Gulf of Castellammare: Castles and beaches in the nature reserve

Gulf of Castellammare

Sicily's attractive northwest: Fortress Erice

Sicily's attractive northwest: Fortress Erice

Castles and beaches in the nature reserve

The tip of the western Gulf of Castellammare is a particularly beautiful part of Sicily – culturally and scenically. The ancient town of Erice is perched on a cliff 750m (2,400 feet) above the sea. Its scenic location and medieval architecture make it one of the most picturesque towns. Venus Castle was built on the site of an ancient temple that was first dedicated to the Phoenician god Eryx, then the Carthaginian goddess Astarte, the Greek goddess Aphrodite and, finally, the Roman goddess Venus. The site offers fabulous views of Trapani and the islands west of Sicily. North of Scopello begins a picturesque nature reserve that protects the beach, the water and the hinterland of the Gulf. In the far north is the Capo San Vito, where some beaches invite to relax and swim.

Attractions Gulf of Castellammare

Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro

Sandy bays and rugged limestone cliffs

In the 1980s a highway along one of the most scenic stretches of coastline from Castellammare del Golfo to San Vito lo Capo was to be built. After civil protests the government relented and established the first nature reserve in Sicily. The Zingaro reserve covers 1,600 hectares along the coastline with small sandy bays and rugged limestone cliffs. Olive and locust trees and palmettos thrive here, as do hawks, vultures and eagles. Several hiking trails start in Scopello. (round trip: 5:30 hrs, 15.8 km, elevation change: 680 m)

San Vito Lo Capo

Sandy beach and turquoise sea

This sandy beach north of Trapani is one of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily. Its sands, which are almost perfectly white, descend gently into the turquoise sea with the Monte Monaco rising dramatically in the background. In front of it all is an old village with bright white houses and several seafood restaurants. It is not very busy here except during the peak season and on weekends. If you do not feel like swimming or eating, you can hike up to the promontory's rocky summit and admire the blissful bay with the turquoise water on both sides. (3 hrs, 9.1 km, elevation change: 350 m)

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