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What to see in Western Sicily

Western Sicily boasts an incredible wealth of beautiful landscapes and monuments. It’s a place where pristine natural environments are constantly intertwined with pieces of history. Located in Marsala, right in the heart of this unique land, the Baglio Oneto dei Principi di San Lorenzo luxury resort is the ideal starting point for exploring a wide range of Sicily’s attractions.

Let’s explore what to see in Western Sicily, with an itinerary that tests the boundaries between legend and reality.

 

Marsala, Trapani and Erice

Our Sicilian road trip begins with three popular destinations along the western coast. Marsala is a small, picturesque town known worldwide for its fortified wine, which has been named after the town itself. Enclosed within the ancient gates dating back to the period of Spanish dominion, the historic center is a pleasant place to take a leisurely stroll, stopping to admire the various attractions. Be sure to visit the Cathedral of Marsala and the Lilybeo archaeological site, which features the remains of an ancient Punic town, complete with a splendidly preserved 35 meter Punic ship, on display at the Baglio Anselmi Archaeological Museum.

Another one of Western Sicily’s attractions is the Stagnone Nature Reserve, near Marsala, with its picturesque salt pans. Here visitors can admire some of Sicily’s oldest saltworks, interspersed with windmills, mounds of salt and enormous pools. The shades light reflecting off the brilliant white of the salt crystals give this place a dreamlike atmosphere.

The provincial capital, Trapani, has a symbiotic relationship with the sea: the city extends along a narrow strip of the coastline, surrounded by water on both sides. Consequently, while exploring Trapani visitors will find themselves with a view of the sea in practically every direction they turn! The historic center can be easily explored on foot, and features numerous Baroque monuments and beautiful churches, including the Hundred Churches. Be sure to take a stroll along the Walls of Tramontana, with their spectacular view of the village of Erice and the Egadi islands. One of Trapani’s most iconic buildings is Ligny Tower, which stands perched at the end of the coast.

Our tour of Western Sicily continues with the town of Erice, where visitors will find themselves taking a journey back in time. Immediately upon passing through the village’s stone gates, you’ll find yourself surrounded by cobblestone alleyways, austere buildings, and crenellated towers from the middle ages. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the historic center, taking in all the attractions. Be sure to visit the Cathedral, Piazza Umberto I, which overlooks the Town Hall, the Norman Castle of Venus, the Balio Gardens, and the Spanish Quarter. All of these attractions are absolute must see in Western Sicily.

 

Selinunte, Segesta and Mazara del Vallo

The ancient town of Selinunte, a Greek colony founded in 650 BC, is one of Western Sicily’s must-see attractions, and is home to Europe’s largest archaeological park, covering an area of over 1700 square kilometers. We recommend exploring the site at a leisurely pace, focusing on the numerous areas of historical and artistic interest, namely the Acropolis, which stands perched atop a plateau overlooking the sea, the entirely reconstructed Temple of Era, and the Sanctuary of Malophoros, dedicated to the goddess Demeter.

Not far from Selinunte, in the Calatafimi district between the cities of Trapani and Palermo, is Western Sicily’s other major archaeological attraction: Segesta. Visitors can park their cars just outside the entrance to the park, and continue the tour on foot. The city of Segesta was founded in the 9th century BC, and preserves monumental remnants of ancient Greek civilization in Sicily, including a 6-column Temple and a Theater dating back to the 3rd century BC, which stand proudly at the center of the site.

The small and seductive town of Mazara del Vallo is one of the most surprising destinations on our tour of Western Sicily. Its historic center, which is small enough to be explored in just half a day, contains various unusual monuments and attractions. In fact, this Sicilian town is a place where European, Islamic and North African civilizations came together and coexisted, side by side, each leaving behind clear evidence of its presence. From the styles, to the colors and culinary traditions, everything in Mazara del Vallo celebrates the integration of these three vastly different cultural traditions. In the historic center, the baroque style Church of San Francesco stands adjacent to the various examples of Arab architecture in the Tunisian district (the Casbah) and the Norman arch in Mokarta square, the only remaining part of a medieval castle razed to the ground during the nineteenth century.

 

Agrigento: The Turkish Steps and the Valley of the Temples

After taking in all the ancient culture and history, what more is there to see in Western Sicily if not breathtaking views of the seaside? To do this, we make our way to Porto Empedocle, Agrigento’s seaside locale, where we find Scala dei Turchi, named to commemorate the raids suffered at the hands of Saracen pirates. Scala dei Turchi consists of a rocky wall made up of whitish marl limestone, which overlooks the blue sea below. The breathtaking view from atop the wall is worthy of even the most extraordinary fairy tales.

Although the city of Agrigento itself isn’t known for any particular attractions, its splendid Cathedral is certainly worth a visit. And after quick visit to the historic center, you’ll have plenty of time to explore Agrigento’s most impressive attraction: the Valley of the Temples. This is one of Sicily’s most renowned archaeological sites, and is even a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ten Greek temples, each dedicated to a different god, stand perched atop a majestic plateau. These are accompanied by other interesting buildings as well, including the Agora and the remains of various tombs and necropolises.

 

The Egadi Islands

We conclude our tour of Western Sicily with an excursion into what many consider to be a maritime Garden of Eden: the Egadi Islands. You’ve likely already heard of Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo: these are the names of the islands that make up the largest Marine Protected Area in all of Europe. Here, the turquoise waters and majestic cliffs create seascapes of unimaginable beauty. All three of these islands in Western Sicily are covered in lush greenery, especially Favignana, which is ideal for taking long walks or bike rides.

Although magnificent all year round, the Egadi Islands are particularly remarkable in the springtime: from April to May the temperatures are already summer-like, the days are sunny and long, and the lush Mediterranean vegetation begins to bloom once again. But the magic of the Egadi islands cannot be conveyed with words... you have to experience it to believe it. It’s a unique charm that envelops each one island of these extraordinary islands. It’s absolute paradise!

Thanks to their picturesque atmosphere and landscapes, the Egadi Islands are one of the most impressive things to see in Western Sicily.

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