Thursday, June 8, 2017 + Friday, June 9, 2017
In just over an hour, we stepped back in Medieval times!
Erice is located on top of Mount Erice, about 750 metres (2,460 ft) above sea level, and overlooking the city of Trapani. What a climb it is! Up, up up you go on a 2-lane winding road, mostly with hairpin turns, praying no tourist buses would appear… but they do! How these monsters on wheels can handle this road is beyond any stretch of the imagination!
Through cobblestone narrow streets, we found our lodging: Il Carmine (www.ilcarmine.com), a restored Carmelite convent built in 1423. This is not a big place (about 8 rooms) and is definitely not for everyone. The amenities are simple, spartan even, but there is enough comfort to make your stay a pleasant one. No elevators here, but a wide stone staircase leading to a great hall where the rooms are located. There is a small chapel on the main floor, open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Our room is very bright and spacious, with a cute balcony that would make Juliette happy. Each room has a small bathroom with a shower. But be warned: With a boiler for hot water, do not expect two people to shower one right after the other (the second one will have to be content with cold water… yikes!) and the shower itself is definitely too narrow for two! So, if you are looking for something different, this is the perfect place! It has a unique character and unparalleled charm. We will be spending 2 tranquil nights here.
Except with a few local drivers, Erice is a pedestrian town. Wonderful? Yes, but not so fast… Cobble stones only (not one ounce of pavement), going up, going down, with steep stone steps, with packed dirt, with… you get the idea! So, don’t try to walk with flip flops in this maze! And walking we did!!!!! About 7 hours of meandering, in and out of churches, stopping for coffee and granita, walking some more… My main thought through the day was: “if only these walls could talk…”. The stories they would tell! And I would love to hear them. We hope the pictures we took will do this spectacular town justice.
Churches are a big part of Erice history. Originally, about 60 churches had been erected to honour saints and martyrs alike. Over centuries, however, many have been converted to stores or restaurants. If the beautiful cathedral stands alone in its own square, many other churches are more discreet and tucked away. But don’t be too quick to dismiss them… they often display magnificent art and architecture. One of them even showcased a miniature version of the town, all hand made by locals. The project took three year in the making and is absolutely stunning!
Fellow travellers: If you plan to visit all the sites at your leisure, you might consider purchasing a pass. In the town next to the cathedral, several passes are available. A full pass gives you access to about 10 sites and costs 15 euros. Also consider a 2-day stay if you want to visit everything at your leisure. It would be sad to rush it.
Some fun along the way: Nothing beats “live” Italian tunes…