The crescent-shaped old town of Trapani, on the coast of Sicily, was once a powerful Mediterranean trading port. Today, it is busy with ferries heading to and from the Aegadian Islands. Before striking out to sea or heading inland, explore the historic city center and the nearby salt pans. Here’s how to spend one day in Trapani.
Morning: The Historic Center
The Spanish occupation of Sicily began with Peter III of Aragon landing in Trapani in 1282, and the town’s historic center is a delightful time capsule of Catalan-Gothic and baroque churches and palaces dating from the harbour’s heyday. Join a walking or biking tour through the warren of small lanes to admire the cathedral and the church of Santa Maria del Gesù, the Senatorio and Riccio di Morana palaces, and the lovely Villa Margherita park. Gourmands can join a food tour that combines sightseeing with stops for street food and wine tastings.
Afternoon: The Trapani Salt Pans
In addition to being a trading port, Trapani was once also an important producer of tuna, coral, and sea salt. Today, the Trapani and Paceco Salt Pans Natural Reserve is one of the most unique destinations on Sicily’s western coast. Take a guided tour to learn about the fascinating history of traditional sea salt harvesting, snap photos of the historic windmills and a former salt mill that has been turned into a museum, and admire the dozens of waterfowl species, like flamingos, cranes, storks, and osprey, that use this 2,500-acre stretch of lowlands as a haven for nesting and migration.
Night: Dinner and A Passeggiata
As the sun sets, the daytime ferry traffic slows, and the evening foot traffic picks up. Join the residents who head to the pedestrian-only Via Garibaldi for the traditional passeggiata (evening stroll), stopping for a Sicilian granita or a glass of wine from nearby Marsala. Choose an old-school trattoria for a leisurely dinner of fresh tuna and seafood as well as other local specialties like couscous, caponata, and pasta tossed with pesto trapanese.