Erice & Trapani
The dramatically beautiful medieval hill town of Erice is about 45 minutes northeast of Trapani by bus and not should be missed on any account. Settled by Elymians, an ancient mountain people who also founded Segesta, it was an important religious site associated with goddess of fertility – first the Carthaginian Astarte, then the Greek Aphrodite, and finally the Roman Venus. Of the several churches and other monuments in the small, quiet town, the Chiesa Madre, just inside Porta Trapani, is probably the most interesting by virtue of its separate bell tower with mullioned windows. Built in 1314, the interior of the church was remodelled in neogothic style in 1865 but the 15th century side chapels were conserved. Also worth paying attention to is the ornate vaulted ceiling.