Rediscovering Sweet Traditions in Medieval Erice

Erice_Where to go in sicily_what to do in erice_sicily_medieval town_city of 100 churches_castle_maria grammatico_food_travel guide_medieval city
Share on StumbleUpon

Although I adore the Sicilian coastline, there is another less familiar Sicily of medieval architecture and jaw dropping landscapes that I love just as much. It is off the beaten path, this is sure, but the venture to the medieval village of Erice perched on the top of Mount San Giuliano is richly rewarding.

Photography property of SVADORE

The Greeks, the Romans, and the Phoenicians once inhabited the medieval village of Erice. All these invasions created a castle and medieval fortress and wall that still stand today. Erice spent years ignored by tourists and now tourism has surged, which has encouraged many hotels and businesses to arise. Though the town has been reinvigorated, tourism season is still a bit too brief for the city to maintain itself. It lasts from roughly May to September – October, but the remaining months of the year is left for the 300 residents of the small town.

Due to its small population and isolation from the city of Trapani, Erice doesn’t have schools, Laundromats, or even it’s own bread bakery! For all these amenities, the town needs to head down to Trapani. It is truly a town that has remained at its core true to its “antique ways.” In fact, if you are looking for a fresh croissant that does not consist of cream or nutella (the specialties of the area!) you must wait until approximately 10:30AM for the workers to come back up from Trapani carrying these small breakfast delicacies. Until then, all that remains is leftover croissants from the day before or creamy delicacies, that are a bit heavier for foreigners to eat at 9 in the morning. After all, the locals motto is con calma – no rush. So do not come here expecting everyone to be fast like in New York, things here are slow and people take their time. But that’s what we need in our life sometimes, to slow down and enjoy the small things in life.

The town begins at Porta Trapani gateway, where the cable car drops you off. From here the main street of Vittorio Emanuele leads the way to the heart of the town—Piazza Umberto I. Narrow cobbled streets lead to the hilltop castle Castello Venere (Castle of Venus) that was a shrine once dedicated to the goddess Venus (and during the Greek times, used to worship prostitutes!). The view from this fortification is what makes Erice so special. You can view Trapani from one side and San Vito Lo Capo from the other.

Come prepared to hear church bells ringing every hour of the day, and not just from one church, but from 16. Erice is known as the city of 100 churches with 16 still open and functioning today. The most important is the 14th century Duomo dell’Assunta.

Being so high up in the mountains, means that the weather is cooler all year round. This is a great excuse to fill up the towns famous almond biscuits, Genovesi Ericine and pastries, proudly stacked up in the windows of several pasticcerie on Corso Vittorio Emanuele. I mean, how else are you going to protect your body from the cold right? The only way is to indulge in a scary amount of pastries. The go-to pasticceria in Erice is Maria Grammatico, located just a few steps from Piazza Umberto I. Once a nun now turned world-renowned pastry chef, Maria is famous for her Genovesi Ericine and marzipan creations all made with locally produced ingredients and Sicilian almonds. Sicilian convents have been famous for their almond-based sweets and pastries so Maria took her skills and brought it to the isolated and religious town of Erice where she made a name for herself. I opted for the more local sweet, the Genovesi, a pasty cream (usually ricotta or milky-custard) inside an egg-enriched pastry dough sprinkled with a touch of powdered sugar. It’s a perfect marriage between pastry and cream, especially when eaten warm! This was one of my favorite pastries in Sicily, aside from the ricotta filled cannoli’s of course (which my mom indulged in). They were so good…my mom sent me out at 11PM to go grab a second cannoli from Maria Grammatico!

It’s the food, the people, the history, the simplicity, and the religion that make Erice a charming and one of the best well-preserved medieval towns you’ll ever stumble upon in Sicily. Come for the views, stay for the history (and pastries!) and immerse yourself in the history through a genuine and medieval stay at Erice Pietre Antiche. Reach out to me at sveva@svadore.com should you need any information or help on where to stay and what to do during your time in this centuries old town.

  • Maria Grammatico Via Vittorio Emanuele 14, Erice, Sicily; 0923-869390; mariagrammatico.it

Get insider travel tips and lifestyle content on the world’s most exceptional destinations, experiences and products directly to your inbox. Don’t miss out–sign up for SVADORE on the right hand side.

Follow Svadore on Instagram: @Svadore

Follow Svadore on Twitter: @SvadoreTravels

Follow Svadore on Pinterest: Svadore

Follow Svadore on Facebook: Svadore

21 Replies to “Rediscovering Sweet Traditions in Medieval Erice”

  1. Oh how beautiful! I have never visited Sicily but hope to one day! Sim x

  2. Beautiful Images. Lovely Post.

  3. I love you perspective on Silicy. Your photos make it look so beautiful and serine. I love the idea of hearing bells from 16 churches going off around the town. Every hour might be a bit overwhelming though.

  4. Such a beautiful place!!

  5. The pictures of this town are stunning! Thanks for the blog. I had never heard of this place but now really want to go there!

  6. I must surely come to hear the church bell ringing…..i am sure it would have been the magical moment.

  7. It’s so crazy that the town is so small they have to travel even to do laundry and buy baked goods. And these pictures are gorgeous.

  8. I love little towns. They have their unique character and charm. Erice has an old history, awesome views, delicious pastries, and the Mediterranean sea. It would be a perfect vacation. Thank you for sharing. How much Italian do I need to know in order to visit little towns in Italy? I’ve heard that Sicilians don’t like to speak in English with tourists.

    1. Hi Natalie, You don’t need to speak much at all! As long as you know the standard – hello, thank you, and your welcome – Sicilians are just as accommodating as any other region in Italy when it comes to speaking English 🙂 Since it is a tourist town there are a lot of English speaking townspeople that can help.

  9. Such a beautiful place. I love town like this that have s story and time hasn’t let modern life fully take over

  10. Must be 30 years since I visited here. Your just taken me back to one of the amazing summers I had

  11. I feel like Sicily is a totally different world. I have dreamed of visiting since I was a teen. I feel like more than a week is needed to scratch a bit of the surface. For, example, I have not see Erice in a lot of itineraries but, based on your photos, I would love to visit. I am enjoying your Sicily posts a lot. #WeekendWanderlust

  12. Sicily seems like a great place. Would love to visit it someday. 🙂

  13. Wow I’m definitely going to have plan a trip there!

  14. This has totally filled me with wanderlust… it looks stunning! And I know someone just going there!

  15. Breathtaking! Such an incredible post! Another one for the bucket list, laid back mornings and an excuse to eat delicious pastries!!

  16. As somebody who loves anything and everything Medieval, this is like a dreamer destination for me! Add on the fact that it’s not swamped with tourists, it definitely seems like a perfect place to visit!

  17. What a beautiful little town.

  18. I am definitely adding Sicily to my bucket list. This look amazing!

  19. You’re making me miss Sicily so much. 🙁 I didn’t even get to go to Erice! Clearly I have to go back AGAIN.

    Also, I love your philosophy concerning pastries and staying warm. 😉 Definitely the way to go.

Share your thoughts!