Between Nature and History, a unique territory
Around San Vito Lo Capo, very close or not far away, there are sites of naturalistic and cultural interest of great charm which are not to be missed. All are in the Trapani area and all are worth a visit.
San Vito Lo Capo
Famous for its pink sand beach, defined as one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean, the village of San Vito Lo Capo is part of a “precious” territory thanks to its natural characteristics and due to its age-old history. In the village, the Sanctuary /fortress, which was built to protect the original chapel dedicated to the patron saint, San Vito martyr, is undoubtedly the most important monument, the fulcrum around which the village developed over time. It was created to host pilgrims visiting the Saint. Inside, a museum protects precious objects and artistic artefacts donated by other Italian towns that share the same patron saint..
The Zingaro Reserve
First among the Oriented Nature Reserves established in Sicily, it extends along 7 km of coastline with almost 1,700 hectares of unspoiled nature, from San Vito eastwards to Scopello, and is one of the most famous trekking destinations in Italy. The coast is characterized by cliffs which, from a maximum height of 913 m, steeply slope towards the sea, interspersed with numerous coves, some of which can be reached by land, others exclusively by sea. The Zingaro is home to endemic flora and fauna, including rare or exclusive land and marine species, and 39 species of birds, such as the Bonelli eagle nest there.
The Mount Cofano Reserve
Another reserve of naturalistic importance is that of Monte Cofano, which is characterized by the mountainous promontory, 659 metres high, from which it takes its name. It is located in the territory of Custonaci, and is reached by following an ideal route from San Vito Lo Capo to the west, among pebble beaches and cliffs such as Bue Marino, Santa Margherita and Màkari. Places to visit are the Mangiapane Cave, in Scurati, inhabited until the mid-1900s, in which traces of human residence dating back to the Upper Palaeolithic have been found, and the coastal towers. These are ideal excursions for those who love trekking.
Segesta is one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe, built on the top of Mount Barbaro and surrounded by hills and small valleys. According to the Greek historian Thucydides, the city was founded (the date is unknown but the area was already inhabited in the 11th century BC) by the Elymians, a people of Trojan origin who arrived in Sicily crossing the Mediterranean.
The tour starts from the Doric temple of 400 BC and continues along the fortified system of the valley gate. The upper esplanade of the agora dominates everything, with what remains of fortifications and buildings that succeeded over the centuries, where the splendid theatre still stands. Most of it is preserved, it is the scene for classical and contemporary shows and is the natural backdrop to the large area downstream.
It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Italy, the fulcrum and origin of the whole territory. Within the ancient stone walls, an age-old history is preserved and recounted: the profane: by the temple of Astarte, Aphrodite and finally Venus Ericina, whose construction was also carried out by Dedalus, and behind which the Norman castle was later built, and the sacred: by the countless churches and convents, including the Mother Church, with its watchtower transformed into a bell tower. Finding yourself in its cobbled alleys, peeking through the doors that open onto the typical courtyards, admiring the mastery of local craftsmanship in the colours of the ceramics and rugs, letting yourself be enthralled by the scent and taste of pastries of ancient traditions is an experience that cannot be missed.
Salt Pans of Trapani and Paceco
The Oriented Natural Reserve of the Salt Pans of Trapani and Paceco extends for almost 1000 hectares and is a Sicilian protected natural area. The reserve, within which the ancient activity of extraction of sea salt, of Phoenician origin is carried out, is one of the most important coastal wetlands of western Sicily, and is home to numerous species of birds (208 are registered), including migratory ones, making a stop en route to Africa. Among these are avocets, the symbol of the Reserve, flamingos, great white herons, the kingfishers and marsh harriers ... The flora is represented by herbaceous or shrub species adapted to the extreme environmental conditions that this area presents, but the absolute protagonist is the rare Marigold, which is endemic and present only in the area that goes from the Salt Pans to the Monte Cofano Reserve.
Scopello is a 17th century village in the territory of Castellammare del Golfo that opens onto an enchanting coast, a natural continuation of the Zingaro Reserve as is evident in the Cala Mazzo di Sciacca cove, at Punta Pispisa, of sand and gravel, sloping down into a very clear sea. Cala Bianca cove, is wilder and characterized by deep rocky bottoms, ideal for diving. In Scopello, a visit to the small pebble beach of the Faraglioni (sea stacks) is not to be missed, on which the ancient Tonnara (Tuna Fishery) is located, whose original fishery was built in the thirteenth century close to the rock. Here, two towers dominate the landscape: the oldest, that of the Tonnara itself, dating back to 1200 was built to defend the village and the Tonnara and today only ruins remain. The other more recent one dates back to 1400.
Castellammare del Golfo
Castellammare del Golfo is located east of San Vito Lo Capo and stands at the foot of a rocky promontory, covered by Mediterranean vegetation, on which the Arabs built the castle overlooking the sea that gave rise to the village. The town, which is rich in history and set in an enchanting landscape, deserves to be visited and appreciated under various aspects, not least the naturalistic one that is best expressed in the splendid Guidaloca - a pebble beach with crystal clear waters on which an ancient watchtower stands –and also in the numerous caves that open onto the rock overlooking the coast, essential must-sees.