A Historical Touch

According to legend, Erice, son of Venus and Neptune, founded a small town on top of a mountain (750 meters above sea level) more than three hundred thousand years ago. The great Thucydides (~500 B.C.) -- the founder of modern history (that is, of the recording of events in a methodic and chronological sequence as they really happened without reference to mythical causes) -- writing about events connected with the conquest of Troy (1183 B.C.), says: "After the fall of Troy some Trojans on their escape from the Achaei arrived in Sicily on boats 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 Trojan 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.

  Punic warships 


In Erice you can admire the Castle of Venus, the Cyclopean Walls (~800 B.C.) and the Gothic Cathedral (~1300 A.D.). Erice at present is a mixture of ancient and medieval architecture. Other masterpieces of ancient civilization are to be found in the neighborhood: at Motya (Phoenician), Segesta (Elymian), and Selinunte (Greek). On the Aegadian Islands, the theatre of the decisive naval battle of the first Punic War (264-241 B.C.), suggestive neolithic and Paleolithic vestiges are still visible: the grottoes of Favignana, the carvings and murals of Levanzo.

Paleolithic murals

Splendid beaches are to be found at San Vito Lo Capo, Scopello, and Cormino, and a wild and rocky coast around Monte Cofano: all at less than one hourís drive from Erice.
A slightly longer drive takes you to Palermo, where you can admire the splendid architecture of the Norman and Swabian emperors.