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Trapani, in the far west of Sicily, was called Drépanon in antiquity, after the Greek word for sickle. That name was given to the city because of the semicircular shape of the port. That natural harbor was the reason for founding the city: goods could be transported to and from Erice through the port. Nowadays, a daily fish market is held at the harbor on Piazza del Mercato del Pesce (Fish market square).
Trapani is best known for its airport, but do consider exploring the town itself as well. It has an impressive basilica, Santuario Madonna Santissima Annunziata. The original dates back to the 14th century; the church was rebuilt in 1760. Amongst other things you can see a marble statue here of the Madonna of Trapani, presumably made by Nino Pisano. The churches Sant'Agostino (14th century) and Santa Maria de Gesù (15th and 16th century) are worth a visit too.
The Palazzo Cavarretta is the city hall of Trapani, a fine example of Italian Baroque. Take a look also at the other buildings along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
The city holds a remarkable Easter procession every year, which lasts up to 16 hours! In the procession ancient religious sculptures (from the 17th and 18th century) are carried.
For centuries, the fishermen of Trapani have dived after coral to make jewelry. Since the 15th century the artisans of Trapani were famous in the entire Mediterranean region for their jewelry made of coral often mixed with pearls, ivory, gold, silver and copper. In the Museo Agostino Pepoli you can see what these craftsmen were capable of. The museum is housed in a monastery from the 14th century. You will be impressed! One of the highlights is a cross, made of just one piece of coral.
Around Trapani you can see flat pieces of land where salt is extracted. You can learn more about the process in the Museo delle Saline.
Trapani was built as a port for Erice, 14 kilometers to the north. The town sits on top of a mountain and has a beautiful medieval center. In the northeast of Erice you can see the oldest city walls and furthermore it has two castles: the Pepoli Castle and the Venus Castle which was built on the remains of a temple. From Trapani you can reach Erice by cable car.
San Vito lo Capo is a popular resort with white beaches and crystal clear waters. South of this town - along the Gulf of Castellammare - lies a nature reserve (the first reserve on Sicily) with rare plants. You can see many birds of prey here too.
Fans of the sweet Marsala wine should head south from Trapani. From Marsala several wine routes have been plotted.
Off the coast are the islands of the Egadi archipelago. The largest and most popular island is Favignana, which is shaped like a butterfly and has a rich history. Remnants of a burial site from the 8th century BC have been found near San Nicola.
Levanzo is the smallest island and you can make beautiful walks here. The Genovese Cave contains prehistoric rock drawings. This cave is also accessible by boat.
Marettimo island is located the furthest from Trapani and is visited the least. Also here are several caves that you can visit by renting a fishing boat.
The old center of Trapani is largely pedestrianized. You can park your car at the edge of that area, but keep in mind that it gets very busy during summer months. Most hotels offer parking facilities by the way, and Trapani is small enough to explore on foot. For trips around the area a rental car is an excellent means of transport.
The city's airport is located thirteen kilometers south of Trapani. From Trapani Airport you can reach the city center in under ten minutes, via the SP21 or SS115. Many people arrive at the airport of Palermo Airport, eighty kilometers east of Trapani. The A29 motorway connects that airport to Trapani.