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Erice is a medieval town (with much earlier origins) situated in the north-western corner of Sicily, a few kilometres north-east of Trapani. The original ancient Greek town was known as Eryx.
The town is situated high on a hill above the town of Trapani, which it overlooks. From the town you get wonderful views over the sea and countryside below.
Much of the pleasure of a visit to Erice is in wandering the quaint medieval streets and alleys lined with sturdy ancient stone houses, and admiring the views - it is no surprise that Erice has long been inhabited, given its privileged location and the views out to sea are very far-reaching - the islands you can see are the Aegadian islands, with the views further reaching to Tunisia in northern Africa when the sky is clear.
There are two castles in Erice. Venus Castle sits on a headland beyond the main part of Erice. It is a 12th century norman Castle though there was once a much older Temple of Venus in this location. Legend has it that Venus bathed in milk in the well that is in the castle. There is a pretty garden by the chateau - a lovely place to pause and soak up the views.
A second castle has its origins with the Arab occupation - Pepoli castle, now a hotel.
Also in the town is the Mother church with a collection of treasures and a highly regarded painting of the Madonna and Child (artist disputed). Be sure to climb to the top of the tower for the excellent views. There are a number of other churches worth visiting and you can buy a ticket that gives entry to all of them.
The Baroque church of San Martino has some interesting carvings of souls in Purgatory. The church of San Giuliano is at the highest point of the village and has a fresco of the 'Saint Jesuits and the heart of Jesus'. The church of Saint John the Baptist also contains some interesting religious art.
At the heart of the town is the Piazza Umberto I which is a lovely square with a lively atmosphere and it's a great place to stop for a meal or refreshments. Be sure to sample one of the almond biscuits for which the town is justly famous.
There is a small archaeological museum containing some finds from the area.
Surrounding the town are thick defensive walls some of which date back to the Ancient Greek occupation of the site. On the coast far below the town there are various popular beaches to cool down after a hot day on the hilltop.
If you are visiting Erice outside the winter months it is possible to reach Erice by cable car from Trepani if you prefer not to drive. This is a great way to take advantage of the views!
Places to visit nearby
Trapani, at the bottom of the hill is a busy port built around the tuna fishing industry but it has an interesting historic centre. The interesting temples of Segesta make for an interesting visit.
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.