TRAPANI, THE CORAL CITY

Trapani is situated on a piece of land that stretches out towards the Mediterranean and is on the extreme easterly point of Sicily. Since ancient times the Sicilian city is well known for the processing of precious materials such as coral, as well as for being an area bursting with natural beauty.

History

Founded by the ancient Elymians, today’s city is the capital of the province and a tourist destination for its combination of attractions. During the course of the centuries it was subject to Greek rule, during which the Phoenicians as of the eighth century B.C. knew it with the Drepanon name “falce”, and under whom it became an important port for the control of the various Mediterranean commercial ports, and was also governed by the Romans and the Byzantines. These last two dominations represent the worst period of the city’s history, whilst the first sign of an economic and urban recovery didn’t arrive until the Arabian domination in the first half of the ninth century. Mirroring the whole island’s history, the city was revived under the Normans who conquered it in 1077 and saw it flourish in numerous ways, including commercially with the development of goldsmith and coral processing industries as well a from urban and demographic points of view. Under the rule of Juan II of Aragon Trapani was re-organised, whilst under Carlo V it witnessed a decisive increase in its commercial and craft activities.

The city and its monuments

Walking through the city’s streets you are able to admire the eighteenth century buildings, large churches, and coral cutter workshops. These workshops represent a revival of this ancient art that once seemed forgotten and that had made this city famous since the second half of the 1500’s for the precious works of art created. There are many beautiful testaments to the city’s various eras: Palazzo Alessandro Di Ferro; Palazzo delle Poste (Post Office), which is ornately decorated, the city walls, the Bastione Conca, the Bastione Imperiale and the Bastione Impossibile. Amongst the religious monuments to be visited there is the Purgatorio church, where paintings by famous artists are kept, the cathedral of San Lorenzo, inside of which there is painting of the Crucifixion attributed to the Flemish painter Van Dyck, the church and board of the Jesuits in the prestigious Rua Grande. In addition there is also the Palazzo Fardella di Mokarta, Palazzo Cavarretta, head of the Senate of Trapani, the Torre di Ligny, part of the lookout and defence system against naval attacks, and Palazzo Ciambra, commonly called “la Giudecca” because it is located in the old Jewish quarter.

The geographical area

In the province of Trapani there is the Egadi archipelago. The island of Favignana is the largest and is characterised by the crystal clear sea, striking bays and its butterfly shape and is ideal for those who want to spend a quiet holiday away from it all, in an unspoilt, green, protected environment. The island of Levanzo is the smallest and has the Grotta del Genovese e Segesta, an archaeological area on Mount Barbaro, with its Temple, Teatro Ellenistico (Greek Theatre), and the remains of a Sanctuary and an ancient city. Marsala, whose name derives from the Arabic word Marsa Alì, was used as a refuge from the Carthaginians who gave it the name Lilibeo, which it maintained up until the Arabian era. It was also subject to Roman rule and became an important port for traffic towards Africa until it fell into the hands of the Arabs. Since the end of the 1700’s, the name Marsala has been synonymous with its wine, which is famous worldwide. Pantelleria with its volcanic origins and characteristic bush vegetation, although frequently replaced by agricultural cultivations and especially vineyards, is Sicily’s largest island and is well equipped to cater for the most varied of tourist requirements.

 

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