small town of Salemi enjoys a lovely position surrounded by the
vineyards that are so typical a feature of the Trapani region. The
older parts of Salemi bear the indelible imprint of Arab influences,
its narrow cobbled streets wind their way to the top of the hill
crowned with the inevitable castle. Salemi was inadvertently blessed
with a moment of unexpected glory when, after Garibaldi landed in
Sicily, it was declared the first capital of Italy. In 1968, the
town was badly damaged by an earthquake.
Normanno – The Norman castle was erected at the wishes of
Roger d’Altavilla on the foundations of a fortress; the castle
has two square towers and one high round one. On its right stand
the remains of the Chiesa Madre, destroyed as a result of the earthquake
of 1968. Turn down Via D’Aguirre and along past the church.
e Collegio del Gesuiti – The rather elegant façade
of the church is Baroque, complete with portal flanked with spiral
columns of tufa. The Collegio, meanwhile, accommodates the Museo
Civico of which contains various religious works of art rescued
from the churches destroyed in the earthquake in 1968: a particular
highlight is the lovely Madonna della Candelora (Candlemas) by Domenico
the last room of the museum sits an 18C chapel that replicates the
Casa Santa of Loreto.
downhill, lies the picturesque Rabato quarter complete with all
its Moorish flavour. The outside streets provide wonderful views
of the valley. Here, on 3 February each year, they distribute tiny,
very elaborate and strangely-shaped loaves of bread for the feast
day of San Biagio.
also plays its part in the celebrations of St. Josephs day (19 March),
when special large votive loaves are baked in the shape of angels,
garlands, flowers, animals and work-tools so as to represent every
aspect of daily life.
– 13km north. This little town is well defended in spirit
by its Castello Eufemio, a Byzantine fortress that was rebuilt in
the 13C and now lies in ruins. From here, a fine view stretches
over the valley and town. Every five years, during the first three
days of May, the Festival of the Holy Crucifix (Festa del Santissimo
Crocefisso) is held: an important procession takes place through
the streets with representations from all the various town “corporations”:
the Massari delegation may be distinguished by its float decorated
the hill opposite stands the Pianto Romano, a monument commemorating
the followers of Garibaldi who died in action (Calatafimi was the
scene of an important battle). From there, a marvellous view extends
back over the Calatafimi, the surrounding hills, and the sea beyond.