Castellammare del Golfo: The seaside village among the most beautiful in Italy
Castellammare del Golfo is certainly one of the interesting places to visit during a stay in Trapani.. It is one of the most famous villages in Italy, in which history and nature intertwine in a place definitely worth visiting.
A bit of history
Castellammare del Golfo was born as a port of the nearby city of Segesta, remaining linked to it until the arrival of the Arabs. This population, which arrived in Castellammare in the eighth century, brings many changes starting with the name, which becomes “al-madariğ” (“the stairs”, due to the steps leading to the port).
The current name of Castellammare del Golfo comes at the beginning of the second millennium, when this area was controlled first by the Normans and then by the Swabians. In the years that followed, it changed its “ownership” again, since first this town was easily conquered by Robert of Anjou and then by the Aragonese.
These continuous conflicts lead to a difficult period for Castellammare, which returns to grow when it becomes a baronial land of Frederick of Antioch (who transforms it into an important commercial port). This role was also preserved in subsequent eras, which allow Castellammare to live at its best until it was characterized (like many other Sicilian places) by the phenomenon of banditry.
La Plaja beach in San Vito lo Capo
In the Castellammare del Golfo area, the largest and most important beach is certainly La Plaja. This is a sandy stretch of coast, bathed by a crystalline sea and frequented by both young people and families.
Another interesting beach is Guidaloca, with an equally spectacular sea and characterized by smooth pebbles.
Places to visit
Castellammare boasts buildings that allow you to relive the various moments in the history of today’s Trapani municipality. Among the most important is the Arab Norman Castle, whose construction is attributed to the Arabs in the 10th century and on the remains of ancient fortifications.
Later it was enlarged by the Normans, who added the walls and raised the towers already present. Later it was further modified, while it currently houses the “Memory of the Mediterranean” Museum Pole (created with the aim of enhancing the heritage of the town and the surrounding area).
Among the religious buildings, on the other hand, the Mother Church should be mentioned. Opinions differ on the origins of this church, because it was built starting in 1726 at the behest of the Prince of Aragon but – it is said – on the foundations of pre-existing buildings. The style is classic and linear and, among the works it houses, there is also the statue of the Madonna del Soccorso (which dates back to the 16th century).
What to do during your stay
In addition to the two buildings mentioned above, Castellammare del Golfo offers many other possibilities to spend a few days between history and nature. Another important building in the city is Palazzo Crociferi, founded in 1659 at the behest of Princess Francesca Balsamo di Roccafiorita as a convent of the Crociferi Fathers. It is currently used as the seat of the Town Hall.
Another extremely characteristic place are the Bennistra Towers, Saracen watchtowers used in the past to control the possible arrival of enemy peoples by sea. Also worth considering is the Small Museum of the Sea, which collects a series of testimonies on fishing activity (which has always characterized this area).
On the naturalistic level, however, the area of Castellammare is dotted with several caves. The most evocative is Abisso dei Cocci, with its bizarre rock shapes and its difficult and stimulating paths. Castellammare also overlooks the Zingaro Nature Reserve. A sort of small earthly paradise, with many species of plants and animals (the most common are peregrine falcons, buzzards and other water birds).
What and where to eat in Castellammare del Golfo
The typical cuisine of this area largely corresponds to that of Trapani, having therefore undergone the influences of the populations (in particular the Arab one) who arrived in this land.
Among the typical dishes of the area there are cunzato bread (wood-fired bread with tomato, oregano, salt, oil, primo sale cheese and salted anchovies), couscous alla trapanese, the Busiate (typical long curled pasta ideal for first courses based on both meat and fish) and the black summer truffle (characteristic of the Castellammare area and to be combined with both meat and fish dishes).
Among the restaurants in Castellammare, I Sapori Siciliani Grill Restaurant is ideal for meat lovers, while La Tavernetta offers a wide variety of local fish dishes. Finally, La Tonnara is a restaurant that offers – in addition to excellent dishes – a spectacular view of the sea and the castle of the city.
How to come
Castellammare del Golfo is respectively 43 km from Palermo airport (just over 30 minutes by car) and 56 from Trapani airport (equivalent to 440 minutes by car). There are no bus lines that connect the two airports directly to the Trapani municipality, which can be reached from both cities by train. Instead, there are buses that depart from both Palermo and Trapani and allow you to reach Castellammare.