According to legend, Erice, son of Venus and Neptune, founded a small town on top of a mountain (750 metres above sea level) more than three thousand years ago. The founder of modern history-i.e. the recording of events in a methodic and chronological sequence as they really happened without reference to mythical causes -the great Thucydides (~500 B.C.), writing about events connected with the conquest of Troy (1183 B.C.) said: "After the fall of Troy some Trojans on their escape from the Achaei on the sea towards the West arrived in Sicily by boat and as they settled near the border with the Sicanians all together they were named Elymi: their towns were Segesta and Erice". This inspired Virgil to describe the arrival of the Troyan royal family in Erice and the burial of Anchise, by his son Enea, on the coast below Erice. Homer (~1000 B.C.), Theocritus (~300 B.C.), Polybius (~200 B.C.), Virgil (~50 B.C.), Horace (~20 B.C.), and others have celebrated this magnificent spot in Sicily in their poems. For seven centuries (XIII-XIX) the town of Erice was under the leadership of a local oligarchy, whose wisdom assured a long period of cultural development and economic prosperity which in turn gave rise to the many churches, monasteries and private palaces which you see today. In Erice you can admire the Castle of Venus, the Cyclopean Walls (~800 B.C.) and the Gothic Cathedral (~1300 A.D.). Erice is at present a mixture of ancient and medieval architecture. Other masterpieces of ancient civilization are to be found in the neighbourhood: at Motya (Phoenician), Segesta (Elymian), and Selinunte (Greek). On the Aegadian Islands –theatre of the decisive naval battle of the first Punic War (264-241B.C.) - presumed neolithic and paleolithic vestiges are still visible: the grottoes of Favignana, the carvings and murals of Levanzo. Splendid beaches are to be found at San Vito Lo Capo, Scopello, and Comino, and a wild and rocky coast around Monte Cofano: all at less than one hour's drive from Erice.
Look at this website for further information: http://pti.regione.sicilia.it/portal/page/portal/SIT_PORTALE/SIT_EnglishVersion
As Erice is situated on top of a mountain at an altitude of 750 metres, it is much cooler than at sea level. Therefore, we would advise you to bring some warm clothing, and a windbreaker or anorak; the weather is rather unpredictable in Erice and the temperature can suddenly change.
How To Reach Erice
There are many flights from Rome to Palermo, a few from Milan apart from the international connections. Please note that there are a number of national flights arriving also at Trapani airport.
On the initial and final day, transfers are provided by the Ettore Majorana Centre. At Arrivals, look for the meeting-point poster "Ettore Majorana Centre".
Go to the tourist office in the Arrivals area if you have any problems. Low-cost flights (Ryanair) land in Trapani which is the nearest airport.
Via Milan-Rome, you can reach Trapani directly. From Trapani, to reach Erice comfortably, a taxi is suggested. Confirm the price before taking the taxi.
You can view the train schedule here. Remember to use Trapani as your destination
There are two possibilities:
- Drive along the A1 - Autostrada del Sole via Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome-Naples-Villa San Giovanni (Reggio Calabria); then take a ferry from Villa San Giovanni to Messina and drive to Erice (350 km from Messina).
- Take the ferry either from Genoa or Naples to Palermo, and then drive on to Erice (100 km from Palermo). Places on the ferry must be booked in advance.