Visit Castellammare del Golfo
Sicily Visitor Comment: Castellamare-del-Golfo is a nice little harbour town but that could do with a little bit of a facelift. Its setting is very pretty and the coast around the San Vito lo Capo peninsula is some of the prettiest in Sicily.
Castellamare-del-Golfo is on a pretty stretch of the Sicilian coast with beaches in the immediate vicinity and lovely craggy cliffs and bays as you head east or west. The town itself is on a small bay with a deep inlet and a small harbour spreading around the bay.
A promontory takes the town out towards a castle at the edge of the bay. The harbour was once the location of an important tuna fishing industry but this is now finished though fishing remains important to the town and the fishing boats set out each morning to fish for the day's catch.
A walk along the edge of the harbour, called the Calla Marina, leads to a number of bars and restaurants and is particularly pleasant in the evening when the road is closed to traffic.
There is a beach behind the harbour but there are much nicer beaches just along the coast and these can be reached by car or by taking the local bus.
The streets of the old town are pleasant to wander and various churches are dotted around with some artworks worth admiring. The main church is the Mother Church on Matrice Square and houses some 18th century frescoes by Giuseppe Tresca, an important Sicilian artist.
The main street is a nice pedestrian street and has a few bars and restaurants and is a nice spot to sit outside with a coffee and a beer and enjoy both the pretty street and the hilly scenery at the top of the street.
The castle of Castellamare del Golfo is home to the Museum of the Mediterranean and has an archaeology section and a section dedicated to farming tools and techniques and the ancient lifestyle. There is also a section about the tuna fishing industry that was once so important to the town.
There is also an exhibition devoted to a festival that takes place every year. The festival of the Madonna del Soccorosa is a re-enactment of a battle which took place in the 18th century. According to local legend a Royal Navy ship chased a Spanish boat into the harbour. The ship was fired upon but had much superior fire power and soon the locals fled up the mountain. However when a vision of the Madonna appeared and a flock of angels swept down the hill the Navy ship fled the scene.
Be sure to go to the Belvedere a little way up the mountains behind Castellammare del Golfo in order to see the fabulous views of the town and the bay stretched out below. It is well worth the hike uphill! Alternatively you can drive to the belvedere.
Castellammare del Golfo was the birthplace of quite a number of infamous American Mafia gangsters including Joseph Bonanno, Sebastiano DiGaetano, Salvatore Maranzano and others. One of the brutal battles between different Mafia families in the 1930s was called the Castellamarese war!
Where to visit near to Castellammare del Golfo?
Whilst Castellammare has a beach, Spaiggia Plaja, it is not the best and there are much nicer ones a short drive away. Guidaloca beach to the west is one of the most popular beaches in the area and is easy to drive to. It is a pebble beach rather than a sandy beach. Spaggia a Balestrate beach is a nice sandy beach to the east of Castellammare.
Take a boat trip to the sea caves west of Castellammare. The Grotta di Santa Margherita is the main one and inside are frescoes of religious images which are thought to date back to the early Christian period.
This part of Sicily has a network of walking trails called the 'Agro Ericino Trails Network' with 110 kilometers of trails in the Castellammare del Golfo, San Vito Lo Capo, Erice area.
The Zingaro Natural Reserve is very popular with walkers and also has various pretty coves with small beaches though they do become a little crowded in the summer.
The ancient site of Segeste is nearby with its imposing Segeste Temple.
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.