Salt-pools of Trapani and Isola di Mozia

The salt-pools of Trapani are coastal wetlands where sea salt has been harvested for nearly 3,000 years.  Salt from here is considered Italy’s finest.  Today it’s a cottage industry, selling to upscale restaurants and shops.

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In winter the piles of salt are covered with tiles to protect the salt from the weather.

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A short boat ride took us to the island of Mozia.  

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Ancient Mozia (Motya), established in the 8th century BC, was one of the Mediterranean’s most important Phoenician settlements.  At one point, it had 15,000 residents.

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The island of San Pantaleo (Mozia was renamed in the 11th century) was bought by Joseph Whitaker in the early 20th century.  He built a villa and spent decades excavating the island.  Many of the artifacts he found are on display in his museum.  The island is still being excavated.

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These dioramas show what archeologists think Mozia looked like 2500 years ago.  

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Il Giovinetto di Mozia, also called the Apollo of Mozia or the Motya Charioteer, is a sculpture found in 1979.  It is believed to be from the 5th century BC.

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We could have spent hours in this museum.

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We took a long walk around the island to see the excavations.

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In ancient times, a causeway connected Mozia to the coast of Sicily.  Large wheeled chariots could travel back and forth.  You can still see the causeway just under the water in these photos.

This is looking back toward Trapani and the mountaintop town of Erice.

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All of the specks in the sky are windsurfers!

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The sacred pool of Baal collected fresh water from springs.

Mozia was invaded in 397 BC by Dionysius, a Greek tyrant from Syracuse, in southeastern Sicily.  The inhabitants were all but wiped out.  Refugees settled in the area of Marsala, nearby on the northwest coast of Sicily.  In the 11th century, the Normans gave the island to a group of Basilian monks who renamed it San Pantaleo.  It later passed to the Jesuits.  It wasn’t until 1619 that a traveling scholar identified the ancient city.

That’s a lot to digest…..before a fabulous outdoor picnic lunch!

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Another fabulous meal in Sicily!

We boated back to the mainland, past the pink salt ponds.  The brine in the water encourages the growth of a bacterium that turns the ponds a pink color.

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Off to Agrigento next…

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The Port Town of Trapani, Sicily

Trapani is on the northwest tip of Sicily.  It began as a port to serve the hilltop town of Erice.

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Trapani has been ruled by Romans, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Arabs and, in 1077, was conquered by the Norman, Roger I (who we “met” in Palermo).  Much of the architecture is baroque from the 17th and 18th century of their Spanish period.  

 

We spent an evening walking around the old town.

   

The Cattedrale di San Lorenzo was built in 1421.  It was restored in the 18th century.

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Looking back toward Erice, on the distant hilltop.

 

 

The wine shop, above on the left, offers a uniquely Sicilian “service”.  You can take your own bottle, even a water bottle, and buy wine by the liter from a keg!

 

We stayed two nights in a remodeled monastery.  This must be the most unusual room we’ve ever had! 

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The floor was plexiglas, lighted from below, showing the curve of the original ceiling below, along with some big chunks of salt from the salt-pans of Trapani (where we will visit next).

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The ceiling was unique too.

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There was a nice walk along the coast, near our hotel.

Sunset in Trapani

Posted in Italy, Sicily, Trapani | Tagged , , | 2 Comments