marino) from Trapani.
- Wine (vino) from the region, such as Grillo, Inzolia en Nero d’Avola
The kitchen of Trapani has undergone many foreign influences in particular from the Arabs. Meat and pasta are often replaced by fish and couscous. A local specialty is couscous Imperiale, steamed semolina with fish stock. The pesto alla Trapanese is a raw herb sauce of tomatoes, almonds, basil and garlic. The traditional shape of the pasta is busiate, a kind of twisted macaroni.
- Calvino, Via Nunzio Nasi 77, +39 0923 21464. Excellent pizza - you'll have to come early or book ahead if you want to eat in. The locals flock here for take-aways.
- Da Salvator Via Nunzio Nasi. Fairly good, cheap food.
- Trattoria Ai Solito Posto, Via Orlandini 30. A trattoria serving traditional Trapanese cuisine. Comes highly recommended in the slow food guide to Italy. The spaghetti with sea urchins (ricci) and timballo of sardines are incredible.
Coffe & Drink
- Bar Coffee Time, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 39/41, .
- TorrePali webcafè, Via Ammiraglio Staiti, 73, .
Sights & Landmarks
- The magnificent Basilica-Sanctuary of Maria Santissima Annunziata (also called Madonna di Tràpani) originally built in 1315-1332 and rebuilt in 1760. It houses a marble statue of the Madonna of Tràpani, which might be the work of Nino Pisano
- The Baroque Palazzo della Giudecca or Casa Ciambra
- The Fontana del Tritone (Triton's Fountain)
- The Baroque Palazzo della Giudecca or Casa Ciambra
- The Cathedral (1635)
- The fine buildings on the main Corso Vittorio Emanuele
- Museo regionale Agostino Pepoli, Via Conte Pepoli, 200, , e-mail: [email protected]. M-Sa: 9AM-1:30PM 3PM-7:30PM. Su: 9AM-12:30PM. One of the main Sicilian museums. Coral art, decorative arts, gallery, painting, sculpture, jewelry and religious art including masterful cribs. €6.
- Museo di Preistoria e del Mare (Museum of Prehistory & the Sea), Torre di Ligny, Via Torre di Ligny (in the lighthouse at the end of the spit in the old town), . The museum is inside the seventeenth-century Tower of Ligny. The museum has two sections: the preserved prehistoric artifacts from the territory of Trapani (archaeological section) and objects discovered in the seabed: amphorae, anchors, ornaments of ancient Greek, Roman and Punic (sea section). The most significant piece is a helmet shell, dating from the first Punic War (241 BC). Visitors are also allowed out on the roof to enjoy the stunning views and splendid panorama of the Gulf of Trapani, overlooked by Mount Erice.
- Museo del Sale (Salt Museum), Via Chiusa Nubia, Paceco, . A fully working salt pan and mill until the 1964 floods, the Museo Ristorante "Trattoria del Sale" is a semi-working museum that informs visitors about the age old Trapani tradition of salt production and refining. Preserved equipment and exhibitions depict how the job was done before the arrival of modern machinery. Attached is a small restaurant that makes use of the salt in its recipes.
- Enjoy the bustle of the port. See the Italians shouting and gesticulating as they load the large ferries to Tunis.
Things to do
- Lido San Giuliano beaches (Trapani's main beach), Lungomare (1km north of the centre). Trapani has two main beach areas, Marausa Lido and Lido San Giuliano. San Giuliano is 20 minutes walk from the busy city centre and many of the rental apartments. It features a couple of bars, changing rooms, sun-loungers, umbrellas and lifeguard service. Parking is Pay & Display during peak months alongside the main road.
- Festilandia Parco Giochi per Bambini (Children's Adventure Playground), Via Guttuso, 10, Paceco (Siamo a solo 40m da SS115 (Via Drago di Ferro) in Via Guttuso), . Children's adventure playground for birthday parties and special events.
- The city is renowned for its Easter procession, I Misteri, when the town's guilds parade a groups of sculpted 17th century and 18th century religious statues through the streets in a procession lasting for 16 hours on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
- A day excursion by boat to the Aegadian (Egadi) Islands