I've been helping clients plan Sicily holidays for more than three decades and, in my opinion, the western part of the island is one of the most fascinating and authentic destinations in all of Italy. It's absolutely brimming with history, culture and traditional cuisine, but it's more than that; I think that if you discover the west, you've discovered the real Sicily… Make Like a Local |
Heading "out west" on Sicily holidays provides the opportunity to really immerse in the local way of life. I highly recommend my clients choose one of the excellent agritourismi for their accommodation in order to get a true taste of the rural Italian experience.
From a warm, welcoming agritourismo you'll be within easy access of the very best attractions of Western Sicily.
Most people have heard of Marsala, the westernmost city on the island – even if it's only in terms of its most famous product. Of course, trying the famous fortified wine is a must, but Marsala has a lot else going for it besides. The magnificent Duomo (which is dedicated to former Archbishop of Canterbury, St.Thomas Beckett) is worth a visit and Garibaldi landed his troops here during the "Expedition of the Thousand". The modern Marsala was built on the ruins of a Carthaginian city so there's plenty of history to delve in to.
For nature lovers, I also recommend an excursion to Stagnone Lagoon to explore the salt ponds, with their proliferation of plant and animal life. While for history aficionados, a visit to San Pantaleo Island and the ancient Phoenician site of Motya is a must.
Erice played a vital role in history of the island and its heritage is a fusion of five powerful civilisations: The Romans, Greeks, Sicani, Carthaginians and the Elimi. The fascinating remnants of all that ancient history make it one of the most important sites you can visit. The views from its elevated position on top of Mount Erice are nothing short of breath-taking and on a clear day (which is pretty much every day!) you get a bird’s-eye view of the harbour at Trapani and up and down the coastline for miles.
Sites not to miss in Erice include Piazza Umberto I, the tranquil Giardino del Balio, the impressive Castello di Venere and the fortified walls that encircle the outskirts of the town.
The Best of the Rest
How to distil the spirit of Western Sicily holidays into a few words is a challenge I'm up for: food, wine and nature! What more could you need?
To cover the nature aspect, while there are countless attractions, I always recommend my clients see at least these:
To meet your culinary needs is easy, as you'd find it harder to get a bad meal than a good one! With so many influences, the cuisine is so diverse you could be eating fresh-caught seafood for lunch and exotic North African inspired dishes for dinner. There's really nothing like Sicilian cuisine.
- The beach at San Vito lo Capo
- The nature reserve of Lo Zingaro
- The stunning Egadi Islands (go from Marsala)
- The Torre Salsa Nature Reserve
Finally, I recommend visiting the region around La Scala dei Turchi, on the way to Agrigento, for some of the best wines this side of Tuscany. Really.
For those looking for the most authentic Sicily holidays, I advocate these excellent establishments in the west of the island – all of which come with a car.
Can't choose? No problem. I think the way to get the best out of your Sicily holidays’ experience is to spend a few days in each. Buon viaggio!
- Relais Baglio Oneto (close to Marsala, Erice and Trapani)
- Verdura Resort (close to Sciacca)
- La Foresteria Planeta (amazing rural retreat)
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing luxury Sicily holidays, as well as holidays in Croatia, Bermuda and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
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