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Scuola Virgilio: Cycling in Trapani and Around Western Sicily

Published on Thursday, March 23, 2017

Located on the westernmost tip of Sicily, Trapani is a flat medium-sized town where getting around by bike is very convenient... and extremely enjoyable, especially in spring and autumn - both very good seasons to attend private italian lessons in Sicily. Virtually all the students attending an Italian language course at Scuola Virgilio go cycling around town at least once, many rent a bike in Trapani for a few days and some even for their whole stay.


City centre tour (very easy, 3 miles/ 30 min)

Formerly an island, Trapani is now a narrow strip of landsurrounded by the sea, so that it has two waterfronts, to the north and the south: between them, one of Sicily's finest old towns. Cycling around it is the best way to avoid traffic and enjoy the monumental car-free streets. This itinerary - followed by groups studying Italian in intensive week pro grammes - starts at the corner from Scuola Virgilio's premises. From pedestrian Via Garibaldi it unwinds on thenorthern city walls to the 17th-centurySpanish bastion and back to theportico of the formerfish market. Hence central Via Torrearsa cuts across the town leading straight to theharbour on the south side: cycling along the tree-lined avenue one reaches thefishing port, then the Lazzaretto esplanade with the imposing view of one of Sicily's oldest monuments: the Colombaia (Dovecote), acastle-fortress rising on a small island at the inlet of the harbour. Not far, theLigny Tower, another 17th century Spanish watchtower now houses a small but fascinatingunderwater archaeology museum. From this point we finally head back through Corso Vittorio, the monumental main street lined withbaroque churches and the finest buildings from past centuries. The ideal arrival point is thePalazzo Senatorio on via Torrearsa, perfectly closing out the main street perspective as if in a theatre set.


Trapani Saltpans tour (easy, 6 miles/ 1 hour)

From the port of Trapani you can cycle on abike lanerunning along the unique landscape of theSaltpans nature reservewith its centuries-oldwindmills. In the reserve you should visit theSalt museum, take part in one of theguided toursat the WWF visitor centre or just stroll through the saltpans: the best time to do so is at sundown, when salt ponds turns to red and purple with golden reflections as the sky gets darker.


Stagnone Lagoon bike tour (medium/easy, from 6 miles/ 1 hour up)

Even more picturesque is the out-of-time view of the saltpans in theStagnone lagoonnear Marsala, a nature reserve wherewater sports- like kitesurfing - coexist witharchaeologyin a majorpunic site: the tiny island of Mothia. Atrainfrom Trapani will take you (and your bike, with a small extra fee) to theMozia-Birgi railway station: from there you can easily cycle to the nature reserve. In a couple of miles you'll reach the landing stage to Mothia, while enjoying the breathtaking scenery of the lagoon. At the pier just take aboat to Mothia(where bicycles are not allowed though) or continue your ride around the lagoon area. 


Erice bike tour (hard - only for bike lovers - from 8 miles/ 2 hours up) 

Mount Erice, that is connected to Trapani by acableway, is the perfect site for those who love climbing uphill roads and/or speeding down off-road tracks. Its altitude (750 mt a.s.l) allows to practicedownhill bikingon many routes on its slopes. Forroad cyclingthere are no less than three different paved roads, all offering outstanding landscapes. All three join at the summit, where you can enjoy some breathtaking views on western Sicily and the Egadi Islands.


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