Trapani town lies at the foot of Erice mountain and is based around a port which has seen a number of sailors from several nations, since Elimi founded the city before Troias fall in 1,260 BC. This ancient city has since that day seen ships from the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Normans, Arabs and others that have arrived here either to conquer this city that lies just between the Tyrrhenian Sea and Sicily Channel or to trade their goods.
Today the city has approx. 70,000 inhabitants and has long since forgotten its heyday. Like many other southern Italian cities, it has developed without a rational planning strategy. If you take into account that much of the city was destroyed by the Allies during World War II, you know not to expect an architecturally intact city centre.
On the other hand, the mood of the city is intact in the narrow streets and small squares where you can still feel the old town atmosphere: on the balconies the old wives pull their picnic baskets up filled with fresh bread from the bakers. In the same way, waste is lowered down in the baskets for organic collection. There is not much traffic here but there are many cafes and restaurants to explore.
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Salt has been produced along this coast for a millennia. A portion of the salt mines have been recently restored, and are beginning to produce salt again. The salt coming from these mines apparently has special properties and it is sought after by many leading renowned chefs. Some of the old windmills that were used to pull water from the salt mines back in the old days can today be visited.
Trapani is home to one of Sicily's three airports. Birgi airport is used mainly by Ryan Air and if you land here, then you are conveniently placed for trips to Lo Zingaro nature reserve, Palermo, Cefalù and Nebrodi Park on the north coast. There are a few trains between Trapani and Palermo per day, and from Palermo you can link up to other places along the coast such as Cefalu, Catania, Siracusa and Taormina but be warned, it's a big island and the trains take their time. It's easy to hire a car if you are an ambitious traveller and want to pack it all in.