venerdì 5 dicembre 2014

A walk in the beautiful little jewel of Sicily: Erice

Have you ever heard about Erice?
It's a beautiful little town on the top of a mountain in the province of Trapani, Sicily.
Sicily is a beautiful Island in the South of Italy and if you go there you'll fall in love with it! There are so many historical places to visit, the food is delicious and the weather is always pleasant (but get ready if you decide to go to Sicily in Summer because it's very very hot!).
Erice is a typical medieval town with its narrow tiny streets, its arches, its workshops and the big castle where you'll enjoy a breath-taking view of the sea and the Egadi Islands.

 


As Erice rises on the top of a mountain (751 mt high), you have two ways to reach it: by a car or by the cableway. Once you arrive to Trapani by car, from there you can follow the street wich goes up the mountain and after a series of curves you'll arrive to a big car park  where you can leave your car (the old town centre is a pedestrian area).
Otherways, you can reach Erice using the cableway which starts from Trapani. For me this is the best way to reach the top of the mountain because it is fast (it only takes you 10 minutes) and from there you can enjoy a panoramic view of Trapani .
 
I suggest you to have a walk and get inspired by the windy streets, the little shops and from the fragrance of the local pastry made by the nuns at a previous time. Even if Erice is a touristic place, you can find your spot to rest and to find silence and meditate "in the clouds."

 
 
These are the places worth a visit for me:
 
Duomo dell'Assunta o Chiesa Madre - Church of the Annunciation
 
It is located near Porta Trapani (Trapani Gate), in Piazza Matrice.
It was built in the XIV century by Frederick of Aragon with a defensive purpose; next to it you can see the bell tower which was used as a defence too (you can go inside it and go up to the top).
It is worth a visit for me to see the characteristic stone used for its construction and  inside the Church the beautiful vaults marble decorated.

 
 

 

Castello di Venere - Venus Castle
 
It is a Norman Castle but it has an ancient history, when Aeneas built in this place a temple for his mother Venus. Then the Normans built a frotress with big walls and the Balio Towers to defend the castle.
This is my favourite spot in Erice because the Castle was built in the north east area of the Mount and from its bastions you can get a glimse of the sea, Mount Cofano, Trapani and the Egadi Islands.

 
 










 
 


Giardino del Balio - Balio Garden
 
The Balio Garden sorrounds the Castle and takes its name from the Norman's governor who lived here.
It's very peaceful to rest in the garden after a long walk because it's a little more windy, there are benches and the trees shade you. The scent of the Mediterrean vegetation will keep company to you and the beautiful view is always there for you, as if it was a painting.
In the Balio garden you'll also find a bar/restaurant where you can sit and taste delicious Sicilian specialties (you must try the pistachio pesto sauce!).








 


I heartily recommend you to taste the local pastry: Erice is famous for its typical sweets called "genovesi". They were originally made by the nuns who lived in the convent of Erice and then they become so famous that now you'll find them in every bakery. They are a kind of tart filled with custard and powdered sugar on the top.
But you can also taste other sicilian pastry such as "cannoli siciliani", "cassate" (ricotta cheese-based cakes, sponge-cake and candied fruit) and "frutta martorana" (small sweets with the shape of different kind of fruit made of marzipan and almond flour).

I've visited the bakery "Maria Grammatico" in Via Vittorio Emanuele 14. It's famous in Erice, everybody knows the owner and it's very nice because it's little but it has tables and chairs outside where you can sit and taste its delicacies. Here you'll find the reviews on Tripadvisor.


In pasticceria / at the bakery

You are in a bakery in Erice and you want to order a coffee and a pastry. Do you know how to do it in Italian? Following some useful phrases :
 


Vorrei un caffè, grazie

I’d like a coffee, please

Prendo un cappuccino per favore

I’ll have a cappuccino, please

Mi dà /darebbe una cassata per favore?

Would you give me a cassata, please?

Cosa le porto? (chiesto dal cameriere)

What can I get you? (if asked by the waiter)

Vuole dello zucchero?

Would you like some sugar?

Che tipo di dolci avete?

What sort of pastries do you have?

Avete qualche specialità locale?

Do you have any local specialties?

Vorrei due genovesi e due cannoli siciliani per favore

I’d like two genovesi and two sicilian cannoli, please

Vorrei un vassoio di pasticcini

I’d like to order a tray of pastries

A che gusto le vuole?

What flavour would you like?

Mangia qui o porta via?

Eat in or take away? (if the bakery has tables and chairs to sit in)

Quant’è?

How much is it?

Vorrei il conto per favore

May I have the bill, please?

Ecco il suo resto

Here is the change

Tenga pure il resto

You can keep the change

Ecco lo scontrino

Here is your receipt


 
If you are with someone else and you want to treat him/her to something you would ask:


Cosa vorresti mangiare/bere?

What would you like to eat/drink?

Cosa prendi?

What are you having?


 
Vocabolario / Vocabulary


Using the same phrases you can also order:

Un caffé macchiato
coffee with a little bit of milk
Un latte macchiato
milk with a little bit of coffee
Un tè
a tea
Un succo di frutta
a fruit juice
Una pasta (dolce)
a pastry
Una torta
a cake
Un bicchiere d’acqua (naturale/frizzante)
a glass of water (still/sparkling)