Nearly 2,500 feet above the boundary of the Tyrrhenian and Mediterranean Seas is the ancient town of Erice with its two castles, Torretta Pepoli and Castello di Venere (Castle of Venus).
The mountaintop town has amazing views overlooking the city of Trapani, at the northern tip of the western coast of Sicily.
A cable car joins the upper and lower parts of the beautiful town and with belvedere views from every corner of the town, it’s well worth the trip.
Take a breathtaking tour, here:
In the northeastern portion of the city there are the remains of ancient Bronze Age Elymian walls dating back to several thousand years before the time of Christ.
The name Erice comes from the Greek hero, Eryx, even though the town was originally colonized by the Phoenicians.
It was then ruled by the Greeks, the Carthaginians and then the Arabs (the Aghlebids), until the Normans conquered it in 1167 and gave it the name Monte San Giuliano, a name that stuck until 1934.
Pepoli Castle dates from Saracen times, and the Castello di Venere dates from the Norman period, built on top of the ancient Temple of Venus.
According to legend, the temple was built by the Trojan hero, Aeneas (Venus’ son), to honor his goddess mother.
Legend claims that an important cult used the temple for its sacrifices, and that the animals chosen for sacrifice would voluntarily walk up to the altar to be killed.
Today, there are no sacrifices, so you can safely take the cable car (funivia)–newly rebuilt after a forest fire–from the outskirts of Trapani to the otherworldly town of Erice.
By Jerry Finzi, Grand Voyage Italy