10 Things I Noticed In Trapani, Sicily

I seem to be gearing up for a full Trapani report in the strangest way – first the pictures, now these peculiar observations. If you’re looking for Trapani information, including where to eat and traveling around the area, please check back and/or do a word search for “Trapani” in the window on the home page. I gotta get this out of my system, though!

Join me after the jump for things I noticed, and can probably be explained by someone who knows way more about Sicily than I do. Me? I just like noticing things and wondering about them.

1. The overwhelming majority of people we saw were either very old, or very young. People from, say, 20-55 years old seemed nonexistent.

laundry day
(photo: Mr. Pants)

Trapani

2. For a seaside town, the buildings on the waterfront had a distinct lack of balconies. Or the jaunty colors you see in most seaside villages. Or, really, edifices of any kind. It looked like they were stripped of everything, or that the outsides were completely forgotten about.

Trapani

3. The streets were immaculate. Not even a cigarette butt to be seen.

Trapani day
(photo: Mr. Pants)

But the area by the docks was piled high with trash of all kinds.

Bad side

4. Everyone we came in contact with was very, very nice. A bit more formal than I am used to up here in Rome, but extremely cordial and not in a OMG TOURIST MONEY fake way. Sincerely genteel. I even heard an American girl tell her friends after receiving instructions from a stranger on the street: “Everybody’s SO NICE here!”

5. A lot of places were for sale or rent. A LOT. And there was a lot of construction going on – but whether this was for the upcoming summer, or because RyanAir was now flying there, or because the Mafia wanted to remind people who awesome they were in advance of the elections, it’s impossible to say.

Pharmacy for Sale

6. I was surprised to see more than one section that looked completely bombed out. On one of these areas was a sign asking for pictures or information about one of these bombed out areas, and it mentioned that it had been bombed in “the war.” I’m assuming that’s World War II, which is shocking enough – let’s hope it wasn’t the first Punic War, which gave Sicily over to Italy.

Trapani

7. There were a lot of old men who gathered at certain times of the day – at the beach, at a bar, at a storefront social club. Do not look directly at them or try to take a picture of them.

(Obviously, no picture available.)

8. The night we sat out at the via Torre di Ligny, a stretch of road that juts out and ends in the (duh) Torre di Ligny, which is really kind of a squat stone building and not very tower-like at all, we watched a stream of cars drive up, make a U-turn at the torre and drive back toward town. At dinner I asked the restaurant owner what was up. He said it was a kind of passeggiata; people drive up to the tower, turn around and go home. When I asked if there was a reason for it, he shrugged and answered, “It’s the mentality of the Trapanesi.” So, don’t ever say I never got an answer for you.

But how much more awesome would it have been to remain ignorant about this, and instead continue believing, as I had theorized, that it was an age-old tradition stemming from a valiant Paul Revere-like sprint to the tower in advance of some sort of attack?

9. You could walk around this tower on a precariously narrow catwalk protected by a railing you really didn’t want to place a lot of faith in. At either end of the entrance to this catwalk was this:

Trapani

which was frankly terrifying. It constantly surprises me that all over Italy, and most of Europe in fact, are these kinds of treacherous moments. Although I like it – it keeps you on your toes, and reminds me what a litigious society America is. If you fell down this ladder and broke your head on those concrete blocks, you really have no one but yourself to blame. No whining!

10. Check out the left-hand clock face on this church:

Roulette Church

Mr. Pants called it the Roulette Clock. I’m assuming it’s a calendar, since the numbers go to 31, and that it must have broken on the 29th of some month, since we were there in early May and it never changed. However, I’d rather believe this clock was built by the Mafia and told the town what the daily lottery number was. I love my crazy theories!  They make traveling much more entertaining.

34 thoughts on “10 Things I Noticed In Trapani, Sicily

  1. what a life! Great shots…the one of the lady hanging laundry might have been taken in Pennsauken circa 1964.🙂 Love you!

  2. I lived in Trapani for four years, 2003-2007.

    Your remarks are spot on.

    The girls are lovely (and know it).

    The weather is wonderful except in the summer when the stone courtyards and narrow streets yield no breeze and the Med doesn’t cool off at night.

    After four years they were still staring at me.

    (But I would go back in a heartbeat.)

    But, then, whenever I saw an American or northern European tourist, I stared at them. We really stick out.

    Four of the best years of my life, even though my heart was irreparably broken. (She was from Castelvetrano, and not una trapanese.)

    • Hi Brian – I am an Irish woman of 64, thinking of renting in Trapani for a year. (I speak fluent Italian, having lived in Rome for 13 years, many years ago). What do you think? I am not looking for love, just friendly people and nice weather!

      • Dear Elena,

        I can highly recommend Trapani, and will move back there myself given the opportunity.

        My landlord was Francesco Bruno, at 137 Via Nunzio Nasi, Trapani 91100.

        I’m sorry, but I don’t have the phone number.

        He owns the entire palazzo, lives in one wing, and rents out the other wings, about six apartments in total.

        I went out to La Torre di Ligny every evening for the sunset. Never got tired of it.

        In the winter I found a nook by the ferry dock, facing south, protected from the wind, and watched the afternoon sun play on the water.

        In the winter the sun is so low in the southern sky it plays on the water all day.

        Stay in the old part of town, though, at the end of the peninsula. The rest of the city is not worth the trouble.

        Best regards,

        Brian

  3. Lovely to find your site when surfing the net for Trapani. I only spent a few days there, but found it absolutely charming. Not just the architecture and history but the people were fabulous. It was a refreshing change from the rush and crowds of the north. I hope to go back before long, perhaps for a much longer period. It’s one of my new favorite places in Italy.

  4. Hello there

    thanks for all your comments. Well I am off to Trapini after a year of so of not travelling, I am going with a mate of mine who is about 10 years younger than me (i am 40) and he wants to do some travelling but has not done it before, and in the past I have done quite alot. So we looked for something cheap and mildly adventurous and got a ticket to Trapini for a good price. I have an old friend in Catania who I will be aiming for, on busses and know it is far there but no very little else about Sicilly and especially about transport or where to stay. We arrive at like 11 at night and I would love it if anyone could recommend a cheap room we could rent for the night (and the night before we fly back a week later) or does anyone know anything about catching busses in the middle of the night? or can you tell me how possible it is to take local busses through rather than going to Palermo?
    Anyway it is a mini adventure and of course in one way or the other it will work out but any suggestions (or places inland that are a must to pass through) and a cheap place recommended to stay in Trapini would be very helpful.
    Thanks alot
    Kendal (GB)

  5. I love your blog! I just started my own and am glad to find someone that enjoys life here as I do. I dream of going to Trapani someday… I have lived in the north near Venice and now am in the Lecce area in the far south. I married an Italian, but my mom did a lot of genealogy work and was able to get my American family’s Italian citizenship. Our Italian relatives immigrated from Trapani and that is my last name on your farmacia photo! I love your photos too!

    • Welcome to the large, warm and lovely group of Italy bloggers!

      That’s so cool about your name in that pic. WAY cool.

      And, very jealous about the citizenship. My great-grandfather broke that chain before the birth of my grandfather… he had no way of knowing how much a descendant would want to become Italian!

  6. Go out to “La fina del mondo” (my name, “The end of the world”) at La torre del Ligny, the end of the peninsula sticking out into the Med, with the Med on three sides of you.

    You won’t be sorry.

    If it’s the dead of the winter, go to the ferry port about a third of a mile west of La fina del mondo on the north side of the peninsula, and have the winter sun beat on you all afternoon as the ferries come in and out.

    Take a bottle of Sicilian red with you.

    Best regards,

    Brian

    (Trapani resident, 2003-2007)

  7. Hello: My give name was, when my Grandfather came to the U.S. Mangiapani, Mangiapane. My Grandfather was from Trapani. I would like to go and see if the name and if any family still exists, trying to put the puzzle together as to where we came from. I don’t know the name of the village or city. I don’t know whare to start. Any Help. Thank you

    Thomas M. Mangapora

  8. Dear Mr. Mangapora,

    There’s a dentist named Mangiapane just off of Viale Duca d’Aosta close to the tip of the Trapani peninsula.

    The family name means “Eat Bread”. 🙂

    Which is much better for a dentist than were the name Mangiadolci. (Eat Sweets).

    Sicily has a wonderful dearth of orthodontists.

    Which means you have an island of lovely, lovely girls with charmingly crooked teeth, something that would never happen in over-orthodontia-ed America.

    I highly recommend traveling to Trapani, a somewhat down-at-the-heels, very much undiscovered paradise on earth.

    I would move back in a heartbeat.

    Best regards,

    Brian

    • Dear Brian

      I am planning a trip to Sicily to swim around the islands in June. We will leave from Trapani for Marittemo and then spend a week swimming between and around the islands, staying in Marittemo all week. You are influencing my decision for what to do AFTER the swim…spend some time in Trapani!! What is the weather and water like in June? (about 10th-16th June)

      Would love your input!!

      Judy

      • I found my part of Trapani uncomfortably warm in June, although not miserable like it was in July and August. The part of Trapani in which I lived (the old part on the Peninsula) is pretty vegetation-less, with stone and concrete streets and structures soaking up the heat all day and radiating it out all night.

        I would recommend spending as much time out at the islands and staying in the water.

        If you are in Trapani, relief from the heat can be had by going out to La Torre di Ligny, a small tower with a rock beach at the very end of the peninsula and hanging out on the north side of the tower (out of the sun, and in the breeze).

        I also found that completely abstaining from alcohol (tough to do on one’s vacation) helped me beat the heat the early summer of 2006, while watching Italy on TV win the World Cup.

        My favorite season in Trapani was November and December, sunny and 60 Fahrenheit during the day, 50 degrees at night, with the sun so low in the sky it played on the water even at high noon.

        Best regards,

        Brian

  9. Miss Expatria,

    Well done girl and long live your travelling blog! and respect to mr pants for the visuals. Really refreshing to stumble upon this after a long trail of ‘google mundane’ re. trapani.
    Im heading there for a week in august and really looking forward to it, Im traveling solo and found it so hard to find somewhere reasonable for one person to stay, so for anyone in the same situation this may be of help, eventually got a great deal at Casa Trapanese through booking.com €240 for a single room B&B for 7 nights, every other place seemed to charge double regardless that it was for one person. Thanks again,
    Neil

  10. Hia Brian, really enjoyed all your postings and indepth knowledge of all things tranquil especially regarding the sea.
    I only have a week so apart from a day trip to Palermo and boat trip to the islands I intend to just chill out in Trapani. I love swimming so just wondering how close a good beach or nice place to swim is to the city? I can hire a bike from the place Im staying so dont mind a jaunt to somewhere special aswell.
    There seems to be plenty of good restaurants and I’ve worked in food and wine all my life so looking forward to that aspect, are there any nice bars or cafe bars to check out?
    Sounds like you are due a trip there again and it should be paid for by the local tourist board!

    Many thanks, Neil Mc Fadden

  11. thanks for the information re: Trapani.
    I am leading a group of 30 students to Trapani from the US for five nites this Feb (2011). I would appreciate any info regarding a transfer to/from Favignana.

    Any preferences?

    grazie per le info su: Trapani.
    Son capogruppo di trenta studenti a trpani per cinque notti questo febb (2011). Sarei grato per qualche info riguarda il trasferimento a/da Favignana

  12. My wife and I ( from Australia) are heading to Trapani this Easter.

    Would love to receive feedback on unusual places to see whilst in town and people to speak to. I speak Italian.

    Any places where we can enjoy the locals singing and dancing?

    Where are the best eateries that locals go to?

    Do locals welcome tourists into their homes for a meal and exchange of experiences? Would love to make contact with anyone who may have relatives in Australia.

  13. Hi!
    Got a kick out of your experiences on Tripari. Iam a travel agent and am traveling with 2 VERY FANCY couples this Sept. We are on a Seabourn cruise. Will they like it? It seems we do not need to take any shore excursion but ust walk around and soak up the atmosphere. Am I correct?
    Valerie

  14. Hi Everyone

    We stumbled across Trapani because of Ryanair and need for a short break. We fell in love with the place for all the above reasons and you don’t need to know Italian. We stayed in a lovely apartment with a beautiful roof terrace in the old Town (http://www.homelidays.co.uk/trapani/apartment-flat-345145en1.htm). We visited lots of places within easy distance of Trapani, the Edagi islands, Erice which is an amazing medieval hilltop town overlooking Trapani and accessible via a cable car. Marsala was lovely if small and Palermo was amazing and yes there are lots of buildings which were bombed in the war! It is very hard to get over people staring although eventually you do get used to it! We loved it so much we went back within two months of our first visit and are intending to give up our jobs and go for an extended stay in Autumn 2011. So enjoy….

    Anna and Martin

  15. We spent two days in Trapani while touring the area. At night the pedestrian mall was filled with contented people strolling, shopping and dining. A much cleaner and more prosperous city than Palermo. I don’t know about the mafia. What do they look like?

      • They’re not flashy like here (America). No pinky rings. No Cadillacs, not even an Alfa Romeo. 🙂

        The ones I noticed looked like fishermen.

        Two were visiting a local businessman while I was there when a North American I knew wandered in, and said, Sicily is wonderful and all we hear about back home is the Mafia.

        “Here we don’t have Mafia,” I said. “Here we only have Friends.”

        Everybody (except the North American) laughed. Because in Sicily they are known as the Friends of the Friends. Gli amici degli amici.

  16. We are two couple from Malta and will be flying with Ryanair on September 19 staying for 4 nights at Hotel Villaggio Torre Xiare in Trapani. Any suggestions what to do and see? Brian seems to know it all. Charles Decelis

    • Hopefully the weather will have broken by the 19th; it’s usually right around then.

      The hotel is unfamiliar to me but it sounds like it’s near La Torre di Ligny, at the end of the peninsula.

      La Torre was my favorite hangout; must have watched several hundred sunsets from there.

      Erice, the Norman fortress on a 2500-foot mountain just outside Trapani…the tram ride down (although even coming back down by bus is spectacular).

      The residence at the end of Via Catulo Lutazio (south of La Torre di Ligny) should be seen before global warming drowns it in rising sea levels.

      They were building a new marina on the new shore as I was leaving in ’07.

      A bike ride around the end of the peninsula at sunrise is spectacular, one of my best memories.

      In general, if you stay in the old part of town (the train station and points west) and near the water, you can’t go wrong.

      Sono invidioso. (I’m envious.)

  17. So how much would it cost about to rent there for 1 month in the old part of the city?? I am from USA but my family name is Lombardo and im looking for relatives.

  18. Splendid – thank you for posting. Will be visiting Trapani this summer for a few days (staying on the Corso) while in San Vito Lo Capo. This will be our first trip to Sicilia as we normally spend our time in Rimini and in Emilia Romagna seeing friends. Can’t wait. Appreciate any suggestions on food in town.

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