Trapani, Sicily Walking Tour 4K - with CAPTIONS
Welcome to Trapani, a fishing port located on the west coast of northern Sicily. Here in Trapani, many jobs and livelihoods depend on its fishing industry as well as on tourism. The Lungomare, which stretches along the shoreline, is popular with locals running or walking in the mornings and for its bars with a view of the sea. Much of Trapani’s economy still revolves around the sea. The fishing port remains very active, with around 150 small and medium-sized fishing vessels.
The fishing port and tourist harbor are located on the opposite side of the town while most of the beaches are on this side. Tuna fishing was once a thriving business and an ancient tradition, but it is now strictly controlled. The building up ahead, built in 1874, was once the location of the local fish market but the market moved closer to the port in 1998. The historic fish market was renovated in 1998 and transformed into a hub for cultural events while a new, larger market was opened near the port. The curved colonnade of arches forming the fish market was built in 1874 and a statue of Venus rising from the sea was placed in the center of the square.
Alongside fishing, canning is also one of the most important industries in Trapani. These are remnants of defensive walls that were built between the 14th and 16th centuries whose ramparts also contained large cisterns to collect fresh water. Salt is also one of Trapani’s most important exports, with salt pans located along the coast road between Trapani and Marsala. Dubbed Sicily’s ‘white gold’, this salt from the Mediterranean sea is particularly rich in this area. The salt production process was begun by the Phoenicians some 3,000 years ago.
Along the road between Trapani and Marsala, you can visit a Salt Museum located in a 16th-century salt worker’s house. The salt pans are located in the Natural Reserve of Saline di Trapani and Paceco managed by the WWF. The area is characterized by extraordinary flora and fauna including pink flamingos. We are now going to walk across to the harbor on the opposite side of town. The ancient city of Drepana (which developed into modern-day Trapani) was founded by the Elymians, ancient tribal people living in western Sicily during the Bronze Age and Classical antiquity. Drepana was built as a port for the nearby city of Eryx (which became present-day Erice). Although the Elymians adopted various aspects of Greek culture from colonists in Sicily, such as using the Greek alphabet to write their language, they frequently clashed with Greek colonists over boundaries.
The original name for the city was Drepanon, Greek for ‘sickle’, because of the curved shape of the harbor. According to one myth, the city was born from a sickle that fell from the hands of the goddess Demeter while she was searching for her daughter Persephone, kidnapped by Hades. Another legend says the city was formed from a sickle which Kronos used to eviscerate his father Uranus, god of the sky.
Construction on this church was begun in 1688 while the facade was completed in 1712. The church hosts 20 magnificent sculptural tableaus which are paraded through the streets of Trapani during the week of religious celebrations leading up to Easter. The Elymians were friendly with Carthage but, in 260 BC, Carthage seized the city of Drepana. In 241 BC, however, they ceded it to Rome during the First Punic War. The city then variously came under the control of Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines and Arabs but, in 1077, it was conquered by the Normans under Roger I along with the rest of Sicily.
The historic center of Trapani is a thin stretch of land that sticks out into the sea. Previously we were on the north shoreline, while now we have reached the south shoreline. From this point, you can take ferries across to the Egadi Islands, the island of Pantelleria, to Cagliari in Sardinia and even to North Africa. From Trapani, cargo ships also leave with export goods like coral, marble, salt and Marsala wine.
During peak tourist season it is common to see large cruise ships moored here. In the 15th and 16th centuries, fishermen in Trapani began to fish for coral and specialized coral craftsmen created elaborate works from the pieces. Trapani became a center for the art of working coral and exported it around Europe.
Now, however, there are only a few coral craftsmen left. In recent years, the Mediterranean sea has been considered the center of the international shipping trades. Trapani finds itself in a strategic position, equidistant from the channel of Suez and from the straight of Gibraltar. The port has about 1650 piers and there are many infrastructures around the port area, like the train station and the Airport of Birgi. The port of Trapani is one of the most popular ports of call in the Mediterranean for yachts and for cruise ships. Trapani port has about 1,000,000 passengers in transit per year. During the 17th century, the city of Trapani began to decline due to plagues, famines and revolts.
In the following century, Trapani expanded again from 16,000 to 30,000 inhabitants and held an important military role for the Kingdom of Naples. During WWII, the city was heavily bombed and suffered a lot of damage. Following the end of the war, Trapani expanded rapidly with lots of new construction. Trapani is now popular with tourists who visit the city but also nearby locations like Erice, Segesta and the Egadi Islands. Here on the left you can see a few boats that belong to the Italian Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard headquarters here in Trapani are in the building across the street. Trapani is renowned for its Easter celebrations and Holy Week traditions. Between Good Friday and Holy Saturday, the city hosts the Processione dei Misteri di Trapani (the procession of the mysteries of Trapani). During this procession, the city’s guilds process through the streets carrying floats of the 20 sculptural tableaus mentioned previously.
The sculptures are made from wood, canvas and glue and date mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries. They depict scenes from the events of the Passion of Christ. This is one of the oldest continuously running religious events in Europe, taking place from at least 1612. The Procession also lasts a long time, sometimes over 24 hours, making it the longest religious festival in Italy.
The next part of the video was filmed early the next morning, on Friday, so as to see local fish market and the fisher mongers at the port. That date is a typo. It should have said June, not July. The fish market is under a large canopy in the lot to the left. We will go look at the port first though before heading back to the market. Here are some fishing vessels that have delivered their morning catch to the nearby Fish Market.
The strikingly modern design of the fish market belies a centuries-old tradition of fishing and selling fish. Most of the fish is caught locally. Specialties include lobster and tuna. Traders here are known for their characteristic shouts and calls in local dialect to attract buyers.
The best time to visit the market is early in the morning when the fishermen return with their catch and put it straight on display. Prices are reasonable and many local people chose to shop here for their fish. At sunrise, this port is a hive of activity as fishermen return with their catch and begin to flog their wares. It is a place where you can find the real heart and soul of the city, where fishing is so fundamental to many people’s lives and livelihoods. While under Arab control in the 9th century, the town and its fishing industry flourished. The Arabs enlarged the port, built hydraulic engineering works and revolutionized fishing techniques.
Under the Normans in the 11th century, the port also prospered and enjoyed duty free trade. In this period, the town also hosted consulates of the most important trading cities like Geneva, Pisa, Venice, Florence, Amalfi and Catalonia. Arab rule also left its mark in the cuisine of the city. One famous dish of Trapani is fish couscous. This dish is often prepared for feast days in special ceramic pots called "mafaradde". The town of San Vito lo Capo claims to make the best couscous in the province of Trapani.
The town of Erice, founded by the Phoenicians under the name Eryx, is located at the top of Mount Erice, which overlooks the city of Trapani. This building is the Lazzaretto, once an isolation hospital for patients with infectious diseases, built between 1831 and 1838. Up ahead is the Colombaia Castle, a medieval fort located on a little island out at sea. Its origins are ancient, however, with the first construction for military purposes dating to around 260 BC during the First Punic War. The Arabs used the fort as a lighthouse. Under the Aragonese, the fort was reconstructed with the octagonal tower you see now, which is 32 meters tall and has four floors.
The castle is now abandoned but it remains a symbol of the city. Tuna products are also common on the menu in Trapani, including tartar, smoked swordfish and bottarga (fish eggs). Tuna is a popular product because Trapani and nearby towns on the coast lie on the migratory path of the tuna which pass right through the waters of the province of Trapani. The nearby town of Favignana used to be famous for its ancient tuna fishing techniques called the “mattanza” or massacre. The ritual was also popular with tourists but under recent international treaties it was abolished.
This is the Piazza del Tramonto, or square of the sunset, named for its stunning evening panoramas. We are now walking out towards a narrow promenade that juts out of the west of the city and leads to a historic watchtower. The video is about to switch back to the afternoon of the previous day.
Again, it should say June, not July. The Ligny tower up ahead was built between 1671 and 1672 and occupies a strategic position on the city’s shoreline. The tower was built as a defensive structure when the city was under attack from the Barbary corsairs, who were Muslim pirates from North Africa.
The tower consists of a robust square base with four corner turrets that would originally have held lanterns. It was designed by Flemish architect Carlos de Grunenbergh and named after the Viceroy of Sicily, Claude Lamoral, 3rd Prince of Ligne, who commissioned its construction. The tower had guns installed on the roof until 1862. After that, it became a semaphore station, but then it was abandoned.
The tower was used in WWII as a platform for anti-aircraft guns. This walkway connecting the tower to the mainland was constructed in 1806. In 1979, the Ligny tower was restored and in 1938 it became an archeological museum.
We are now walking along the promenade on the north shoreline. The defensive structure straight ahead is the Bastione imperiale. Its construction was ordered by Charles V in 1545. The structure was enlarged under the Ligny rule to the appearance it has today.
The building ahead is named the “Casa del mutilato” and was a Fascist-era building inaugurated by Benito Mussolini himself. Until a short while ago, the building housed the emergency medical services for the historic city center. Ahead is the Church of Santa Lucia built in the 14th century by coral fishermen. This Baroque portal was added in 1783.
The building is now deconsecrated. A wooden statue of Santa Lucia, now preserved in the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi, remains an object of veneration for the city’s fishermen. While you can see the entrance from here, I had dinner in the restaurant across the street which also offers outdoor seating in the piazza. I had couscous for the very first time in my life. :)
Another important product from the province of Trapani is Marsala wine, a fortified wine with EU Protection of Designated Origin status. Marsala wine is made using the in perpetuum method, an aging process whereby older wines and blended with younger wines over specific time periods. Just up ahead on the left is a gate called the Porta Botteghelle which leads out to the water. In 1773, English trader John Woodhouse discovered the local Marsala wine and decided to export it to England Marsala is produced using white grape varietals including Grillo, Inzolia, Catarratto and Damaschino and contains about 15–20% alcohol. Marsala wines are classified into three levels – secco, semisecco and sweet – according to their color, sweetness, and the duration of aging. The structure upahead is the Bastion Conca which was constructed in the 16th century and was part of the defensive structures protecting the city of Trapani.
The Bastion Conca can be reached directly from the Piazza Mercato del Pesce by walking along the seaside Walls of Tramontana. Walking along this promenade, visitors can also reach one of Trapani’s popular beaches, Spiaggia delle Mura di Tramontana. Here just below us in the wall is an entrance gate called Porta Botteghelle, first opened in the 13th century. Another notable food product of Trapani is its variety of pesto – pesto alla trapenese – which differs from Ligurian pesto because it is made using almonds instead of the traditional pine nuts. This street runs through the heart of the city center lined with elegant 18th-century palazzi and now filled with bars and restaurants.
Here is an internal courtyard of what was once a town residence and now converted into a B&B. The Cathedral of San Lorenzo, or Trapani Cathedral, was commissioned by Alfonso the Magnanimous in 1421. The building began in the 12th century as a small chapel, but in 1421 Alfonso the Magnanimous expanded the structure with the help of patronage from wealthy families to build various chapels.
The current facade, however, dates to an 18th-century restoration by architect Giovanni Biagio Amico. He also added domes and belltowers. The choir, main altar, organ and baptismal font also date from Amico’s 1740 restoration. In the late 18th century, the interior was decorated with elegant Greek-inspired stucco work and paintings depicting stories from the Old Testament and important episodes from the Gospels. The façade is built in Baroque style and the bell tower is topped by a spire covered in majolica tiles. This building was once the College for the Gesuiti order but is now a Liceo Classical high school.
The adjacent church of the Collegio dei Gesuiti was once connected to the College. The facade was designed in rich Baroque style by Francesco Bonamici and the church was consecrated in 1705. I stopped here after this walk and had some dessert. :) Ahead is the Palazzo Senatorio, originally dating from the 15th century but amplified and renovated in 1672 to the ornate appearance it has now. In 1827, the two big clock faces were added at the top after the clock mechanism on the adjacent Torre dell’Orologio (just to the right) stopped working. This is the Porta Oscura, the oldest entry gate into the city and likely already in existence under the Carthaginians.
AVOID this Euronet brand of cash machine! The Euronet ATM machines are placed in tourist destinations all over Europe and scam customers by offering very bad exchange rates. The Euronet machines will tell you the value of your withdrawal in your own home currency and then also charge you a large fee for this. At a regular local ATM machine, if you withdraw €400, you might be charged a international transaction fee of say €3, but you will be given a fair exchange rate. At the Euronet machines, you will get a international transaction fee, another huge fee for telling your the amount in your home currency and a terrible exchange rate! Down Via Delle Arti you can find a historic pasticceria called Colicchia which is flamous for its granita, sweet ice-based drinks (a slushy).
The neo-Gothic building on the left, dating from 1908, is a branch of the Banco di Sicilia, one of the oldest lending banks in Italy. The Baroque church of Badia Nuova began as one of the oldest churches in the city, first constructed in 536. It was restructured in 1461 and again in 1640. The interior is filled with polychromatic marble decoration. This is the Salita di San Domenico that leads up to several interesting churches including the Church of San Domenico, one of the oldest in Trapani with construction beginning in 1289. The church of Santa Maria dell’Itria, often called Santa Rita, was constructed in 1621 with a facade dating from 1745. Many relics are preserved inside the church including the body of San Severo Martire and San Celestino Martire.
The building on the right is a Post Office, a modernist construction designed between 1924 and 1927 by Francesco La Grassa We finish our tour back on the north shoreline Lungomare. Thanks for watching! Please LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to the channel. Grazie!