Welcome back to our series called “Weekend escape to…” showcasing our favorite vacations spots in practical 48-hour guides. Today we’ll be suggesting tips for a weekend in Trapani, on the island of Sicily.
Located on the west coast of Sicily, Trapani is the sixth largest port in Italy, traditionally used for salt production and tuna fishing. The beautiful city center has preserved architecture dating back to the 14th century including palaces and churches with classic Gothic and Baroque style influences. Trapani may not be a top destination for travelers visiting Italy, but it shouldn’t be overlooked on your trip to Sicily. The small group of Egadi Islands just off the coast are some of Sicily’s best highlights in summertime for the famous beaches on Levanzo, Favignana and Marettimo. Locals don’t fear the heavy west coast winds, they take advantage! Thrill-seekers will love Trapani for its famous kite surfing beach near the island of Mothia where you can take lessons and even grab a beer afterwards while watching the sunset.
If you have time, check out the Museo Regionale Conte Agostino Pepoli for their private art collection of jewels, sculptures, paintings, coral art, silver and goldsmithing. There is a lot to offer in a place known for sea salt flats, intricate handmade coral jewelry, fresh seafood, and excellent white wines. Here are our recommendations for a quick weekend getaway to Trapani.
4PM – check into your hotel and freshen up
Check out our recommendations at the end of this article. We’ve singled out a fantastic boutique hotel outside of town on the Firriato winery’s property; or pick from a few local hotels and Bed & Breakfasts located right in the centro storico part of downtown Trapani.
6PM – evening passeggiata
Take a walk around the centro storico from the Torre de Ligny toward the Antico Mercato del Pesce. The city’s location makes it perfect for catching the sun setting over the Egadi Islands.
7PM – aperitivo at Enoteca Versi di Rosso
In the city’s top winebar, make sure to request Sicilian varietals so you can get a taste for the local vino. Wine growers in the regions of Trapani and Palermo are famous for indigenous white grapes like Grillo and Catarrato. Perfect for aperitivo! We love Vini Barraco, Guccione, Alessandro Viola, Bosco Falconeria, and Marco de Bartoli for western picks a little bit out of the ordinary.
Pro Tip: While you’re enjoying aperitivo, send your friend over to the pizzeria to put your name on the list, there is usually a wait and the enoteca is located just around the corner from Calvino.
8:30PM – dinner at Pizzeria Calvino
Locals and tourists gather every night outside of this brothel-turned-pizzeria waiting for a pie. You can peek into the kitchen to watch the pizzaioli quickly throwing dough while you wait. Tables are set in tiny alcove rooms and the pizza arrives already cut into tiny squares for easy eating. The classic local pizza is the rianata made with sliced cherry tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, preserved anchovy (a must!), Sicilian pecorino cheese and the namesake dried oregano. Expect casual pizzeria service and order a few beers for the table while you enjoy a delicious pizza on your first night in Trapani.
9AM – breakfast at the hotel
10AM – visit the fish market
Trapani does not have a central outdoor food market like other Sicilian cities like Palermo or Catania. Instead, there are vendors on most corners selling fruit and vegetables. The main event is the fish market located near the port. There is an “Antico Mercato del Pesce“ where the old fish market used to be, so don’t make the mistake and go to the wrong one.
Vendors sell just-caught Mediterranean fish like sardines, red tuna, mackerel, swordfish, small red mullet. Squid, cuttlefish, and sea urchin come and go with the seasons but you’ll find that everything is fresh fresh fresh!
1PM – lunch at Hostaria San Pietro
The restaurant is only open for lunch from 1PM-2:30 so keep an eye on the time. Reservations are recommended. +39 339 719 8193
When dining at Hostaria San Pietro, we suggest that you eat Trapani’s local specialty: fish couscous. Couscous is a steamed dish of small grains of semola di grano duro wheat served with a broth of fish and seafood. Typically North African, this dish was brought to Sicily by the Arabs and has kept its place in the local cuisine of the Trapani region of the island. You won’t find couscous in any other part of Italy so take advantage while you’re here. A perfect pairing with a seafood couscous is a 10-year Marsala Superiore Secco Riserva.
3PM – granita at Colicchia
A Sicilian specialty during the warmer months is granita! Sort of an Italian ice or slushy, not to be confused with gelato or ice cream. Typical flavors here are almond, lemon, or coffee but if you see something special like prickly pear, mulberry or persimmon make sure to give them a shot.
6:30PM – sunset over salt pans
Take an afternoon drive out to see the salt flats. You’ll see shallow pools of water, pink flamingos passing through, and mountains of salt that look like white snow as you drive south along the coast from Trapani towards Marsala. Near the imbarcadero docks to catch a ferry out to the island of Mothia, you can sit for a sunset aperitivo at an outdoor bar near the saline.
8:30PM – dinner at Salirosso
Back to the city center for dinner at a local Mediterranean restaurant. Salirosso is a stylish but casual restaurant with professional and friendly service. They offer dishes like grilled octopus with fava bean puree, beef tartare, sardine meatballs, pan-seared mackerel over sweet-and-sour tomatoes, a variety of pasta dishes and outstanding desserts. Ask their sommelier, Ezio, for his suggestions on what to pair with your meal.
9AM – light breakfast at hotel
10AM – visit the hilltop town of Erice
Take the funicular tram, FuniErice, to the summit of Monte Erice. In just 10 minutes you’ll have a beautiful view of the city and coast of Trapani. Round trip tickets cost 9 euro per person.
The pièce de résistance is visiting Maria Grammatico, “the pastry queen of Sicily”. Pick up a copy of Bitter Almonds written by Mary Taylor Simeti. This book describes the unbelievable story of Maria Grammatico’s life growing up in a Sicilian convent and how she stole secret pastry recipes with her eyes by watching the nuns from a crack in the floor above the kitchen.
At Pasticceria Maria Grammatico you can stock up on almond pastries like bellibrutti, lingua di suocera, bocconcini, perfectly sculpted marzipan fruit and bucellati fig cookies. In the springtime just before Easter, Maria makes the most beautiful marzipan lambs filled with candied fruit. Before leaving the shop, make sure to order a warm genovese; a big round baked raviolo filled with yellow pastry cream.
Take some time to stroll through the little town of Erice to pop into shops and walk off a few almond cookies before heading back down to Trapani on the tram.
1:30PM – lunch at Firriato winery
Wrap up your weekend getaway with a fine dining lunch on the Firriato winery estate just 20 minutes outside of the city of Trapani. Firriato’s Baglio Sorìa is a charming 17th century courtyard surrounded by vineyards and olive orchards overlooking the sea. Chef Andrea Macca’s dishes are exquisitely plated bringing together the natural flavors of the island.
When to go
May and September are ideal for good weather and fewer crowds. September is the perfect month to see the sea salt harvest on the coast between Trapani and Marsala. Trapani is also a great Sicilian town to visit during the holy week before Easter.
Do not try to take a train from Palermo, it will take hours and hours (and hours). There is a small airport in Trapani for travel within Italy or you can rent a car and drive from Palermo. The SEGESTA bus line runs from Palermo’s central train station to Trapani almost every hour. Keep an eye on parking signs in the city center, they will tow you. There is parking available near the tree-lined street across from the port. You just need to get a ticket from the blue parking machines nearby to leave in your dashboard window.
Where to eat
Pizzeria Calvino, Via Nunzio Nasi, 71, 91100 Trapani
Hostaria San Pietro, Largo Porta Galli, 91100 Trapani
Colicchia, Via delle Arti, 6/8, 91100 Trapani TP
Enoteca Versi di Rosso, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 63, 91100 Trapani
Pasticceria Maria Grammatico, Via Vittorio Emanuele, 14, 91100 Erice
Salirosso Via Sant’Eligio, 13, 91100 Trapani
Baglio Soria Resort, Contrada Soria, 91100 Trapani
Where to Stay
What films we’re watching
The Cheeky Chef, Linda Sarris was raised in a big Greek-American family with a Chef grandfather, a fisherman Dad and a kitchen full of women who loved to cook. After a career in book publishing and a secret night-school culinary degree, she ran away to Sicily with a scholarship to work for a farm-to-table cooking school. She has worked as a fishmonger at Eataly, consulted for a restaurant in Romania, cooked for a Tuscan winery and underground supper clubs in New York. With a home base in Brooklyn, Linda works as a private chef and often travels to Italy for freelance jobs like her new project SNACK, a chef’s guide to Sicilian food/wine.