Any city that was formerly the location of a cult dedicated to worshiping Venus is worth a visit, so we spent Wednesday at Erice.
Erice is perched atop a mountain above Trapani. We could have driven to Erice and parked there, but why drive up a mountain when you can take a cable car?
The ride to the top took over ten minutes, but the views were great despite the morning haze.
Erice has been inhabited for a very, very long time. It was founded by the Elymians, who lived in Sicily from around 1,000 BC (no one knows where they came from). During antiquity, it was also occupied by the Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans. Erice was a popular destination for all of these people because of the cult (ie, sacred prostitutes) and consequently survived numerous conflicts unscathed. Then came the Arabs and the Normans.
Today, Erice remains a perfect snapshot of medieval Sicily. The narrow streets are made of cobblestone, crumbling churches are tucked around every corner, and the ruins of a Norman castle dominates the scene.
Nothing remains of the Temple of Venus, but the stones from the temple were reused in several churches and the castle, which is called both The Castle of Venus and The Castle of the Normans.
Were were amused by this sign at the castle . . .
Although, since I am not the most graceful of individuals, it is an important message for me to remember. (Frequent readers will recall the spill that sent me to a Hungarian emergency room last fall!)
This picture shows two different layers of stones:
The bottom layer was built by the Carthaginians, and the top layer was added by the Normans. It gave me a good sense of how these ancient cities were continuously damaged, rebuilt, and expanded over the centuries.
Strolling through the medieval streets was relaxing, although the cobblestones were hard on our feet. We walked until we were exhausted.
This cheeky cat made himself at home on a ruined building. His gray fur served as excellent camouflage:
My mom and I had some gelato before we took the cable car back down to Trapani. It had been another great day in Sicily.