Almost running, we said goodbye to Trapani and moved to Erice, located on the nearby hill. It is one of those places, which can’t be missed in any guide book. At an altitude of 750 meters, above the sea coast, there are compact medieval buildings of the 200 inhabitants town.
The history of Erice goes back to ancient times, when the hill was a place of cult of the goddess Venus. However, there is no chance to find any ancient monuments there. Today the place is as medieval as you can only imagine. Dozens of narrow streets, stone buildings, two splendid palaces and dozens of churches. All this surrounded by serious town walls.
I love the medieval buildings. Those still inhabited, alive towns surely turn me more than a dead museal ruins of ancient cities, and the great grand squares of the later years. Erice with it’s atmosphere reminds Provencal villages (Vence, Le Broc, Roussillon) or, sticking to Italy, their Tuscan cousins (San Gimignano, Montefioralle). I have to confess, that no matter how hard i would try to defend, I’m not resistant to the myth of small Mediterranean towns. Widespread through ‘Under the Tuscan Sun‘ idea of buying an old Italian villa or renting a small room for two months runs deeply in my blood. In such place nothing better than just sit on the square, enjoy your cappuccino, then replace it with wine, add some bread with olive oil, newspaper or a book and spend whole blissful day in this way.
Unless – this city is in the guidebooks.
Because Erice, a beautiful, wonderful Erice is an awful place!
Expensive. Full of kitschy souvenirs. Filled with tourists. The entrance to each church costs 2 euros here, and instead of cheap bars and broken pizzerias we can find luxurious restaurants and four-star hotels. On the streets of thousands of Italian, French and Chinese tourists. And it was still just April.
It is scary to think what’s going on there during the summer.
And that’s how my admiration for the ‘intimate’, Italian town ended. We spent there maybe around two hours, then in panic – hungry – we run away. The harmony got imbalanced somewhere. The tourism industry reached this point somewhere, where even such place like Erice, not to mention Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, forced me to delete them from the list of places, where I’d like to go back. That’s a pitty, because they are meant to be the most beautiful.
So, you know what, i do not recommend it. Better drive further into the island and have some wine in a local ‘hole’. Stray dogs will stick to you, guys at the gas station will be surprised what are you doing here, and in the bar you’ll drink the best wine ever, which vines grew on the hill above. And it will be beautiful anyway.
From Trapani to Erice we caught a car just next to the funicular railway, which drove tourists to the town. There is a bus stop and taxi rank there. We waited about 15 minutes – a very nice taxi driver dropped us. The road is extremely picturesque. We highly recommend!
You can also get to Erice by foot. I’m sure that this trekking is a great thing to do. Views are really dazzling.
From Erice to Castellamare del Golfo we went with a polish couple met in the town, who just stopped in Castellamare. We didn’t plan to go there, but we have absolutely no regrets. We started a conversation on a bench next to the castle and we asked about the lift. This is one of the best and tested ways of hitch-hiking: while being abroad Pole will help another Pole.