The magic of Erice

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Erice
The journey from Bonagia to Erice is not just a journey from the sea to the mountains, you can rather call it a jump in time. The fishermen village of Bonagia lies at the slopes of Mount Erice, overlooking the sea. It dates back to the 1600’s and it hosts an ancient tuna fishery now converted into a prestigious hotel. At the foot of the Saracen tower, once a lookout over the sea and today the house to the Museo della Tonnara, you can plunge into the crystalline sea of the inlet.

The warm sun caresses our skin, while we are lounging on comfortable wooden platforms placed on the sharp rocks to facilitate bathing. We enjoy the breathtaking landscape that surrounds us, admiring, in the background, the promontory of Mount Cofano, which stands like if it is guarding the coves on the coast. In the meantime, Arturo takes the chance to cool off with a swim in the emerald waters.
As I said earlier, the journey from the Gulf of Bonagia towards Mount Erice, is temporal rather than geographical. Going up the zigzagging paths, we are wrapped by the fog that hides the sunny and warm coast, where until a few minutes before we were basking under the sun. The fog creates the right atmosphere to discover Erice, which still retains its medieval soul.
Entering the citadel from Porta Trapani, access to Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the main road on which converge the so called “venules”, steep and narrow streets that connect the different levels of the town and break the gusts of the cold and wet wind that is also felt in the middle of summer on the top of this isolated, 750 meters high mountain.
The cobblestone street takes you to the front of the sixteenth century Cathedral dedicated to The Assumption. Its bell tower was originally a watchtower and rises in the mist as if it had no foundations. Humidity is drenching and using a beach towel is not enough, so the best thing to do is to shelter in the fragrant and delicious world of Maria Grammatico, where almond pastes, diced citron, fig biscuits, cassata are on display together with Genoese cream and the best ricotta cannoli I’ve ever eaten in my entire life!
After warming up a bit and having pleased the palate, the path through the alleys and squares that seem to play hide and seek in the clouds, continues towards the hill that leads to the XIX century gardens of Balio, overlooked by the norman Pepoli Castle. On the right of the castle, built on the remains of the Temple of Venus Ericina, stands the castle of Venus. In fact Mount Erice, has always been dedicated to the goddess of fertility, beauty and love: Aphrodite to the Greeks and Venus to the Romans.
When leaving Erice in the direction of Trapani, a route that can also be done by cable car enjoying spectacular views and avoiding the many bends in the road, I recall the places of the monk Adso in the “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco. I think that Erice, with all its wonderful magic soaked with medieval spirit, could have been the perfect setting for some scenes of the film inspired by the book.
BLOC NOTES
BONAGIA
Museo della Tonnara
Piazza Tonnara
Ingresso gratuito
Ristorante Il Cortile di Venere 2
Via Tonnara 59
tel. +39 0923 592700
ERICE
Pasticceria Maria Grammatico
Via Vittorio Emanuele, 14
Tel. +39 0923 3869390
(Traduzioni di Monia Saponaro)

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