Historical and Cultural Itinerary
Starting from the small village of Scopello, developed around an old Baglio, it is possible to set out on a wide-ranging journey,visiting the old tonnare, with its magnificent view on the cliffs, and thn having a look at the pottery workshops. The coast is characterized by the white shingly beach of Baia di Guidaloca, which is part of the amphitheatre-shaped Gulf of Castellammare. the gulf, which stretches from Capo San Vito to Capo Rama, hosts the town bearing the same name. The town’s main activities are closely related to the location and development of the port, which lies in the place of the old emporium of Segesta.
CASTELLAMMARE DEL GOLFO
Castellammare del Golfo came into being a san “emporium” of the nearby town of Segesta, thet i sto say, it is the place where the Elimi an ancient and mysterious population, traded with foreign ships. So the history of the little town on the gul is identified at least until 827 a.C., when it became an Arab place with that od Segesta, whose vicissitudes it shared. Always clashing with the Greeks of nearby Selinunte against whom bloody battles were often fought, the important Elimo centre, one of the most important fortified treding stations in the northern basin of Sicily. So it was the Arabs that made the place, renamed “Al Madarig”, “the steps”, perhaps on account of a rough and very steep street into a stronghold, made impregnable by the building of a fortress, and also into an important commercial centre, with the building of the tuna station and the port. Nowadays Castellammare, though no longer its historic role,i san important trading town and through its barbour there pass major export of agricultural products. Moreover, thanks to a priceless heritage, that of the extraordinary natural beauty of its coast and its immediate hinterland, Castellammare del Golfo has rightly become an important mecca for tourists. Set in the very fine gulf of Castellammare, at the feet of a high, rugged mountain rich in luxuriant vegetation, the town slopes gently down towards the sea as far as the little peninsula on which there stands the castle, between two magnificent beaches of soft sand. The whole place can be seen, in one, extraordinary glimpse, from the “belvedere”, placed high up, on the state highway, along which one glides down round steep bends towards the town. Continuing along the state highway, you come to Scopello.
The ancient seaside town of Scopello is believed to stand on the site of the ancient town of Cetaria, which got this name because of the exceptional abundance of tuna fish in its sea. The Arabs called that place “ Iscubul”, and it was they who, after the destruction of Cetaria, restructured the tuna station. Now the complex is no longer working, the terrible activity of tuna fishing is no longer lucrative, but everything is still in working order, that i sto say the stores, the farms, the boats and nets: they are silent witnesses to an ancient maritime civilisation which has now almost disappeared in the whole of Sicily. Nowadays the complex of the Scopello tuna station is famous for its exceptionally clear water, making it possible to observe the sea bottom, and for its stacks. Scopello needles rise, jagged and covered with vegetation, opposite the Scopello tuna station, in a fantastic inlet batte by an unusually trasparent area. The natural environment of Scopello and more in general of the whole gulf make the whole landscape highly spectacular. It is absolutely one of the finest stretches of Sicilian coast and also includes the truly extraordinary Zingaro park, th happy natural paradise, which ha miraculously survided, intact, in its exceptional, primitive beauty.
A “string f pearls” seven kilometres long. This is the sea of the Zingaro, a few kilometres of unique coastal landscape, splendid and prodigal with continual surprises ad the visitor slowly avances along the principal pathway, between cushioned euphorbia and sumptuous palms. The first nature reserve set up in Silily, an exceptionally interesting environment for its flora, Zingaro is perhaps even more interesting as regards fauna, over forty species of birds nest and reproduce there, not to be found in other places on the Island. The reserve area i salso of major archaeological interest since in the grandiose Uzzo Grotto there was one of the first prehistoric settlements in Sicily. Perfectly organised for public enjoyment, the reserve can only be visited on foot, as there are no motor roads inside it. Among the most representative itineraries are: one which goes entirely along the coast, from the south-east entrance (Scopello side) to the north entrance (San Vito side); one which goes halfway along the route of the previous one and then into one of the upper zones of Zingaro and back down to the sea; an one which is rather harder, practically a complete circuit, going both along the whole coastal stretch and over the mountainous backbone of the reserve.
The salt road
A ray of sun escare from the sky and captured by the salti t turns the white grains into little precious stones. The salt pans, the box in which this treasure is kept, are just outside Trapani and reach Marsale, coasting along the windmills and the tiny archipelago.
Trapani, the ancient Drepanon, just out into the Mediterranean sea in the shape of a sickle. The Ligny Tower stands on its estreme tip and now houses the Museum of Prehistory. The best way to get to know Trapani is looking at the ties this town has always had with the sea. Nowadays fishing provides a means of support, but in the past the Mediterranean was a source of wealth because of the coral industry. Again, the sea provides the town with another feature, which characterizes the coast as far as Marsala: the Salt-pans. Over the centuries the salt-pans and the salt industry have created a unique environment of great cultural, anthropological and economic relevance in a region where the land mergers into the sea. This route is called la Via del Sale (the salt road) and is remarkable for its numerous mills,five of which have recently been renovated, for the heaps of salt covered with terracotta tiles and for the Museum of Salt at Nubia, not far from Paceco. This area is part of two natural reserve, the Saline di Trapani e Paceco and the Stagnone di Marsala. In the shallow and warm water of the Stagnone it’s easy to sight a great variety of water birds.
An archaeological miracle
Here lies the islet of Mozia, forty hectares of historic land surrounded by the sea. Together with Isola Longa, Santa Maria and Isola della Schola it forms a small archipelago in the Stagnone, the largest laggon in Sicily. One the most important Phoenician and Cartheginian settlement in the Mediterranean, Mozia became a strategic site owing to its vicinity to powerful Carthage. Its foundation dates back to the 8th century BC and its history was revealed thenks to Giuseppe Whitaker. Since the many objects of Phoenician origin have been brought to light and are now kept at the museum of Villa Whitaker, in the Island. The include, one of the most remarkable archaeological finds of the last few years, the Giovinetto di Mozia, a statue of a young boy dated to the 5th century BC. The destruction of Mozia by the Syracusan tyrant Dionysus the Elder in 379 BC forced the inhabitants to move ad far as Capo Boeo, where they fonde Lilybaeum, the modern Marsala.
The punic navale stronghold
Marsala, is rich in Carthaginian, Roman, Norman, Arab ancd Spanish monuments, which bear fitness to the long and interesting history of the town, like fori stance the Carthaginian necropolis, the Roman Villa with its wonderful mosaics, the 5th-century Christian baptistery and the remains of the city walls built under Roger I. During a stay in Marsala one cannot help visiting the cathedral, , the archaeological Museum of Baglio Anselmi, which contains a remarkable example of marine archaeology, a Carthaginian ship dating back to the 2nd century BC, the plants where the world-famous Marsala wine is made, and finally, the bagli.
Parallel to state highway, leads to Marsala, one at once finds oneself immersed in a landscape which is grandiose and apparently inhospitable. The nature shows itself in all its splendour, revealing major richness: the salt-plan look like an immense checherboard on which the sinking sun confers wonderful colours.
HISTORY, ARCHAEOLOGY AND MYTH
The temple of the goddess of love
On the top of Mount San Giuliano, among the silent clouds lies the town of Erice, overlooking Trapani from a superb scenic location. On the ruons of the temple stands the Castello di Venere. Next to there are the Giardini del Balio overlooked by medieval towers. The town is surrounded by cyclopean walls of Elymian origin, at whose corners stand the Norman castle, the Spanish quarter and the cathedral, which has manteined its original 12th-century Gothic style in the bell tower and the delicate mullioned windows. The town planning of Erice’s oldest part is primaruly medieval in character, with little squares and narrow winding alleys opening onto lovely courtyards full of flowers.
In Erice there are more than 60 churches including those of San Martino, San Cataldo, San Giuliano and San Giovanni Battista, which every summer resound with medieval music.
The mystery of Elymians
Following the slope of Mount Erice and tracks of the ancient Elymian people arrives in Segesta, surrounded by a range of gently sloping hills which enclose two precious jewels, the Temple and the Theatre. The 5th-century Sicilian Doric temple stands imposingly on a hillock in the middle of a picturesque valley. The Greek theatre, carved in the rock and dated to the 2nd century BC, overlooks the valley from the top of Mount Barbaro. In the spectacular natural view provided by the steep slope over the valley of Segesta every two years theathical performances are staged during the festival “Scena millenaria per i classici delmondo, evoking an atmosphere o folder times”. A large shrine dating back to the 4th-5th century BC provides the crowning touch to the archaeological park of Segesta, but more marvels are yet to be discovered.
Segesta’s history is inextricably intertwined with that of its arch-rival Selinunte, the ancient Selinus, another great town of the past.
Founded by the Greeks in the second half of the 7th century BC, Selinunte iso ne of the most relevant archaeological parks in the Mediterranean area.
The “C” temple is one of the oldest example of Doric Style and dates back to the first half of the 6th century BC, but the most enchanting of all remains is the “E” temple. The old artistic tradition of Selinunte is attested by the original little statue of the Ephebus of Selinus.
About ten kilometres west of Selinunte the builders of the past found the best stone to create their grandiose works. From the quarries of Cusa a kind of limestone called calcarenite was dug out and used to build the huge capitals and the imposing columns of Selinunte’s temples.
A tapestry of colors
SAN VITO LO CAPO
The promontoriy of San Vito lo Capo shares its name with the beach and the fishing village which developed around on old Saracen fortress, later turned into a shrine dedicated to San Vito. Tourism is the chief activity of this region. The climate, the beach, the sea, the lanes full of flowers, the intense scents and the breathtaking views provide the visitor with unforgettable memories. This is where at the ent September on the streets od San Vito lo Capo the Couscous Fest is held.
THE EGADI ISLANDS
Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo, are just off the the coast of Trapani, very close at hand. They are easily seen from the town, the salt-pans at Nubia, the isle of Mozia, the top of Erice as well as from Marsala and all the coast from Trapani to Monte Cofano.
Mount Santa Caterina dominates the Island of Favignana, where every year in May the old tradition of tuna fishing is rivive. The visitor is impressed by the Majestic Tonnara Florio, a fine example of old industrial building, an by the elegance and gentleness of the art nouveau Palazzo Florio.
The tourist is fascinated by the crystalclear sea; enticed by the silence of the bays Cala Rossa, Cala Azzurra, Grotta Perciata and Cala Rotonda, and amazed by the colours of the countryside.
Off the northern coast of Favignana lies the Island of Levanzo, famous for its numerous archaeological objects found in the deep sea. This Island has been inhabited since very ancient times, as is shown by the neolithical paintings of 5000 years ago found in the Genovese Grotto.
The magic triangle of the Egadi Islands is completed by Marettimo, the remotest and wildest of the three, with its marvellous caves and mountainous paths. It is a small island, which gives the visitors the opportunità of living in simbiosi with nature.
The big butterfly
The Greek called the Island Aegusa but the island was named Favignana after the wind Favonio during the Middle Ages. It looks like a big butterfly alighting peacefully on the Mediterraneo
Those who come to Levanzo, must leave behind the uproars of the world, the hustle of everyday life, the noises of the towns. Here life flows peacefully and slow in a space-temporal dimension that has nothing in common with the bustle of the dry land.
The sacred hiera
The sacred Island, so called by the greek. And today in Marettimo you can actually feel that ancient sacred atmosphere along the small silent streets of the nice town, scanning the faces of the islanders who devote their lives to the sea and who expert the answers to their questions to come from the sea as well.