Things to do
Villa Delle Rose lends itself as an ideal base for exploring the nearby area. A few places to visit
The Zingaro Nature Reserve
The entrance to Zingaro is only a few hundred meters from the house; when reaching the main road take a right and follow until the road ends and you see a parking space. It is within walking distance of the entrance. Entrance costs 5 EUR per adult; children are free. Lo Zingaro stretches 7km along the coast between Scopello and San Vito Lo Capo. Many paths allow you to discover the most hidden gems of one of the most beautiful parts of western Sicily, including white coves, desert beaches, and over 650 species of plants.
Tonnara di Scopello
The Tonnara di Scopello is one of the most important Sicilian historic estates, probably the only intact evidence of a traditional Mediterranean tuna fishery. This ancient monumental settlement, enclosed by old perimeter walls, is located around a small bay, where majestic rocks with prickly pear cactus on top, called Faraglioni, make the seawater look like a lagoon. A medieval tower overhangs the place, and a piece of land with oleanders, olive and almond trees surrounds the buildings. At the Tonnara di Scopello tuna fishing stopped in 1984. The Tonnara is privately owned and now hosts a Bed and Breakfast and a museum. It is also a popular spot for weddings and film shootings (Ocean’s Twelve etc.)
The entrance is marked by a green bar close to the main road and an entrance fee is charged.
The Stagnone Nature Reserve – The Ancient Salt Pans
The Stagnone Nature Reserve, between Trapani and Marsala, is home to the ancient tradition of sea-salt production and a flourishing variety of wildlife and a fascinating archipelago consisting of four primarily uninhabited islands. The salt pans at the Stagnone are particularly worth a visit and offer a truly unique landscape. Windmills, first introduced during mediaeval times, dot the horizon, a testament to how things were once done. However, one or two continue to function, pumping water through the sluice gates into or out of the various basins.
This small island is part of the Stagnone Nature reserve and one of the original settlements in Sicily. The Carthagians build a flourishing commercial town and trade outpost on this tiny island. The island was then fortified with walls around it, and many signs remain of the prestigious buildings from this time.
Selinunte is one of the largest and most impressive archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. Once one of the most progressive and eminent cities in Magna Graecia, in 409BC Selinunte became, almost overnight, a large expanse of rubble. The reason for this was an attack from the old enemy, the Carthaginians who, for many years, had seen this upstart town as a threat to their influence in Sicily. Selinunte is beautifully located, sitting on a high plain and overlooking the sea. It is flanked on either side by golden beaches and, being almost 1km wide, is an excellent excuse for a good walk.
This Greek temple can be seen from the motorway between Trapani and Palermo. The Doric Temple was not built by the Greeks but by the Elymians, an indigenous population of Sicily who also founded Erice. The building of the temple took place between 430 and 420 BC. It has 36 Doric columns and is 61 metres long and 26 metres wide.
Close by is also the open-air SPA Terme Segeste with hot water pools.
Originally an Elymian city (the Elymians were around before the Greeks ever set foot in Sicily), Erice, or Eryx as it was first called, is a mix of Arabic, Greek, Norman influence. The little town has more than 60 churches, with the Gothic Chiesa Madre from 1314 being one of the most interesting. There is also the Arabic castle Torre Pepoli worth a visit with the most stunning view of the landscape of Sicily. Erice can be reached by cable car from Trapani. It is also possible to drive up the mountain (very steep!).
Castellammare del Golfo
Nestled in the charming Gulf of Castellammare, this seaside town, which takes its name from the medieval castle with its round tower sited in front of the sea, has been inhabited since pre-Hellenic time. It was the port and emporium of the ancient cities of Segesta and Erice. Today it is an agricultural and commercial town specialized in woodworking.
It is possible to rent boats by the hour from the port. Many good restaurants worth a visit around the port.
Fresh fish can also be bought here, either in the port or at the market.
San Vito Lo Capo
A beautiful seaside resort situated in the middle of a bay on the western coast of the Gulf of Castellammare. It has been renowned for its fishing since Roman times. Near its “tonnara”, there are still traces of the old tanks used for fish farming during those times. The former white fishermans’ houses have now been transformed into hotels, B&B, restaurants, handcraft shops etc. San Vito has a long, white sandy beach and a boardwalk made of local marble!
Trapani is a city with an elegant design and beautiful baroque architecture ( much of it recently renovated). It was a Carthaginian, then a Roman and finally a Byzantine stronghold. Under the Arab domination, the city was one of the most flourishing centres for Sicily’s salt, coral and tuna production. It is easiest to see the town on foot.
Palermo, a Norman town, is the regional capital, a buzzing city with around one million inhabitants. Palermo’s history has been anything but stable as the town passed from one dominating power to another with remarkable frequency. This has left many marks on the town and the characteristics of the people of Palermo. Palermo provides a bit of an adventure; it can be pretty challenging to drive and get around. We recommend buying a town guide beforehand to find out where to park, what to see and how to get around. On the outskirts of Palermo is the lovely beach of Mondello with many excellent local fish restaurants.
The Capo market is also worth a visit.
Famous for its wine and the landing of the Garibaldi’s Thousands, It was called Lilibeo during the Carthaginian domination who founded this town in 397 BC. It was then renamed Marsa Allah (God port) by the Arabs. In addition to the Roman remains, Marsala has got beautiful baroque buildings and a fascinating archaeological museum. It is also the capital of wine.
The Duomo of Monreale is one of the world’s most stunning architectural treasures.
The story of how this splendid cathedral came into being starts when the Arabs took control of Palermo in 831: They transformed the cathedral into a mosque. Some 240 years later, in 1072, the Normans drove the Arabs from Sicily, establishing Palermo as their capital and re-consecrating the cathedral. In 1074, King William II ordered the construction of a new church in Monreale, dedicated to the Virgin Mary (one of the mosaics depicts King William II presenting the church to the Madonna). On its completion in 1182, Pope Lucius III elevated the splendid church to the status of a metropolitan cathedral.
Enlightened, tolerant and appreciative of many aspects of North African and middle-eastern culture and art, William II employed the very best Arabic and Byzantine (and Norman) craftsmen to work on the cathedral. The result is a fabulous and fascinating fusion of architectural styles, artistic traditions and religious symbolism.