What to see in Scopello

The sea and what to see in Scopello

Dove si trova Scopello

Scopello is a small but charming seaside village, it is the southern gate of the Zingaro Nature Reserve about 40 kilometers from Trapani. The town is organized around the central square, Piazza Nettuno, near which is the famous farmhouse, dating back to the eighteenth century.

According to some, the beauty of the place was captured by Homer, who set it as the final stage prior to the return of Ulysses to Ithaca: the Island of the Phaeacians would be just the bay of Scopello.

It is not clear if its name, which probably alludes to the presence of volcanic stacks, derived from the greek or latin (or scopelos scopulus respectively). It was destroyed by a tsunami, and what remained, are exceptional testimonies to the past, still sunk in the nearby waters. Today it is one of  most engaged by tourists.

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The sea is like a dream: the stacks emerge impressively out of the crystal clear water, opposite the ancient tunaries, characterizing the landscape. The tunary which lays on part of the beach, was built in the thirteenth century, renovated during the eighteenth century and abandoned only in 1981.

The coast nestles picturesque bays, suitable for those who cannot help themselves by diving in with mask and snorkel. Do not miss Guidaloca Bay, further south, the beach is small but still cozy and charming, set across a green length and a large rocky ridge. It is possible to rent umbrellas and chairs.

In the immediate surroundings there are numerous dive sites, some a little busier, while others are decidedly more secret: Cala Bianca, Cala Rossa and Punta Pispisa are chosen by the most daring and reached only by boat, given the difficulty of the dive into the sea.

Cala Mazzo however, hides a small beach of white sand in front of a beautiful turquoise sea. To get there, you will need to take a dirt road.
To the south, Scopello is a stage of departure for excursions and trekking inside the Natural Reserve of the Zingaro, a place to discover unspoiled landscapes.

In the evening Scopello becomes a place for walking and fine cuisine, where it will not be difficult to find among the narrow streets of the village, restaurants or taverns to taste the delicacies of the local cuisine as well as fresh fish and several couscous dishes prepared with genuine products of the ‘hinterland of Trapani.

Along with San Vito lo Capo, Scopello is a popular choice by Italians and foreign tourists for the coast of Trapani.

What to see in San Vito lo Capo

The Village of San Vito lo Capo

Dove si trova San Vito Lo Capo

Among the most famous seaside resorts in Sicily, San Vito Lo Capo, an unspoiled penninsula, boasts itself to have the most beautiful of seas, with a wide beach that each year becomes a favorite destination for thousands of tourists.

The crystal clear waters, sometimes turquoise, with a bottom consisting of fragments of shells, with the fine sand and the surrounding landscape that frame this incredible natural scene, making San Vito lo Capo, the most beautiful beach in Italy.

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The town of San Vito Lo Capo is a small fishing village, not founded before the sixteenth century. Its very quiet during the winter but is in movement from May until October. Situated at the foot of Mount Monaco, about 40 km from Trapani, San Vito lo Capo is concentrated mostly along the main street, Via Savoia, where there is an unusual Mother Church built on the foundations of an earlier war fortification.

It’s along the course that you find the crowds, there after dinner for an evening stroll, perhaps to enjoy a nice ice cream and buy some souvenirs. The restaurants offer seafood that you will not be able to resist.

What to see in Mazara del Vallo

What to see in Mazara del Vallo

Dove si trova Mazara del Vallo

Mazara del Vallo is the most striking example of the interlacing of civilizations that took place in Sicily between the European populations and those of Islamic and the North African region.

Situated in the western part of the island, Mazara has maintained its maritime vocation derived from ancient times through the centuries, becoming one of the most important fishing ports of the Mediterranean Sea.

In an ambient strongly permeated with Arab culture, hence the current urban structure, beautiful buildings stand in an elegant Baroque.  Walking through the streets and squares of Mazara, you can re-live the harmony experienced among the people of different origins that have always distinguished this city.

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Historical Background of Mazara del Vallo

Known since Phoenician times, Mazara del Vallo, it was tied to Selinunte by important trade routes as well as its strategical placement, but then moved into the hands of the Carthaginians in the fifth century BC. The Romans, who after the Second Punic War were awarded the possession of Sicily, made Mazara an important fortified center.

It was the first city conquered by the Arabs, who made it their headquarters for the conquest of Sicily.  Mazara, located in the capital of the West territories (Sicily, was divided into three different districts, the Vals), experienced an unparalleled growth and development.

Much wider than in the past, it was massively fortified; it become the main port of Sicily, while fishing and agriculture met an exceptional increase in production, thanks to the techniques and fruits that came from the east (loquat, orange, pistachio, palm trees, sugar cane and much more).

The last Sicilian town to lay down arms against the Normans, Mazara del Vallo had the honor of hosting the first Sicilian parliament in 1097.  It became an important religious center, but the following centuries were unable to mirror the splendors of the Arab period.  Overshadowed by the importance of Palermo and Trapani, Mazara del Vallo experienced a slow but progressive decline.

Only in the nineteenth century, Mazara managed to regain momentum: the export of wines and the resumption of fishing, formed new fodder for the most Arab city of Sicily.

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Mazara del Vallo by Night

Mazara del Vallo is quite a lively town in the evening with a beautiful promenade that is concentrated between Piazza Mokarta and Piazza Matteotti (linked from Corso Umberto I) and on the waterfront Giuseppe Mazzini.

Try some restaurants in the center, where the kitchen still retains Arab traditions.  Couscous, a traditional dish of Tunisia, is now a staple of the local cuisine.  However, a little bit of all the fish dishes are at least worth a taste: from seafood with shrimp, and not to mention swordfish and squid dishes served in different but always exquisite variations.

For the younger ones, in Mazara can be found elegant bars and discos where one can spend the weekend evenings and beyond.  During the summer, parties are organized on the beautiful long beaches that the coast of Mazara del Vallo boasts of.

What to see in Marsala

What to see in Marsala

Dove si trova Marsala

Placed upon the promontory Boeo, Marsala, is the western most city in Sicily.  The town, rich in history and charm, owes its name to Arab influence: Marsa Allah, the port of God, has always been a city of fundamental strategic importance for routes within Mediterranean Sea.

Along with a bourgeois city center, Marsala can boast of beautiful beaches, where many athletes take delight in the new fashion of Kite Surfing, taking advantage of the winds of the Strait of Sicily. In the vicinity of the city, the island of Mozia, one of the most important archaeological sites in Sicily.

Famous throughout the world for its excellent wine that bears its name, Marsala went down in history for being the city where Garibaldi landed in Sicily for the liberation of southern Italy from the Bourbon domination.

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The Archaeological Museum of Marsala

The archaeological museum of Marsala has its headquarters in the former rural farm Anselmo, which was recently restored. The Museum exhibits a wide variety of archaeological finds, recovered between Marsala and its surrounding areas.

The room on the left is devoted to the prehistoric period through archaeological evidence found on the island of Mozia: emphasizing the materials used in the Paleolithic, it houses a large vase and a funerary equipment. Another area is specific to findings of Mozia during the Carthaginian period.

The sectors overlooking ancient Marsala, Lilibeo, are different archeological finds  that trace the history of the town for over four hundred years: with the funeral equipment of numerous ancient periods and objects of common use

What makes a visit to the Archaeological Museum a must for lovers of history are the remains of a Carthaginian warship of the third century BC.

The wreckage is unique in the world: liburna was a boat small but agile, which had about 68 oars stations.  From the original vessel, and  jealously guarded, are the bow and a sidewall, on which are painted letters in the Phoenician-Punic languages, which perhaps was useful during assembly of the ship.  In addition to the wreckage, were also recovered materials distinguished as anchors in iron and stone, pottery and even hashish, which were used in large quantities by the crews of the time to reduce the feeling of fatigue.

A little mystery also in regards to the nails, which although were in the water for over 2,300 years, showed no sign of oxidation: in-depth studies, which also have been carried out by NASA, scientists were unable to figure out which factor may have caused this phenomenon.

The Wine of excellence, the Marsala.

The wine industry has long been a fundamental part Marsala’s economy.  This is due to the intuition of John Woodhouse and a Liverpool merchant who sensed the potential of the fortified Sicilian wine.  Its organoleptic characteristics depend on the particular soil and a rather hot climate.

The wine, noble in flavor and delicate in scent, is aged in precious wooden barrels.  Today, together with its classical variant of Marsala, you can taste flavored variants of almond, chocolate and coffee.

Historical Background of Marsala

The foundation of Marsala dates from the fourth century BC through the work of people of Carthaginian origin from the nearby Mozia, who fell under the dominion of Syracuse.  Along with the peoples of the land was thus created Lilibeo (from the Greek, which looks to Libya), with massive fortifications, it was the last outpost of Carthage to fall at the hands of Rome.

During the Empire, the city became the most important harbor in the Mediterranean: however, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, Marsala went through a long period of decline, undergoing numerous lootings and pillaging by the Vandals and Goths.

It was with the arrival of the Arabs in 830, that Marsala went back to being the nerve center of the Mediterranean outpost for Muslim emigration to Europe, it reorganized its urban agglomeration according to Arabic models.  This period had definitely affected the social fabric of the city of Marsala.

The May 11, 1860, the city of Marsala welcomed Garibaldi’s troops, who landed without any French resistance in Sicily. It was the beginning of the liberation of Sicily from Bourbon domination.

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Marsala by Night

Marsala is a lively city all year round where the restaurants and taverns match the quality of the products of its Sicilian cuisine, with notable Arab influence, that here takes prominence in all things.  Prices are very accessible.  In addition, the city isn’t lacking in many great pubs and stylish bars.

For younger people, Marsala offers several solutions: from pubsand disco clubs to local places near the beaches during the summer.

What to see in Erice

What to see in Erice

Dove si trova Erice

The picturesque and charming town of Erice is one of the most attractive tourist resorts, not only in Sicily, but throughout the Mediterranean area. It is located at the height of 750 meters, from which you can admire all its medieval glory: alleys and courtyards make you feel like time has stopped.

From here, you can enjoy a breathtaking view from Trapani to the Aegadian Islands where, at sunset, a fantastic set of colours appears in front of your eyes and the rays of the setting sun are reflected in the whiteness of the saltpans. Thousands of tourists crowd the streets during the whole year and, as Erice hosts the Centre for Scientific Culture “Ettore Majorana” since 1963, there are also many scholars from around the world.

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The Museums in Erice

The Museum A. Cordici, is located in the Town Hall, in the elegant “Umberto I” Square. Here, you can find the beautiful marble work of the Annunciation, as well as archaeological findings with an incredible value: the Aphrodite’s marble little head (IV century BC), and the pintadera, an object used in the past to get ornamental moulds on leather textiles. In addition to these, some other objects were found all along the slopes of Mount Erice: bronzes, earthenwares, glass and coins of very different eras, from the Carthaginian period to the late Roman period.

The 1st floor of the building also hosts the municipal library, which includes more than 20,000 volumes and 300 manuscripts.
The Agro-forestry Museum “St. Mattew”, a few kilometres far from the centre of Erice, is a further interesting step for those who love Nature. Located within the forest property, it includes a rich collection of flora and fauna typical of the area around Erice, but there is also a number of old farming tools and an oil mill.
The Malacological Museum is about 1 km far from Erice and has its base next to a former seventeenth-century church. Inside, you will find a rich collection of crustaceans, echinoderms, shells and marine fossils dating back to prehistoric times.

Historical Background of Erice

Erice was probably founded by the Elymians, the indigenous population who welcomed the exiles from Troy among his people. Yet, all along the mount’s slopes were found traces of previous prehistoric settlements. In ancient times, Erice was a holy town and for this reason on the mount’s top there was the temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of Fertility and patron of sailors (the Romans called her Venus Ericina).

The town was characterized not only by worship, but also by transgression: the beautiful goddess’ priestesses behaved as rake women and, as a consequence ,they brought about today’s practices like prostitution.
Eryx was one of the most important fortresses in Sicily, it was allied to Carthage and was lost and re-conquered. The population was deported to Drepano (the modern Trapani) and the town, including the sacred temple, was razed to the ground. Once conquered by the Romans, it lost its political-administrative relevance it had had in the past.

The Arabs arrived in Erice in 831 and renamed it Gebel-Hamed (meaning Mountain of Hamid). But it was only with the Normans that the town was able to return to its former glory: they reinforced the walls, they built the Castle and wonderful palaces and churches, they reorganized the urban shape. Erice was called Monte San Giuliano by Count Roger (according to the legend, the saint appeared in one of his
dreams during the siege) and it kept all its beauty and much of its importance throughout the Modern Age.

In 1934 Mussolini expressed his will to name it Erice again, in memory of the ancient Roman Age, which was an inspiration for the fascist movement.
Since 1963 Erice is famous for hosting the Centre for Scientific Culture “Ettore Majorana”, a prestigious scientific organization for the study of planetary emergencies, founded by the Trapanese Physicist and international scientific leader Antonino Zichici.

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Erice by Night

The night life in Erice can be funny and relaxing, romantic and adventurous. Its atmosphere is magical and it is the ideal place to have dinner in a restaurant, and then look at the wonderful panorama that Erice has.

However, there are attractions for those who want to make new friends: you can find many tourists in bars, pubs and disco clubs: the right places to drink, dance and meet people. All this in an incredible location deeply rooted in history; it is difficult to compare it to other places.

The Beaches in Marettimo Island and what to see

Dove si trova Marettimo

Marettimo, the westernmost island of the Egadi Islands is large-part unspoiled, beautiful with it pure rock coastline, where it hides about 400 caves all along its coast, as well as small beaches reachable only by boat.

The island is a rocky promontory extended for about 7 km, reaching 686 meters above sea level at the summit of Monte Falcone. Here terrestrial flora is particularly rich, counting about 500 different plant species. The fauna however, is a bit less diverse, but prolific in different wildlife (rabbits, wild boars, reptiles and migratory birds).

The Beaches in Marettimo Island and what to see

The Marettimo coast is rocky, characterized by hundreds of caves and coves that open up to a crystalline blue sea. At the Rock of the Camel, on the eastern side of the island, there is a small beach harmoniously wedged within a cave.  The scenario that presents itself is almost magical.

Further north is Punta Troia, which continues to the Cave of Thunder.  In the northwestern tip, Mugnone, is particularly rich in marine life, perfect for diving enthusiasts (spearfishing is strictly prohibited).

The western coast, is the most suggestive of Marettimo, is Cala Bianca, where the water, at the intersection of several caves, has a clarity that is impossible to match (Grotta delle Sirene, Perciata Cave, and Cave of the Nativity, the latter with different forms of stalagmites and stalactites).  Arrive at Punta Libeccio, after passing Pegna Punta and Punta Bombard, aside from the small beach of Cala Spalmatore, a place that in the year 2000 became famous for the discovery of a wreck pirate ship.

In the southern part of Marettimo, the rugged coastline continues, with Cala Nera, Punta Cretazzo, Punta Galera, the Conca, Punta Cortiglio and Cala Martino places of great beauty, perfect for a refreshing swim. Do not miss the pebbly beaches of Praianacchi and Scale Master, the latter at the foot of Punta Troia Castle.

The Castle of Punta Troia

Reaching the Castle of Punta Troia should be done with a wonderful hike of about an hour, along a path surrounded by lush Mediterranean vegetation.

You arrive at the castle, located on a promontory, about 100 meters off the shoreline. Built by the Saracens, it was greatly enlarged during the Norman period and later by the Spanish.  Used as a place of exile for political dissidents by the French, today it is in a state of neglect, with some walls damaged by the forces of rain and wind.

The Beaches in Levanzo Island and what to see

Dove si trova Levanzo

Just a little further to the north is the island of Favignana you will find Levanzo, the smallest of the archipelago, but rich in places of natural beauty. The towns of the island are still in many aspects rustic and wild, with many roads and trails that can be only taken on foot, the sides of which are abounty with beautiful species of rock flora.

The cape of the island culminates to an altitude of 278 meters, at the Pizzo del Monaco, although the island has always been devoid of water sources, so as to earn the name Al Yabisah (the dry) by the Arabs.  The coastline is rugged and cliffed, and dotted with numerous caves. Calmer and less crowded than Favignana, it is the ideal choice for diving enthusiasts or for those looking for sun, sea, and tranquility.

What to see in Levanzo

La Grotta del Genovese is definitely a point of exceptional interest to cave enthusiast, not only to Sicilians, but nationally and internationally.  The cave, discovered in 1949, retains prehistoric cave art, of about 8,000 years ago.

Portraits of different animals, from cattle to deer, including fish, all hunted by prehistoric man: the paintings, made with black and red colors, were probably rites before hunting. The Grotta del Genovese is located on the north-western part of Levanzo, within walking distance.

The Beaches and the sea in Levanzo

The color of the water has an extraordinary clarity thanks to the pure rock seabed.  Numerous schools of fish that swim to its low depths, help give Levanzo  wonderous scenery.

The Faraglione, in the western part of the island, is well known for its abundance of marine life.  Also on the same side, are the beautiful resorts of Cala del Genovese, Punta di Sorci, and Cala Tramontana, interspersed among numerous caves, while the northern end of Levanzo has Faro di Capo Grosso. On the other side, places where you can enjoy the beauty of the island, can be found, such as Punta Altarella, Cala Minnola, Cala Fredda, and Punta S. Leonardo.

You can also visit the nearby islands of Isola Maraone and Formica by boat.

The Beaches in Favignana Island and what to see

Dove si trova Favignana

Favignana is the largest island of the Egadi and the closest to the coast of Sicily.  It stretches for about 9 kilometers, resembling a butterfly in shape.

Right in the central part of the island are the port and the urban agglomeration of Favignana, where the islands major accommodations can be found. The three largest markets of Favignana are Marina Square, Europe Square and Matrix Square, where the mother church, built in the eighteenth century, is located.

The Beaches in Favignana Island and what to see

Sought for the beauty of its coastline, Favignana will surely not disappoint.  Among the sandy beaches, rocky shores, and reefs accessible by boat, there is much to choose from.  For lovers of the sand, in the northern part of the island you can take a dip in the beach near the center of Favignana.

Picturesque and really nice to see, the small beach of Cala d’Azur, starts on the eastern side, where the name of the place comes from the clarity of its waters.  Lastly, do not miss the white beaches of Marasolo and Ravine, on the coast opposite to the Port.

For those who prefer a dive from the rocks, and Bue Marino and Cala Rossa, in the eastern part of the island, offer two great places to enjoy this sea of dreams that Favignana boasts of, where the color of the water takes on hues of turquoise.

Not to be outdone, there is also Punta Lunga, Centre Iron, Stack Punta, Punta Marsala, Punta Sottile, Cala Rotonda, Grotta Perciata. As you can see, it is not difficult to find places that will satisfy your craving for sea.

Finally, for those who cannot do without diving, do not miss Preveto Island, on the southern slope, the Secca del Tonno, Scoglio Corrente and Punta Fanfalo.

The Tunary of Favignana

The tunary of Florio, immediately draws stares from those who are about to reach Favignana. Currently in disused, it was, for a long time, the staple for the island’s economy, thanks to its tuna processing.  Built in 1859 it remains today a symbol for Favignana.

The tuna fishery in fact, was more than an activity; it represented the only form of livelihood for the majority of islanders.  The rite of the fish slaughter happened with systems of integrated nets, to form channels for directing the flow of the tuna migration which were in search of an ideal habitat for breeding, around May.

Favignana by Night

After a day of sun and sea you just have to refer back to the table: the kitchen of Favignana is superb, with restaurants on the island that make fresh fish their best dishes.

One should not miss out on the tuna, the product of the island, served in every way imaginable.  But not just that, here the ricotta is a specialty, stuffed into Sicilian cannoli or the small cassatelle.  It is Exquisite.

Castellammare del Golfo, what to see in the city

What to see in Castellammare del Golfo

Dove si trova Castellammare del Golfo

The natural beauty of its coastline, the hilly landscape of Mount Inici that stands behind it, the history and the tradition that comes to life in its castle together with the proximity to exceptional places like the Zingaro Reserve, make Castellammare del Golfo an essential destination of western Sicily.

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Although the attraction that draws the most attention from tourists is the Arab-Norman castle, do not forget to visit other buildings of Castellammare.

The Mother Church, located in Via Garibaldi, originally built in the sixth century but considerably changed during the eighteenth century, contains valuable frescoes of the seventh century, which in its time where on both aisles.

Two smaller churches also merit mentioning: the Church of Purgatory and the Baroque Church of St. Anthony of Padua.  On the other hand, near the castle, the Church of Rosario with its decorated marble entrance, in which are carved the Madonna and Child with the Saints, a praised architectural inspiration.

The Castle

An impregnable bastion of the past, so much as to give its name to the Gulf, the Castle of Castellammare, because of damage incurred during the centuries, now only shows the structural part of the complex.

Its fame during the Middle Ages was well noted, enough to be reported even in some historical writings.  The immense structure was defended by a large moat and the inside could only be accessed by drawbridge.

Its construction was first undertaken by the Arabs then greatly expanded and modified by the Normans, and the Aragonese thereafter.

After years of restoration, the museum complex “The Memory of the Mediterranean” was established within the castle, and which consists of four different sections: The Museum of Water and Mills, The Museum of Productive Activities, The Archaeological Museum, and finally, the Museum of Maritime Activities.

The sea in Castellammare del Golfo

The most sought after beach of Castellammare is the Playa, a beautiful stretch of sandy coastline about one kilometer long, equipped with bathing establishments that at lunchtime offer the possibility of food and refreshment. As in the rest of the Gulf, the waters are crystal clear.

Ideal for families, but also popular with many young people, it will not be very difficult to find parking, thanks to a number of areas (surcharges apply) located just behind the beach.

For those who have a four-legged friend, the beach of Castellammare allows you to bring your pet with you, and give it a dip in the water too: in 2012 a portion of the coast was made into bow bow beach, where our most faithful friends can enjoy a few hours of sunbathing.

However, on the western side, the coast becomes more rugged resulting in small coves and beaches until you get to Scopello, the little jewel of the coast of Trapani.

Historical Background of Castellammare del Golfo

The natural barriers of the gulf and the mountain, were since ancient times, the reasons for the settlement of people looking for opportunities on the coast.  The Elimi of Castellammare became its most important port, where goods from and to Segesta and Erice found their clearinghouse.

During the Arab period the site was chosen as a commercial point of such importance as to build a tuna trap, reorganize the entire urban structure (in Arabic, the city was known as Al Madarig, “the steps”), and for the protection of the city, put a fortified tower, later transformed into a castle by the Normans.

Castellammare, the largest city within the gulf, would be the right place for those who want to experience Sicily in its history, culture, and in all its natural charm.

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What to see in Palazzolo Acreide

What to see in Palazzolo Acreide

Dove si trova Palazzolo Acreide

Located in the heartof southern Sicily, on the headland of the Acremonte, PalazzoloAcreide has been developing,during the last few years,a strong increase in tourism. A city of great cultural interest, it owes its fame to the nearby archaeological excavations that have brought to light the old siteof Akrai, first colony of the powerful Syracuse.

Thanks to the many fascinating buildings inBaroque style,Palazzolo Acreide has been incorporated in the list of The World Heritage since 2002 and because of its geographical position, about 40 km from Siracusa, it can be a great starting point for trips and excursions in different places of southern Sicily.

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The Archaeological area of Palazzolo Acreide

Located about 15 minutes from the historical center, the archaeological area of Palazzolo Acreide preserves the remains of Akrai, the first Syracusan out post in the Sicilian hinterland.

It reaches 770 meters from sea level, so it gives the chance to be able to scan the horizon to view Etna. Built in the seventh century BC, it was rediscovered in 1800 by studies conducted by a prominent baron of Palazzolo Acreide.

Historical Background of Palazzolo Acreide

Palazzolo Acreide owes its genesis to the expansionist ambitions of Syracuse, who in 664 BC placed it at the center of the most important transportation routes to control the south-western coasts. It’s in this period that Akrai stands out in southern Sicily for importance and prestige.
However, from the Roman period is a continuation of a gradual decline until the probable destruction by the Arab troops during the campaign for the conquest of Sicily. Rebuilt around a castle in the medieval period it increases its importance through the establishment of religious orders.
The progressive development Palazzolo Acreide was trying to achieve, however, is interrupted by the earthquake of 1693. The damages are enormous, but the new urban construction gives a new charm to the city, so as to take up its part of the UNESCO World Heritage in 2002.

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