sits directly opposite the Egadi Islands providing them with regular
comunication links with the main island. Beside the ferry traffic,
the well-protected harbour handles large consignments of salt gathered
in the saltpans just south of the town and tuna fish processed at
the important local canning factory.
the ancient Drepanum, extends along a curving tongue of land that
ends in two horns – one occupied by the Torre di Ligny, the
other by a lazaretto (a house for the reception all the diseased
poor, especially lepers). According to legend, this was formed by
the sickle that was dropped by the goddess of agriculture Demeter
(Ceres) while she desperately sought her daughter Persephone, who
had been carried off by Hades. The inner edge of the sickle (north),
sheltered by the Tramontana reef, provides protected anchorages
and moorings for fishing-boats. Each morning, on the shore opposite
is held a picturesque fish market (pescheria). The most exciting
time to visit Trapani is undoubtedly over Easter when the old town
is thronged with multitudes of people participating in the processions
and festivities held during Holy Week. These celebrations culminate
in the Processione dei Misteri on Good Friday as 20 groups of sculpted
figures are borne round and through the streets all day and the
following night. At other times, the statues are kept in the Church
of the Purgatorio (in the town centre, in Via San Francesco); made
of wood, cloth and glue by local craftsmen, they date from between
1650 and 1720.
Via Pepoli at the far eastern end of town (in the direction of Palermo)
stands the large Carmelite institution known as the Annunziata.
The actual church adjoins the former convent which now houses the
town’s main museum, the Museo Pepoli.
dell’Annunziata – The church, although built in the
early 14C, was transformed and enlarged in the course of the 18C.
The original front elevation is ornamented with a Chiraramonte Gothic
portal, surmounted by an elaborate rose-window above.
Cappella dei Marinai (16C) along the left flank, comprises a lovely
Renaissance tufa building surmounted by a dome. Inside, it is decorated
with a fusion of styles drawn from eastern and Renaissance sources;
recurring elements include the shell which appears in the side-niches,
pendentives and apse.
Cappella della Madonna extends like a lady chapel from behind the
main altar of the church. Access is through a fine Renaissance arch
designed by the Gagini (16C) with bronze gates dating from 1591.
On the altar sits the delicate figure of the Madonna di Trapani
(14C), attributed to Nino Pisano. Off the right side of the nave,
near the door, lies the Cappella dei Pescatori (16C) enclosed with
a frescoed octagonal dome.
Pepoli – The ex-Carmelite convent beside the Santuario dell’Annunziata
provides a magnificent setting for the museum and its fine collections
of historic artefacts from prehistoric times to the 19C. The ground
floor is devoted to sculpture. The Gagini family is well represented
four graceful statues of saints: the most striking is probably the
figure of St. James the Greater by Antonello Gagini.
sumptuous polychrome marble staircase leads up to the first floor
art gallery: the most notable paintings are the Trapani polyptych
(15C), a Pietà by the Neapolitan Roberto di Oderisio (14C)
and a lovely Madonna and Child with Angels by Pastura (1478-1509).
Works from the Neapolitan School include a fine St. Bartholomew
medium most favoured by the local artists and craftsmen is the Mediterranean
red coral (pink coral comes from China). Examples displayed here
include liturgical objects and various pieces of jewellery (look
out for those made by Matteo Bavera, 17C). There is also a wonderful
series of 16 small figurative groups carved of wood and dressed
in cloth depicting The Slaughter of the Innocents (17C).
local pottery is represented by a pair of fine maiolica panels depicting
the Mattanza (the ritual killing of the tuna fish) and a view of
medieval districts of the old part of town are situated on the headland
pointing out to sea. The tip was developed by the Spanish in the
14C (Quartiere Palazzo) and remodelled in the Baroque style later.
The oldest section built in true Moorish fashion around a tight
network of interconnecting narrow streets, stretches back along
the peninsula; this would originally have been enclosed by walls.
Ciambra (della Giudecca) – This fine example of the plateresque
style (16C) has heavy rustication to emphasize the doors and windows,
as well as the front of the tower. Turn down Corso Italia.
Maria del Gesù – This church with its fine Catalan
doorway dates from the beginning of the 16C.
Fardelliana – The library displays a series of interesting
topographical engravings from the Gatto collection including views
of the Trapani area from the 17C-20C.
– This church, built by the Knights Templar in the 14C, was
badly damaged during the Second World War. The lovely rose-window
and the Gothic doorway are original. The Fountain of Saturn in front
of the church was built in 1342 to commemorate the building of an
Nova – Now named Via Garibaldi, the “New Road”
was laid in the 13C by the Aragonese. Today, it is lined with fine
18C palazzi and churches including the statue crested Palazzo Riccio
di Morana, Palazzo Milo and Badia Nova (Santa Maria del Soccorso)
the interior of which is decorated with Baroque polychrome marble
and two elaborate galleries supported by angels. Palazzo Burgio
opposite is graced with a fine 16C doorway.
Torrearsa is lined with elegant shops to the left and leads down
to the Pescheria on the right. Beyond the intersection, Via Garibaldi
continues as Via Libertà, past the splendid Palazzo Fardello
di Mokarta (the inner courtyard is enclosed within a portico and
a round arch loggia) and Palazzo Melilli with its 16C doorway.
Grande – The second main thoroughfare inserted in the 13C
(the modern Corso Vittorio Emanuele) stretches between elegant Baroque
buildings such as the Palazzo Berardo Ferro (no. 86) and the Sede
del Vescovado (Bishop’s Palace).
– The cathedral dedicated to St. Lawrence was erected in the
17C on the site of an earlier 14C building. The front elevation,
put up a century later (1740), is a marvellous expression of the
Baroque. Inside, it contains a number of paintings by Flemish artists:
a Nativity (third chapel on the right), a Crucifixion and a Deposition
(fourth chapel on the left).
del Collegio – The 17C church has an imposing Mannerist façade
ornamented with pilasters and female caryatid-figures.
Senatorio (Cavaretta) – This lovely palazzo stands dramatically
across the end of the street. Its elaborate façade rises
through two orders of columns and statues up to a pair of large
clocks. Alongside stands a 13C bell-tower.
della Preistoria e di Archeologia Marina – The Torre di Ligny,
built in 1671 as a defensive bastion on the tip of the “sickle”
houses a collection of archeological artefacts; informative panels
complete with illustrations outline the prehistoric era in Sicily.
Most of the medieval objects are recovered from the many shipwrecks
found nearby. Among the most interesting things on display are the
the terrace at the top of the tower extends a fine view over the
town and across to the Egadi Islands.
to the Egadi lslands, Pantelleria, Sardinia and Tunisia –
Trapani provides the ferry services to the Egadi Islands (see Isole
EGAD1) with daily sailings to Pantelleria by Siremar -Agenzia Mare
Viaggi 61/63 Via Staiti 0923-540515. For information on sailings
to Tunisia, contact Tirrenia Navigazione, Agenzia Salva, 48/52 Corso
specialitles – One of Trapani’s most typical dishes
is cuscus di pesce: a dish brought from North Africa, improved,
so the Sicilians claim, by the addition of locally-caught fish.
The endearing and atmospheric Taverna Paradiso restaurant at 22
Lungomare Dante Alighieri serves delicious local fare biased towards